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Belfast in conflict 1920-22


JohnD66

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Kiernan Glennon has a new book on the 'Belfast pogrom' of 1920-22.

Book Review: From Pogrom to Civil War, Tom Glennon and the Belfast IRA | The Irish Story

Glennon puts the figure for those killed in political violence in Belfast in those years at 498. Combatants suffered least - 37 Crown and 14 IRA, Catholic civilians suffered most, 266 dead to 180 Protestants.

A grim picture.

A quick rundown of his arguments for those interested;

The IRA were unprepared for the consequences of their starting hostilities in the north, by assassinating DI Swanzy in Lisburn - which provoked wholesale loyalist attacks on Catholics. It was a long time before the came up with an organised plan to defend Catholics - most of whom at the time supported the IPP rather than SF. Nevertheless, their presence in their strongholds around the Falls deterred reprisals there while elsewhere Catholics suffered more.

Sections of the police - RIC and USC - quite openly carried out reprisals on Catholics in general and in some cases may even have been responsible for he actions they said they were avenging.

The IRA was flooded by recruits who wanted revenge on Protestants and themselves got into many sectarian attacks, including throwing hand grenades onto packed trams full of shipyard workers.

The British Army killed a lot of civilians, 70, but was at least even handed - 35 Catholics and 35 Protestants shot dead in rioting.

The violence in Belfast was not ended by the outbreak of civil war in the south as often stated, because the IRA in Belfast had already been defeated by then and many had already fled south to the Curragh to avoid internment in the north.
 

Little_Korean

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Sounds like a good book, will have to get a hold of it when I can.

Am not normally a fan of family histories by members of said families especially if they substitute evidence for gossip (another problem I have with a lot of 'local historians') but this one sounds interesting.

Definitely shows that the more recent Troubles wasn't anything new but just another chapter in a very long history.
 

former wesleyan

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They shot people crossing streets and bought the papers the next day to find out ' the sort ' they'd got. Classy place Belfast. :cool:
 

InsideImDancing

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Terrible times to be sure, a lot of people killed in Derry around that time too.
 

JohnD66

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Mags wrote for Fourthwrite - which is/was socialist republican.
I just googled her when you typed that which led to an indymedia article which calls her, 'the fascist provo'. I hadn't heard of her before to be honest.

Anyway, as far as I know there's no connection. Kieran Glennon was not involved in republican politics to knowledge.

Tom Glennon of the book returned to Belfast in the early 1930s but did not become involved in republican politics again. The RUC visited him in the 1940s but he apparently convinced them he no longer had any links with the IRA and they left him alone.
 
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RahenyFG

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Read in the book Political Football about Belfast Celtic's history that a lot of their games in the period between 1920-1922 involving the loyalist teams Glentoran and Linfied erupted into full scale trouble.
 

JohnD66

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Read in the book Political Football about Belfast Celtic's history that a lot of their games in the period between 1920-1922 involving the loyalist teams Glentoran and Linfied erupted into full scale trouble.
Haven't heard about that, but quite plausible. In 1912 at the time of the Home rule crisis there was a nasty riot at Celtic Park (Belfast), including revolver shots fired from the crowd when Belfast Celtic played Linfield.
 

RahenyFG

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Haven't heard about that, but quite plausible. In 1912 at the time of the Home rule crisis there was a nasty riot at Celtic Park (Belfast), including revolver shots fired from the crowd when Belfast Celtic played Linfield.
Read that too in the book. Ireland was truly mad at the time, a revolver at a football match.
 

JohnD66

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Read that too in the book. Ireland was truly mad at the time, a revolver at a football match.
There were shots fired at the first FAI Cup final too, in May 1922, just before the outbreak of civil war. Fired at Shamrock Rovers supporters (I know I know) who had invaded the changing room of the winning St James Gate team. A team ember was also an IRA man and had packed his revolver.
 

derryman

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I have a book sitting on my shelf which I read some years ago so as usual have subsequently forgotton everything in it. But I have now sitting before me . It was first published in 1922 but withdrawn from sale immediately because it was thought it would cause more trouble. It was written by Fr John Hassan and is called "The Belfast Pogroms 1920-22". It was reprinted in 1997 I think. But it has a blow by blow and day by day record of events through these years, It does not make good reading at all.

