Loyalism: A comparison of Ulster and Algeria

Drogheda445

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The recent history of Northern Ireland and the dispute surrounding its political status has few parallels in the world; above all else, its proximity to Britain and the strife that was created when its place within the Union was questioned is unique in British history. The events of 1912 are well known, and reveal a situation where Britain's political system seemed to be threatened by the ramifications of this particular dispute. Civil war, or at least some form of militant sedition, appeared likely, and large sections of British political opinion felt that the question went above and beyond the normal functioning of the British constitution; epitomised by Bonar Law's ominous line "there are things stronger than parliamentary majorities".

Meanwhile in Ulster itself, the issue led to a situation where those who would have considered themselves George V's most loyal subjects were threatening military action against the King's armed forces. In other words, they were taking matters into their own hands, believing that the Imperial Parliament could not be trusted to protect Ulster loyalists from Home Rule. Although the workings of traditional democracy would have made a case against the Ulster loyalists, given their minority position within Ireland as a whole, fear of domination by the Catholic majority and the strength of their identity made the democratic argument irrelevant. Crudely put; the empire loyalists, bound up by loyalty and identity, were not prepared to accept the majority's decision to part ways with the "mother country" and took matters into their own hands (despite the apparent contradictions this would imply regarding their loyalty to the government).

Another more recent example exists where similar action was taken by "empire loyalists" against their Imperial government and the majority that sought independence. Algeria remained a French possession until 1962, and contained within it roughly 1 million "loyalists" known as Pieds-Noir. As an integral part of metropolitan France (as opposed to pure colonies such as Senegal or protectorates like Morocco), it was viewed by both the loyalists and many within France as part of the French nation; as Ireland would have been seen during the days of Union.

Evidently, many differences exist between these two examples; Algerian Pieds-Noir, unlike Ulster loyalists, were an ethnically diverse group which included, apart from French Catholics, Algeria's Jewish population that saw itself as better protected under French colonial rule. The divisions between Pieds-Noir and Algerian Arabs ran far deeper than among Ulster Protestants and Catholics. In addition, Arabs also had far fewer political rights (denied both the right to vote and most benefits of French citizenship) and very little access to education.

Regardless, the situation that played out in Algeria half a century after the Home Rule Crisis paints a remarkably similar picture to events in Ulster. Pieds-Noir felt sold out by the government in Paris and were prepared to put up a fight to resist French withdrawal. Some proposed a solution similar to the partition of Ireland, where the departments around the coast would remain within France itself (particularly the areas around the cities of Algiers, Oran and Constantine), but the sheer distance between these areas and the scattered nature of the Pieds-Noir made such a solution unworkable.

Crucially, as in Britain, elements within the armed forces were prepared to oppose government attempts to pull out of Algeria; their lingering nationalism overbearing any obedience to civilian government. Indeed, the military twice attempted to stage a coup d'état to prevent such an event from taking place; once in May 1958 (when Charles de Gaulle was returned to power), and again in April 1961 following De Gaulle's commitment to respect Algeria's right to self-determination. The independence struggle in Algeria threatened to tear French society apart and French democracy was very nearly snuffed out.

Also, as with Ulster/Northern Ireland, militant vigilante groups were set up within French loyalist communities to prevent independence, the most prominent of which was the Organisation armée secrète, the OAS. Despite intense campaigns of bombings and confrontation with both the Algerian FLN and the French Army itself, Algeria was granted independence in July 1963. Hundreds of thousands of Pieds-Noirs fled Algeria and "resettled" in France itself.

Developments in Northern Ireland were superseded by other events, specifically the First World War, and i would argue that the bargaining position of Unionists within the British Government, their already impressive military organisation, and the general political environment of the early 20th century (which was not nearly so favourable to decolonisation as it was fifty years later) ensured that Ulster unionists would not be threatened by all-Ireland independence, and through the creation of the Northern Irish state were able to (mostly) remain within the United Kingdom.

Is this a far comparison to make? I think it's also important to ask what the lessons can be gleaned from the Algerian case if the UK were to withdraw from Northern Ireland (bearing in mind that even if there were to be a democratic vote in favour of unity, a sizeable minority wouldn't want anything to do with a United Ireland)?
 


between the bridges

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Cub, Although freds about themuns are generally a good place to start, there obviously tisn't enough flaming to provide the spark for traction, so moi will see what I can do...

Given that the mexicant free province of greater Bavaria claims its , ahem, independence as being the result of a proclamation and use of force. tisn't it nat hypocritical sh!te to yap about themuns doing the same thing as ye lot are just a bunch of copy cats...



