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Thread: Michael Collins: A Reappraisal

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    Politics.ie Newbie brasco's Avatar
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    Question Michael Collins: A Reappraisal

    To my knowledge Collins is viewed from misguided, traitor, hero, and pragmatist. Some idolize him, some berate him, some would like to see his memory thrown and left in the dustbin of history...

    But have attitudes really changed. Is Collins now accepted, do FF and SF now regard Collins as a real patriot, have they lost their hatred for Collins achievements, was Collins right?

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    Politics.ie Member TradCat's Avatar
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    How can there be anyone left in the country who isn't bored with Michael Collins by now?

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    Collins said the treaty was a stepping stone to Irish freedom which proves he was misguided.

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    Collins was a very unusual individual because he held so many strings together.
    He was a TD and member of the Dail which he barely recognised, a minister of the Irish cabinet which he loathed and worked to undermine, a signitary of the Anglo-Irish Treaty which he openly flouted, commander of the Irish Free State Army he was working to sabotage and commanded the loyalty of many anti-treaty IRA leaders he was tasked with going to war with.

    Collins's loyalty was to himself and the network of accolytes he surrounded himself with.

    Had he lived there is not clear what type of leader he would have been.

    Would he have ultimately become the leader of Fine Gael and served as Taoiseach and as a rival to De Valera and Fianna Fail?
    Would an Ireland dominated by Collins have moved to make peace with the Unionists, have been more economically liberal and less conservative?
    Would he have launched a military coup and made himself an authoritarian Generalissimo of a right wing Catholic Fascist regime like Franco's Spain, Mussolini's Italy or Józef Piłsudski's Poland?
    Would General Collins have joined the Allies during World War 2 or would he have remained neutral or would he have sided with Nazi Germany?

    We will never know.

    Collins died before his time but other leaders of the period have been overlooked - Liam Lynch, Kevin O' Higgins, Arthur Griffith and many more who died before they could play a part in the post-Civil War Ireland and would have checked the power of Collins or De Valera who are simplistically protrayed as the giants of the revolutionary period in Ireland.
    If Pearse, Connally, Clarke and other leaders had not been executed after 1916 the alternative history of Ireland would have been remarkably different.

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    When Collins died at Beal Na Blath, the leadership of the British Government, the Free State Government, the IRA and the Unionists all breathed a collective sigh of relief.

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    Politics.ie Member DaBrow's Avatar
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    Michael Collins was a Soldier and Military Tactician............................. He was not a master negotiator and was fooled by the Brits into Signing the Treaty not just because they threatened to wipe us off the face of the earth.

    Eamon Devalera Should have gone instead because he could've have rattled sabres with the likes of Churchill and that A**hole Lloyd George.

    Ireland was paritioned solely to keep the wealth of the North in British Possession......................

    Paul Foote, Ireland: Why Britain must pullout

    Explains this in great accurate detail


    Britain forcing the Treaty on Ireland are responsible for the bloodshed of Civil War and the Northern Troubles, not Dev or Collins.

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    Politics.ie Member Destiny's Soldier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swansandtyphus View Post
    Collins was a very unusual individual because he held so many strings together.
    He was a TD and member of the Dail which he barely recognised, a minister of the Irish cabinet which he loathed and worked to undermine, a signitary of the Anglo-Irish Treaty which he openly flouted, commander of the Irish Free State Army he was working to sabotage and commanded the loyalty of many anti-treaty IRA leaders he was tasked with going to war with.

    Collins's loyalty was to himself and the network of accolytes he surrounded himself with.

    Had he lived there is not clear what type of leader he would have been.

    Would he have ultimately become the leader of Fine Gael and served as Taoiseach and as a rival to De Valera and Fianna Fail?
    Would an Ireland dominated by Collins have moved to make peace with the Unionists, have been more economically liberal and less conservative?
    Would he have launched a military coup and made himself an authoritarian Generalissimo of a right wing Catholic Fascist regime like Franco's Spain, Mussolini's Italy or Józef Piłsudski's Poland?
    Would General Collins have joined the Allies during World War 2 or would he have remained neutral or would he have sided with Nazi Germany?

    We will never know.

    Collins died before his time but other leaders of the period have been overlooked - Liam Lynch, Kevin O' Higgins, Arthur Griffith and many more who died before they could play a part in the post-Civil War Ireland and would have checked the power of Collins or De Valera who are simplistically protrayed as the giants of the revolutionary period in Ireland.
    If Pearse, Connally, Clarke and other leaders had not been executed after 1916 the alternative history of Ireland would have been remarkably different.
    One of the best synopsis of Collins you could read. Well said.

    -He remained Commander In Chief of the IRB unbeknownst to Griffith and continued to organise and launch terror attacks after having signed the treaty.
    Cowardice asks the question - is it safe? Expediency asks the question - is it politic?
    Vanity asks the question - is it popular? But Conscience asks the question - is it right?
    And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular;but one must take it simply because it is right. -MLK

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    Quote Originally Posted by TradCat View Post
    How can there be anyone left in the country who isn't bored with Michael Collins by now?
    Good point.