I dont have much time now but will watch this thread and perhaps contribute later.
I dont think it tells the story the same as the book being discussed here.
 

freewillie

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There were shots fired at the first FAI Cup final too, in May 1922, just before the outbreak of civil war. Fired at Shamrock Rovers supporters (I know I know) who had invaded the changing room of the winning St James Gate team. A team ember was also an IRA man and had packed his revolver.
The Rovers fan was starting the long tradition of robbing the belongings of players from their dressingroom
 

making waves

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I will be having a look at this book when I get a chance - in particular I will be looking at how he addresses the issue of attacks on trade union activists and socialists under the guise of a pogrom. The primary focus of the attacks by loyalist paramilitaries, the Northern Ireland state and British Imperialism was to divide the working class along religious lines in order to undermine the potential for united working class action that could have overthrown capitalism. The united class action during the Belfast Soviet in February 1919 terrified the political establishment and British imperialism. Sinn Fein also opposed the political unity of the working class and contributed to divisions by engaging in sectarian attacks against woking class Protestants.
 

picador

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On behalf of decent Belfast people like Northtipp and Myself I protest!
So, we've variously heard you claiming to be from Lurgan, 'Londonderry' and now Belfast.
 

DrNightdub

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in particular I will be looking at how he addresses the issue of attacks on trade union activists and socialists under the guise of a pogrom. The primary focus of the attacks by loyalist paramilitaries, the Northern Ireland state and British Imperialism was to divide the working class along religious lines in order to undermine the potential for united working class action that could have overthrown capitalism. The united class action during the Belfast Soviet in February 1919 terrified the political establishment and British imperialism.
I think you're interpreting history according to your convictions there. That's not a criticism of your convictions, towards which I would be broadly sympathetic.

The Belfast working class was already divided along religious lines - for example around the shipyards and docks, skilled engineering jobs were mainly the preserve of protestants whereas catholics were more likely to be the unskilled dockers and carters. Notwithstanding the dock strike of 1907, which showed how things could be different, the reality of Belfast was better defined by the sectarian riots of 1857, 1864, 1872, 1886, 1893 and 1912. A depressing litany.

I also think you're gilding the lily by referring to a "Belfast Soviet" in 1919. Yes, Belfast stayed out longer than even "Red Clydeside", but it was a strike for shorter hours in engineering, not for the overthrow of capitalism. It mushroomed, but ultimately went down to defeat - you could argue that this defeat then opened the door for a return to sectarian form the following year.

You're wrong to describe the "primary focus" of the pogrom as being to divide the working class. The primary focus was to show, in Carson's words, that "...we in Ulster will tolerate no Sinn Fein – no Sinn Féin organisation, no Sinn Féin methods." Yes, there were class divisions in Belfast at the time, as there were elsewhere in Ireland. But a far more significant division was that between unionism and nationalism. What were described as "the rotten prods" were identified as being equally as disloyal as nationalists and so became what could be described as collateral - though significant - damage in the attacks that followed. But the main target was nationalists, and that's really where From Pogrom to Civil War starts off.

Ironically, considering thousands of families were made homeless during the pogrom and there was massive overcrowding as a result in the lower Falls, there was also a strike of building workers in 1921 which lasted several months, but also went down to defeat. That's not mentioned in the book, though.

I suspect you're likely to find Austen Morgen's Labour and Partition - the Belfast Working Class 1905-23 more to your liking, paricularly its dedication - "To the 'rotten prods' of Belfast - victims of unionist violence and nationalist myopia." Though you probably won't like what he has to say about Connolly. From Pogrom to Civil War is more concerned with what was done to Belfast nationalists, both by their enemies in the north and their so-called friends in the south.
 
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