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Sinn Fein to celebrate partition anniversary

24 March 2021

Northern papers recently announced plans agreed by the Stormont speaker, Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey, to celebrate 100 years of partition in Ireland.

Say Wha?

One would imagine that there would be a storm of protest around this.  How can Sinn Fein celebrate partition?

Luckily there is a strong foundation for their pronouncements. The strategy of the major actors is led by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael through a "decade of centenaries,"  a plan to breeze through the events from the Easter Rising through Partition to the victory of counterrevolution in the foundation of the Free State.

There has been a number of missteps and glitches; including John Redmond as a supporter of the rising, protest at the inclusion of the names of British casualties at Glasnevin cemetery and a virtual uprising over attempts to commemorate the Royal Irish Constabulary, the Auxiliaries and the Black and Tans.

Luckily everyone is singing off the same postmodernist, indentarian and woke hymn sheet. There is no real history, only different perspectives that are all equally valid. This is the approach that is being used to navigate through the year, with prominent figures from the trade union movement and supporters of the Communist Party playing their part.

A striking example of this approach was provided in a recent RTE interview, when nationalist Joe Brolly answered the DUP's Gregory Campbell by calling out his racism, homophobia and hatred of the Irish language and Irish sport. Brolly was immediately cut off on the grounds that he was making unsubstantiated charges, yet these examples of DUP bigotry are matters of public record. In RTE the discussion will take place, not in the real world, but in a cultural sphere of equally valid identities.

The British have already stamped their authority on the details, deflecting away from the actual reality of partition and towards cultural figures of the 60s and 70s.

Mr Maskey said.

"While the different views on the centenaries in 2021 have to be respected, there is no doubting that the events they mark shaped our politics and our society for the decades which followed,"
Nor everyone is happy, but Sinn Fein have found that they can ignore republican voices of dissent.

On the right Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister described the programme as a;

"slight on what should be a significant date for everyone".
“Can anyone think of another country in the world which would not see a significant celebration at its parliament or assembly to mark the centenary of the state's birth?” he asked.
In fact the Unionists and British have made enormous gains. The British media constantly refer to the four nations of GB, a significant promotion for the Northern administration.  Allister is smarting because attempts to erect a commemoration stone at Stormont have been blocked, but loyalists will find plenty of opportunities to rub nationalist noses in their continued domination.

The commemoration of partition is unlikely to lead to any deep convulsion. The vast majority of the political parties present modern day partition as a democratic settlement, and one that can lead to economic prosperity for the workers. Ideas like a democratic Republic or a Workers Republic are reduced to the level of aspiration, rather than actual goals around which workers should organise.

However because appearance does not match reality, the centenary of partition sees both Irish administrations riven by internal contradictions, with Brexit and the management of covid-19 being the most obvious ones.

The anniversary of partition does not mark the end of history in Ireland.  Rather it is another pause in the long cycle of revolution and counterrevolution that marks that "most distressful country".

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