Posted by: Martin Scherer | 25/04/2011

Irish ‘troubles’ spread to Scotland


The Irish ‘troubles’ are often ascribed to the 17th Century Protestant emigration from Scotland into Northern Ireland. However, most are unaware of the Irish Catholic emigration to Scotland during the 1840’s. This month, religious bombers raised their ugly heads in Scotland.

Immigration always provokes hostility from the indigenous population. New immigrants compete for jobs, usually manual and semi-skilled jobs, and usually by accepting lower income. The indigenous working class populations faces fewer jobs and lower incomes.

The more different the immigrant is, the more difficult for them to assimilate. Difference may be physical or cultural. Cultural differences include speech, dress, and names. Many immigrants modify their names and acquire the same speech and dress. Physical differences, facial features, hair and skin colour, cannot be changed.

Where immigrant populations are high, assimilation occurs despite physical differences. It takes generations. First in children’s play, then in school, and in teenage through exchange of music. Over generations, black and white populations in both the UK and US have grown accustomed to each. In the UK, the children of Caribbean black immigrants and local whites, join in prejudice toward new immigrant populations. In the UK against Asian Indian, African blacks and white Polish. In the US blacks and whites join against Mexicans.

Some immigrants hold onto cultural differences. This is particularly true of Asian Indians in the UK. Prejudice against Asian immigrants is proving persistent over generations in the UK. The desire of immigrant children to assimilate often causes intergenerational conflict within immigrant populations.

The most common example of the failure to integrate is shown by the Jewish culture. Most UK and world cities have distinct Jewish areas, where Jews have lived for generations but maintain different dress and religious buildings.

There are no significant physical and very few cultural differences between those of Irish and Scottish descent in Scotland or Northern Ireland. So why has prejudice continued in Ireland for over 10 generations and in Scotland for over nearly 5 generations?

The difference is religion, and the economic consequences of different religious beliefs.

Protestant Scottish immigration brought prosperity to Northern Ireland but Catholic Irish immigration did not bring economic prosperity to Scotland. The same pattern can be seen around the world.

The Protestant reformation occurred in Northern Europe. Freed from dedication to The Church and domination by church appointed kings, northern Europe prospered. In contrast, Southern Catholic Europe has always been less affluent, despite a better climate. Today the Catholic countries of Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Ireland have horrendous debts and face the greatest austerity.

North America was colonised by Northern European Protestants – English, Germans, and Scandinavians. In contrast, South America was colonised by Southern European Catholics from Spain and Portugal. Despite greater mineral and natural wealth, Catholic South America did not prosper as Protestant North America. Why?

It seems The Catholics Church teaches believes that God will provide the answer. The Protestant Church teaches its believers to find the answers and be self-reliant. That leads to greater affluence amongst Protestants. The poorer Catholics are inevitably envious and resentful, especially when forced to live side by side with those more affluent. Ignorantly hey blame and kick against those they envy rather than the causes of their relative poverty.

For decades, Scotland’s sectarian conflict has been contained on the soccer pitch in symbolic struggle between Scotland’s two major soccer clubs: Catholic Celtic and Protestant Rangers. This month the sectarian conflict spilled out, into the terraces, Blogs and in letter bombs sent to soccer team managers and prominent supporters.

Football authorities threaten to close the gates. Scottish politicians protest strongly. However, the churches remain curiously silent.

Meanwhile the Provisional IRA declares they will continue to target Northern Irish police, and they will oppose next years State visit by the Queen to Ireland.


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