23 September 1913 a Provisional Government for Ulster was declared. Within two months the Irish Citizen Army and Eoin MacNeill's Irish Volunteers had been set up by the Nationalists to mirror the UVF, but it was a further two years before the Nationalists issued their own Proclamation of a Provisional Government...
 

DavidCaldwell

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If a majority of people in Northern Ireland voted to join the Republic, my guess is that it would go the way of Brexit - peacefully implement the vote, lots of talking - rather than the way of Algerian independence - 900,000 Pied-Noirs becoming refugees, 50,000 - 150,000 Harkis killed.

That is my guess, my hope. But you can argue that it is likely to be peaceful. After all, there would be considerably less bitterness than in 1922 Ireland, the events of which were already a lot milder than those of Algeria.
 

GDPR

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No- Irish Republicanism was never outside of the scum of INLA and IPLO anything remotely like the murderous filth of the FLN. Also though I'm fond of Ulster Prods outside of rare instances such as Francis Stuart (who by the way was an Irish Republican for most of his life) they just cannot be compared to the Pied Noir who are actually among the finest stocks of France.
 

PO'Neill

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The recent history of Northern Ireland and the dispute surrounding its political status has few parallels in the world; above all else, its proximity to Britain and the strife that was created when its place within the Union was questioned is unique in British history. The events of 1912 are well known, and reveal a situation where Britain's political system seemed to be threatened by the ramifications of this particular dispute. Civil war, or at least some form of militant sedition, appeared likely, and large sections of British political opinion felt that the question went above and beyond the normal functioning of the British constitution; epitomised by Bonar Law's ominous line "there are things stronger than parliamentary majorities".

Meanwhile in Ulster itself, the issue led to a situation where those who would have considered themselves George V's most loyal subjects were threatening military action against the King's armed forces. In other words, they were taking matters into their own hands, believing that the Imperial Parliament could not be trusted to protect Ulster loyalists from Home Rule. Although the workings of traditional democracy would have made a case against the Ulster loyalists, given their minority position within Ireland as a whole, fear of domination by the Catholic majority and the strength of their identity made the democratic argument irrelevant. Crudely put; the empire loyalists, bound up by loyalty and identity, were not prepared to accept the majority's decision to part ways with the "mother country" and took matters into their own hands (despite the apparent contradictions this would imply regarding their loyalty to the government).

Another more recent example exists where similar action was taken by "empire loyalists" against their Imperial government and the majority that sought independence. Algeria remained a French possession until 1962, and contained within it roughly 1 million "loyalists" known as Pieds-Noir. As an integral part of metropolitan France (as opposed to pure colonies such as Senegal or protectorates like Morocco), it was viewed by both the loyalists and many within France as part of the French nation; as Ireland would have been seen during the days of Union.

Evidently, many differences exist between these two examples; Algerian Pieds-Noir, unlike Ulster loyalists, were an ethnically diverse group which included, apart from French Catholics, Algeria's Jewish population that saw itself as better protected under French colonial rule. The divisions between Pieds-Noir and Algerian Arabs ran far deeper than among Ulster Protestants and Catholics. In addition, Arabs also had far fewer political rights (denied both the right to vote and most benefits of French citizenship) and very little access to education.

Regardless, the situation that played out in Algeria half a century after the Home Rule Crisis paints a remarkably similar picture to events in Ulster. Pieds-Noir felt sold out by the government in Paris and were prepared to put up a fight to resist French withdrawal. Some proposed a solution similar to the partition of Ireland, where the departments around the coast would remain within France itself (particularly the areas around the cities of Algiers, Oran and Constantine), but the sheer distance between these areas and the scattered nature of the Pieds-Noir made such a solution unworkable.

Crucially, as in Britain, elements within the armed forces were prepared to oppose government attempts to pull out of Algeria; their lingering nationalism overbearing any obedience to civilian government. Indeed, the military twice attempted to stage a coup d'état to prevent such an event from taking place; once in May 1958 (when Charles de Gaulle was returned to power), and again in April 1961 following De Gaulle's commitment to respect Algeria's right to self-determination. The independence struggle in Algeria threatened to tear French society apart and French democracy was very nearly snuffed out.

Also, as with Ulster/Northern Ireland, militant vigilante groups were set up within French loyalist communities to prevent independence, the most prominent of which was the Organisation armée secrète, the OAS. Despite intense campaigns of bombings and confrontation with both the Algerian FLN and the French Army itself, Algeria was granted independence in July 1963. Hundreds of thousands of Pieds-Noirs fled Algeria and "resettled" in France itself.

