I’ve written before on ‘a common trap for Irish journalists and academics- the belief that bringing about peace in Ireland require berating the past violence of any Irish nationalists while justifying or even sanctifying that committed by the British government or its pawns in the unionist community.’ This trend does not merely occur among the Irish intelligentsia however, nor is it restricted to the apportioning of blame for the violence of recent decades. It also occurs in the form of many untruths about British rule in Ireland and how it came to an end which, despite being complete lies, are often repeated. The people who spread such myths, often in the sincere belief that they are true, are usually Irish people who believe that they are objectively embracing the truth and leaving behind the divisions of the past. In fact, they are ignoring the plight of the colonized and adopting the lies of the colonizer.
A prominent example of this relates to the Boundary Commission which was established by the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty. I have often heard it claimed that the recommendations made by this body were ignored by the Irish government because the transfer of territory would actually have resulted in a net loss of both land and people for the Free State. This is completely untrue. The findings of the commission, which are discussed here, recommended a net gain for the Free State. The reason that the Irish government rejected the commission’s findings (Which if adopted, were to be a permanent settlement) was that the area to be transferred from Northern Ireland to the Free State did not come anywhere close to their expectations:
While some areas such as South Armagh were to be transferred as expected, the Commission did not transfer large nationalist-majority tracts of counties Tyrone and Fermanagh and seemed reluctant to transfer any urban centres- Newry and Derry City were both to remain in the northern statelet. There were various reasons for this, among them being a concern that a massive alteration of the border would lead to instability. A more sinister reason may be found in the composition of the commission- Eoin McNeill was the sole Irish member and felt that he the two members appointed by the British government had actively worked against his nationalistic aims. Whatever the reasons and whether or not you feel these actions were correct the fact remains that at no point did the commission propose to take more land from the Free State than it was to gain.
There are many other examples of such lies and misrepresentations, many of which I plan to write about in future. Of course, nationalists (In particular, Catholic nationalists who attempt to link Catholicism with Irish identity) have long been guilty of peddling myths about the history of this country, and I do not condone any efforts to distort the truth about the past. The key difference however is that the Irish media often criticizes the white-washing of history by nationalists but it is seldom pointed out that unionists and their fellow-travellers are also capable of being disingenuous.