Friday, January 10, 2014

A Very Anglo Irish Civil War Part One

n 1936, a constitutional crisis in the British Empire was caused by King-Emperor Edward VIII's proposal to marry Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American socialite. The marriage was opposed by the King's governments in the United Kingdom and the autonomous Dominions of the British Commonwealth. Religious, legal, political, and moral objections were raised. As British monarch, Edward was the nominal head of the Church of England, which did not allow divorced people to remarry if their ex-spouses were still alive; so it was widely believed that Edward could not marry Mrs Simpson and remain on the throne. Mrs Simpson was perceived to be politically and socially unsuitable as a consort because of her two failed marriages. It was widely assumed by the Establishment that she was driven by love of money or position rather than love for the King. Despite the opposition, Edward declared that he loved Mrs Simpson and intended to marry her whether the governments approved or not.
 The widespread unwillingness to accept Mrs Simpson as the King's consort, and the King's refusal to give her up, led to Edward's abdication in December 1936.
that is what happened in this universe, but in alternate history...
In May 1937, King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom married Wallis Simpson. The marriage to Wallis was not recommended by Stanley Baldwin, the British Prime Minister; and Edward refused to abdicate. This marriage left the British government, and most of the people, alienated; and hatred for King Edward and Queen Wallis rose. In January 1938, a protest by Dockyard workers in Liverpool was brutally crushed by the army; and violent clashes began across the country; between the Kings troops and those of several other factions. The British Civil War had begun!
By 1938 the Governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom had been involved in a long-running Anglo Irish Trade War that was not in the interest of either country's economy. Negotiations to settle the matters in dispute took place in 1938. One of the items the Irish side pushed for was the return of the Treaty Ports. Ultimately, this was agreed to and the United Kingdom enacted Eire (Confirmation of Agreements) Act 19388the , which put in effect, among other things, the British government's agreement to return the Treaty Ports. On 12 July 1938, The Times reported on the handover of Spike Island, near Cobh
CORK FORTS HANDED OVER - Amid the booming of guns the last British troops stationed at Spike Island in Cork Harbour this evening handed over custody of the island and the adjoining fortifications to the troops of Eire.
This is the first stage in pursuance of the defence provisions of the agreement recently concluded in London between the British Government and Mr. de Valera. The defences at Berehaven and at Lough Swilly will be handed over to Irish custody before the end of the year. Spike Island has had a long and interesting history, and for more than 150 years the British flag has flown over it as one of the main defence works on the southern coast. For years Spike was a penal settlement and was continued as such down to the truce of 1921. To-day was the seventeenth anniversary of the truce.
For the ceremony of taking over the fortifications the Government of Eire sent out a number of invitations, the guests including Ministers, members of the Dáil and Senate, and leaders of the old Irish Republican Army. A decorated train brought the guests from Dublin to Cobh, and a tender carried them to Spike Island, where about 300 Irish troops had already landed under Major Maher. Only a small party of British troops remained, and Captain O'Halloran, who was in charge, handed over the forts to Major Maher on behalf of the Eire Government at 6.20 p.m., and the Union Jack was lowered. The British soldiers then went aboard the motor-vessel Innisfallen and left for Fishguard, a salute being fired as the vessel departed.
 The following are extracts from a speech Winston Churchill made to the British Houses of Parliament in 1938 warning of the "folly" of handing over the Treaty ports to the Irish Free State. He was one of only a few MPs who were critical of the Agreement.
When I read this Agreement in the newspapers a week ago I was filled with surprise. On the face of it, we seem to give everything away and receive nothing in return...But then I supposed there was another side to the Agreement, and that we were to be granted some facilities and rights in Southern Ireland in time of war. That, I notice, was the view taken by a part of the Press, but soon Mr. de Valera in the Dáil made it clear that he was under no obligations of any kind and, as the Prime Minister confirmed ...On the contrary, Mr. de Valera has not even abandoned his claim for the incorporation of Ulster...
We are told that we have ended the age-long quarrel between England and Ireland, but that is clearly not true, because Mr. de Valera has said that he will never rest until Partition is swept away. Therefore, the real conflict has yet to come...[The Anglo-Irish] Treaty has been kept in the letter and the spirit by Great Britain, but the Treaty has been violated and repudiated in every detail by Mr. de Valera....The ports in question, Queenstown, Berehaven and Lough Swilly, are to be handed over unconditionally, with no guarantees of any kind, as a gesture of our trust and good will, as the Prime Minister said, to the Government of the Irish Republic.
When the Irish Treaty was being shaped in 1922 I was instructed by the Cabinet to prepare that part of the Agreement which dealt with strategic reservations. I negotiated with Mr. Michael Collins, and I was advised by Admiral Beatty...The Admiralty of those days assured me that without the use of these ports it would be very difficult, perhaps almost impossible, to feed this Island in time of war. Queenstown and Berehaven shelter the flotillas which keep clear the approaches to the Bristol and English Channels, and Lough Swilly is the base from which the access to the Mersey and the Clyde is covered...If we are denied the use of Lough Swilly and have to work from Lamlash, we should strike 200 miles from the effective radius of our flotillas, out and home; and if we are denied Berehaven and Queenstown, and have to work from Pembroke Dock, we should strike 400 miles from their effective radius out and home. These ports are, in fact, the sentinel towers of the western approaches, by which the 45,000,000 people in this Island so enormously depend on foreign food for their daily bread, and by which they can carry on their trade, which is equally important to their existence.
In 1922 the Irish delegates made no difficulty about this. They saw that it was vital to our safety that we should be able to use these ports and, therefore, the matter passed into the structure of the Treaty without any serious controversy. Now we are to give them up, unconditionally, to an Irish Government led by men I do not want to use hard words whose rise to power has been proportionate to the animosity with which they have acted against this country, no doubt in pursuance of their own patriotic impulses, and whose present position in power is based upon the violation of solemn Treaty engagements.
But what guarantee have you that Southern Ireland, or the Irish Republic, as they claim to be and you do not contradict them will not declare hostilities  if we are engaged in Civil strife? Under this Agreement, it seems to me...that Mr. de Valera’s Government will at some supreme moment of emergency demand the surrender of Ulster as an alternative to declaring  hostilities.
Mr. de Valera has given no undertaking, except to fight against Partition as the main object of his life. It would be a serious step for a Dublin Government to attack these forts while they are in our possession and while we have the right to occupy them. It would be an easy step for a Dublin Government to deny their use to us once we have gone...You are casting away real and important means of security and survival for vain shadows and for ease.