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    Politics.ie Member merle haggard's Avatar
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    [quote=walrusgumble;1445383]with the huge exception to the north ( i dont say that in a dismissive attitude towards the north or what has happened in the past), but


    how in god's named do you make that one out. even dev acknolwedged this in one of his speeches in dail eireann years later (naturally not explicitly referring to collin's name) look what dev said when he entered the dail in 1926 about how the oath of allegiance was an empty formula.
    except when develera went into leinster house he almost immediately introduced an Irish cosntitution laying sovereign claim to the occupied territory and made explicit references to the nation , its territory and the right of irish people to national self determination being inviolate . Collins and his people did no such thing , and plainly had no intention and kept a British constitution . And an oath of allegiance to a foreign king . What Devalera stated was that the oath was en empty formula to him and his followers , a hoop they had to jump through . Those who had kept it and attempted to retain it and a British constitution for as long as humanly possible obviously didnt see it that way .

    couldn't that have being that attitude have being taken instead of forcing the state firing on republicans in the four courts, and still not surrender republican principles as seen by dev in 1932 onwards (again with exception to the north)
    i think youll find it was winston churchill and Lork Birkenhead who forced that one .

    with the risk as coming across condescending to you or anyone who knows the path taken by this part of the island in becoming a republic, i aint going to spell it out

    however, i will say,

    people like o'higgis, fitzgerald and cosgrave DID take advantage of the annual westiminster conferences along with other leaders of the new commonwealth and of course the changing ability etc of britain after ww1 by bringing in the statue of westminister of 1932, which for the first time allowed dominions to implement domestic legislation without the need to refer to westiminister.
    whoopee for them . If Birtian wants a law passed in Ireland it just sets off a bomb in Dublin or elsewhere in the sure knowlege the southern administration , whether FF or FG , will not only implememt the legislation but cover up the crime . Not even complain .

    you call that independence much less national independence ?

    dev took advantage of this when he came to power and gradually dismantled the terms of the treaty and effectively rescinding it by bunreacht na heireann. all of which came about with no effective interference by the british (bar economic war)
    but your arguing a different point here . Redmonds people could have done this too . Maybe quicker had it not been for 1916 and all that other bother .

    the point was Irish sovereignty , Irish national self determination . The Irish peoples right to it . That partiton was a crime , something that meant the Irish had no right to civilised values and forms of government . Only a British concession . A scrap , a bone to mangy dog almost too afraid to beg for more .

    collins referred to the treaty as a means of finally getting a parliament which would be recongised by britain (unlike dail of 1919) and thus getting the rest of the world to recongising some form of status for ireland. the treaty gave the irish more than what the 1914 home rule act was willing to give (albeit the north).. collins was saying what else would britain conceed to in the future.
    he also referred to it as a stepping stone . Fact was what they got was home rule for slow learners

    albeit a big chunk of the national territory , and all that goes with the smooth maintenance of partiton both sides of the border , is where you continually fall down . The right of the Irish people to self determination without foreign interference and all that . Seriously , the logic of your arguemnt is John Redmond was right

    who else would have got ireland better than the treaty? dev? no chance, he knew or was on very clear notice of what was on offer since july of 1921. his document no 2, although a bit before its time regarding the commonwealth, did not really distinguish itself from the treaty text.. and basically accepted the situation in the north
    who actually adopted document no 2 ? Nobody . Not sinn fein . Not the IRA . The republican movement made a lot of mistakes and keeping develera as a figurehead during 22 in particular was one of them . The Irish people had more choices than the British treaty and devs wee document that he kept to himself . They had more choices than dev and collins .

    Redmond would have got exactly the same without any 1916 , any insurgency , any black and tans , any civil war .


    who knows what would have occurred if collins had lived, if dev and collins and their people had reconcilled. one thing that is clear is that civil war should not have occurred.
    yeah but it did and collins launched it on British demands with British guns , artilerry , armoured cars and machine guns . Because he claimed the irish didnt have any guns .

    righto mick

    it broke this country for years, isolated nationalists in the north and made unionists harden their attitude towards the union. dev's entrance to dail eireann in 1926 is a fine example of being at least seen to acknowledge the free state without surrendering his moderate republican princple. the dail, established under the treaty terms was his motor for laying the foundations for irelands (26) eventualy seperation from the union.. (whatever name you wish to call it of course)
    except now its returned specifically to its 1936 constitutional position on the north , and is a member of the council of the British isles . Again it could have all been done by following redmond , maybe even quicker . National sovereignty and self determination was not acheived . Britian determines Irelands future , whats worse with Irish parliamentary assent , consent , and open and active adminsitrative collaboration . Collaboration which extends even to collusion in the mass murder of Irish citizens and the continued imposition of the most draconian legislation against Irish citizens .Who can be jailed on a garda opinion .

    jesus christ i sound like a fine gaeler (no i am not one of them by the way
    and your logic regarding giving up ones right to national self determination to British demands means you should extend it further and sound like a redmondite . Because all this could have been had without firing a shot . And possibly quicker had we made appeals regarding our valiant assitance to poor little catholic belgium , standing up against Johnny Turk etc etc

    the right of Irishmen from the 26 counties to don British army and police uniforms and carry British guns on Irish streets that Britian claims as its own is still enshrined today . These people are applauded as heroes by our natuive rulers . Hurrah for collins , dev and redmond .
    Last edited by merle haggard; 21st February 2009 at 09:30 PM.

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    There have been plenty of (re)evaluations of Collins. Not in the least after the GFA and the when the film came out. As always the historical complexities of it all remain a point of much discussion. This book (an edited volume) tackles this very well IMHO.

    "The thing that always annoyed me about traditional Irish historiography was the paradox of its Anglocentrism. People are now prepared, I think, to confront the possibility that many Irish problems are, in a sense, indigenous to the Irish situation." Roy Foster (1989).

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