'An tOcras Mór' The Great Hunger.

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SWIFTY
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Contemporary opinion was sharply critical of the Russell government's response to and management of the crisis. From the start, there were accusations that the government failed to grasp the magnitude of the disaster. Sir James Graham, who had served as Home Secretary in Sir Robert Peel's late government, wrote to Peel that, in his opinion, "the real extent and magnitude of the Irish difficulty are underestimated by the Government, and cannot be met by measures within the strict rule of economical science."

This criticism was not confined to outside critics. The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord Clarendon, wrote a letter to Russell on April 26, 1849, urging that the government propose additional relief measures: "I do not think there is another legislature in Europe that would disregard such suffering as now exists in the west of Ireland, or coldly persist in a policy of extermination."[124] Also in 1849 the Chief Poor Law Commissioner, Edward Twisleton, resigned in protest over the Rate-in-Aid Act, which provided additional funds for the Poor Law through a 6p in the pound levy on all rateable properties in Ireland.[125] Twisleton testified that "comparatively trifling sums were required for Britain to spare itself the deep disgrace of permitting its miserable fellow subjects to die of starvation." According to Peter Gray, in his book The Irish Famine, the government spent £7,000,000 for relief in Ireland between 1845 and 1850, "representing less than half of one percent of the British gross national product over five years. Contemporaries noted the sharp contrast with the 20 million pounds compensation given to West Indian slave-owners in the 1830s."

Other critics maintained that even after the government recognised the scope of the crisis, it failed to take sufficient steps to address it. John Mitchel, one of the leaders of the Young Ireland Movement, wrote the following in 1860: "I have called it an artificial famine: that is to say, it was a famine which desolated a rich and fertile island that produced every year abundance and superabundance to sustain all her people and many more. The English, indeed, call the famine a 'dispensation of Providence;' and ascribe it entirely to the blight on potatoes. But potatoes failed in like manner all over Europe; yet there was no famine save in Ireland. The British account of the matter, then, is first, a fraud; second, a blasphemy. The Almighty, indeed, sent the potato blight, but the English created the famine."

Still other critics saw reflected in the government's response the government's attitude to the so-called "Irish Question". Nassau Senior, an economics professor at Oxford University, wrote that the Famine "would not kill more than one million people, and that would scarcely be enough to do any good."[126] It is not clear from this quote, however, whether Nassau Senior was speaking from a Malthusian context.[citation needed] In 1848, Denis Shine Lawlor suggested that Russell was a student of the Elizabethan poet Edmund Spenser, who had calculated "how far English colonisation and English policy might be most effectively carried out by Irish starvation."

Charles Trevelyan, the civil servant with most direct responsibility for the government's handling of the famine, described it in 1848 as "a direct stroke of an all-wise and all-merciful Providence", which laid bare "the deep and inveterate root of social evil"; the Famine, he affirmed, was "the sharp but effectual remedy by which the cure is likely to be effected. God grant that the generation to which this opportunity has been offered may rightly perform its part.


June 30, 2011 at 4:24 AM Flag Quote & Reply

SWIFTY
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Historical

Christine Kinealy expresses the consensus of historians when she states that "the major tragedy of the Irish Famine of 1845–52 marked a watershed in modern Irish history. Its occurrence, however, was neither inevitable nor unavoidable."The underlying factors which combined to cause the famine were aggravated by an inadequate government response. As Kinealy notes,

"...[T]he government had to do something to help alleviate the suffering, the particular nature of the actual response, especially following 1846, suggests a more covert agenda and motivation. As the Famine progressed, it became apparent that the government was using its information not merely to help it formulate its relief policies, but also as an opportunity to facilitate various long-desired changes within Ireland. These included population control and the consolidation of property through various means, including emigration... Despite the overwhelming evidence of prolonged distress caused by successive years of potato blight, the underlying philosophy of the relief efforts was that they should be kept to a minimalist level; in fact they actually decreased as the Famine progressed."

Several writers single out the decision of the government to permit the continued export of food from Ireland as suggestive of the policy-makers attitude. Leon Uris suggested that "there was ample food within Ireland", while all the Irish-bred cattle were being shipped off to England.[ The following exchange appeared in Act IV of George Bernard Shaw's play Man and Superman:

MALONE. He will get over it all right enough. Men thrive better on disappointments in love than on disappointments in money. I daresay you think that sordid; but I know what I'm talking about. My father died of starvation in Ireland in the black 47, Maybe you've heard of it.

VIOLET. The Famine?

MALONE. [with smouldering passion] No, the starvation. When a country is full of food, and exporting it, there can be no famine. My father was starved dead; and I was starved out to America in my mother's arms. English rule drove me and mine out of Ireland. Well, you can keep Ireland. I and my like are coming back to buy England; and we'll buy the best of it. I want no middle class properties and no middle class women for Hector. That's straightforward isn't it, like yourself?

