The Great Famine of Ireland is widely believed to be due to a failed potato crop which led to starvation for two-fifths of the population between 1845-1852 – with around 1 million people dead and another million emigrating from Ireland – causing Ireland’s population to drop by 25%.
However, it wasn’t due to the failed potato crop that led to the deaths of so many people, but the imposed English rules placed on the Irish that saw them being treated like slaves by English rulers, and prevented them from accessing other forms of food that would have prevented their deaths. The English were responsible for an Irish holocaust.
Uprootedpalestinians Blog reports:
It was not blighted potatoes that caused the Irish genocide of 150 years ago. Yes, there was potato blight at the time. It struck harvests in the autumn of 1845, and had begun in North Carolina, then spread throughout the Northern Hemisphere for several years – yet it did not cause famine or mass death anywhere, except in Ireland. Why was that?
Nor were potatoes the only major produce of Irish agriculture at the time; they were just the only produce which the Irish – 75 percent of whom were feudal tenants of mostly tyrannical British landlords, fanatical preachers of ‘free trade’ – were allowed to eat or to feed to their livestock! As the historian Arthur Young wrote, the Irish tenant farmers were, like so many others, effectively slaves.
“A landlord in Ireland can scarcely invent an order which a laborer, servant, or cottier [tenant farmer] dares to refuse… He may punish with his cane or his horsewhip with the most perfect security. A poor man would have his bones broken if he offered to lift a hand in his own defense.”
‘Free trade’ decreed that no government surplus food – no ‘welfare’ – be given to the starving, in order to leave the market for food undisturbed. “We do not propose,” Prime Minister Lord John Russell told the House of Commons, “to interfere with the regular mode by which Indian corn and other kinds of grain may be brought into Ireland.”
A prominent Irish author and journalist, Tim Pat Coogan, explores this shameful chapter in Ireland’s rich history in his book The Famine Plot:
England’s Role in Ireland’s Greatest Tragedy. In the final chapter, he recalls the xenophobic images and words commonly used to caricature the Irish in Victorian England. Colonial Administrator (and obvious psychopath) Charles Trevelyan, and other architects of the ‘famine response’, had a direct hand in filling the newspapers with the “oft-repeated theme that the famine was the result of a flaw in the Irish character.” And Punch, an English ‘satirical’ magazine, regularly portrayed “‘Paddy’ as a simian in a tailcoat and a derby, engaged in plotting murder, battening on the labour of the English workingman, and generally living a life of indolent treason,” explains Mr Coogan. The result of such dehumanising propaganda was to make unreasonable policy seem reasonable and just – historical revisionism in action!
Essentially, ‘free trade’ gave Irish farm families three choices when the potato crops failed:
– starve on their farms, while selling their grain crops to pay their rent
– report to the Public Works or the Poor Law workhouses to be worked/starved to death (as the Nazis did to the inmates of Auschwitz)
– emigrate and take the 50/50 chance of surviving the passage across the Atlantic.
According to the definitions of the Geneva Convention, what happened in Ireland between 1845-50 was Genocide. During those ‘potato famine years’ – food was systematically removed from the shores of Ireland, a policy conducted in full awareness that it was starving the population.
The result was a million deaths, with two million more emigrating.