Developments in Northern Ireland were superseded by other events, specifically the First World War, and i would argue that the bargaining position of Unionists within the British Government, their already impressive military organisation, and the general political environment of the early 20th century (which was not nearly so favourable to decolonisation as it was fifty years later) ensured that Ulster unionists would not be threatened by all-Ireland independence, and through the creation of the Northern Irish state were able to (mostly) remain within the United Kingdom.

Is this a far comparison to make? I think it's also important to ask what the lessons can be gleaned from the Algerian case if the UK were to withdraw from Northern Ireland (bearing in mind that even if there were to be a democratic vote in favour of unity, a sizeable minority wouldn't want anything to do with a United Ireland)?
Firstly, it's not even ' Ulster ' to begin with but the six county statelet brought about by British guns not unionist ones. And a Loyalism: A comparison of the southern unionists when partition was announced and the unionists in the present occupied counties wold be obviously more relevant than looking at Algeria or Vietman or wherever.

' Sigh ' ........ Heard it all before " the Protestant people of Ulster will take no more..... we will fight to the last mon........ their will be a blood trail from Donegal to Cork etc, etc, etc...... ". You were going to do the same if the B Specials were disbanded, if the Anglo Irish agreement wasn't dropped, if they didn’t get down Garvagh Road, the Good Friday Agreement, if the RUC cap badge was changed, if the ' fleg ' was taken down at Belfast city hall blah, blah, blah blah, blah, blah

Their were no shortage of unionists in Donegal, Monaghan, Cavan etc as well as even Dublin where Carson was from and elected several unionists in the 1918 election gobbing off how there would be a blood bath etc if Home Rule/Irish Independence came about. But when the Brits said - We are going, if you want to fight to the last man etc, well you can do it without us. What happened the big, bad threatened violence on a massive scale ? Nothing of course, barely a whimper. Indeed it says it all about unionist 'loyalty' that they abandoned their brethren in the border counties and the rest of the country without a thought.
 

PO'Neill

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Cub, Although freds about themuns are generally a good place to start, there obviously tisn't enough flaming to provide the spark for traction, so moi will see what I can do...

Given that the mexicant free province of greater Bavaria claims its , ahem, independence as being the result of a proclamation and use of force. tisn't it nat hypocritical sh!te to yap about themuns doing the same thing as ye lot are just a bunch of copy cats...



23 September 1913 a Provisional Government for Ulster was declared. Within two months the Irish Citizen Army and Eoin MacNeill's Irish Volunteers had been set up by the Nationalists to mirror the UVF, but it was a further two years before the Nationalists issued their own Proclamation of a Provisional Government...
The Brits executed Roger Casement accusing him of treason for trying to bring in arms while the traitorous Carson was given a peerage, says it all. But I'm sure when a border poll is called and if/when the nationalists win it, the DUP, UUP, Orange Order etc will abide by a democratic majority which they have always proclaimed while unionism had the numbers and assist in all ways rooting any any loyalist trouble makers ?

The good old days but gone forever :lol:



 

GDPR

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If I thought that the Shinners were remotely similar to the FLN I would throw my lot in with scum like "between the bridges". One of the two people I know who I really believe could be Saints and will end up being glorified as such after their deaths is Pied Noir. In my avatar is Lieutenant-Colonel Jean Bastien-Thiry who attempted in the final hours of the Algerian Crisis to over throw the treasonous Fifth Republic in order to hold on the Algerian province and kick out the Yanks by establishing a joint Catholic and Islamic provisional Dictatorship. Refusing a blind fold with his fingers clutching the Rosary he looked his murderers straight in the eye.

The traitor De Gaulle (and the one thing I have against George Berannos is the admiration he held for that scumbag) said of him; "The French need martyrs ... They must choose them carefully. I could have given them one of those idiotic generals playing ball in Tulle prison. I gave them Bastien-Thiry. They'll be able to make a martyr of him. He deserves it." He knew that he was murdering the very flower of French manhood.

[video=youtube;9YNN5GaEBLc]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YNN5GaEBLc[/video]
 

Ardillaun

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If a majority of people in Northern Ireland voted to join the Republic, my guess is that it would go the way of Brexit - peacefully implement the vote, lots of talking - rather than the way of Algerian independence - 900,000 Pied-Noirs becoming refugees, 50,000 - 150,000 Harkis killed.

That is my guess, my hope. But you can argue that it is likely to be peaceful. After all, there would be considerably less bitterness than in 1922 Ireland, the events of which were already a lot milder than those of Algeria.
Whatever the political arrangement, most sensible people will get on with their lives.
 


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