Critics of British imperialism point to the structure of empire as a contributing factor. J. A. Froude wrote that "England governed Ireland for what she deemed her own interest, making her calculations on the gross balance of her trade ledgers, and leaving moral obligations aside, as if right and wrong had been blotted out of the statute book of the Universe."[13] Dennis Clark, an Irish-American historian, claimed that the famine was "the culmination of generations of neglect, misrule and repression. It was an epic of English colonial cruelty and inadequacy. For the landless cabin dwellers it meant emigration or extinction.


June 30, 2011 at 4:25 AM Flag Quote & Reply

SWIFTY
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Posts: 1033

 

Suggestions of genocide

 

 

Ireland's Holocaust mural on the Ballymurphy Road, Belfast. "An Gorta Mór, Britain's genocide by starvation, Ireland's holocaust 1845–1849."

The famine is still a controversial event in Irish history. Debate and discussion on the British government's response to the failure of the potato crop in Ireland and the subsequent large-scale starvation, and whether or not this constituted genocide, remains a historically and politically-charged issue.

In 1996, Francis A. Boyle, a law professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, wrote a report commissioned by the New York-based Irish Famine/Genocide Committee, which concluded that the British government deliberately pursued a race and ethnicity-based policy aimed at destroying the group commonly known as the Irish people and that the policy of mass starvation amounted to genocide per the Hague convention of 1948.[fn 11] On the strength of Boyle's report, the U.S. state of New Jersey included the famine in the "Holocaust and Genocide Curriculum" at the secondary tier.

Historian Peter Duffy writes that "The government's crime, which deserves to blacken its name forever ..." was rooted "in the effort to regenerate Ireland" through "landlord-engineered replacement of tillage plots with grazing lands" that "took precedence over the obligation to provide food ... for its starving citizens. It is little wonder that the policy looked to many people like genocide."

Several commentators have argued that the searing effect of the famine in Irish cultural memory has effects similar to that of genocide, while maintaining that one did not occur. Robert Kee suggests that the Famine is seen as "comparable" in its force on "popular national consciousness to that of the 'final solution' on the Jews," and that it is not "infrequently" thought that the Famine was something very like, "a form of genocide engineered by the English against the Irish people." This point was echoed by James Donnelly, a historian at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, who wrote in his work Landlord and Tenant in Nineteenth-century Ireland, "I would draw the following broad conclusion: at a fairly early stage of the Great Famine the government's abject failure to stop or even slow down the clearances (evictions) contributed in a major way to enshrining the idea of English state-sponsored genocide in Irish popular mind. Or perhaps one should say in the Irish mind, for this was a notion that appealed to many educated and discriminating men and women, and not only to the revolutionary minority...And it is also my contention that while genocide was not in fact committed, what happened during and as a result of the clearances had the look of genocide to a great many Irish..."

Historian Cormac Ó Gráda disagreed that the famine was genocide: first, that "genocide includes murderous intent and it must be said that not even the most bigoted and racist commentators of the day sought the extermination of the Irish"; second, that most people in Whitehall "hoped for better times in Ireland" and third, that the claim of genocide overlooks "the enormous challenges facing relief efforts, both central, local, public and private". Ó Gráda thinks that a case of neglect is easier to sustain than that of genocide.[137] However, people in charge like chief of the Government relief Charles Trevelyan contradict a "neglect" but rather hazarded the consequenses from the colonial perspective that the Famine was a "mechanism for reducing surplus population" and a "judgement of God"

 

 

Famine Memorial in Dublin

Views of the Irish as racially inferior, and for this reason significantly responsible for their circumstances, gained purchase in Great Britain during and immediately after the famine, especially through influential publications such as The Medical Times and The Times.

Irish columnist John Waters has described the famine as "an act of genocide, driven by racism and justified by ideology


The Great Famine is memorialised in many locations throughout Ireland, especially in those regions that suffered the greatest losses, and also in cities overseas with large populations descended from Irish immigrants. These include, at Custom House Quays, Dublin, the thin sculptural figures, by artist Rowan Gillespie, who stand as if walking towards the emigration ships on the Dublin Quayside. There is also a large memorial at the Murrisk Millennium Peace Park at the foot of Croagh Patrick in County Mayo.[140] Among the memorials in the U.S. is the Irish Hunger Memorial near a section of the Manhattan waterfront in New York City, where many fleeing Irish arrived. An annual Great Famine walk, the brainchild of the Irish author/humanitarian, Don Mullan, from Doolough to Louisburgh, Co. Mayo, was inaugurated in 1988 and has been led by such notable personalities as Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The walk, organised by AFrI Action From Ireland, takes place on the first or second Saturday of May and links the memory of the Great Hunger with a contemporary Human Rights issue. Commemorating the Doolough Tragedy, the walk was covered by the three major US television networks: ABC, NBC and CBS, during its first three years.


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WHEN GENOCIDE BECAME "FAMINE" : IRELAND, 1845 - 1850

This petition seeks your support for a campaign to:

* Persuade relevant authors, editors and website content providers to stop using the word ‘Famine’ for what took place in Ireland between 1845 and 1850, and start using terms such as, "The Great Hunger" or 'An tOcras Mór

PETITION LINK- TO CHANGE THE WORD FAMINE http://www.petitions24.com/when_famine_became_genocide_ireland_1845_-_1850


June 30, 2011 at 4:27 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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