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AN SIONNACH FIONN

The United Kingdom’s colony on the island of Ireland, from the historical Thirty-Two Counties to the contemporary Six Counties, has long been a source of ideological succour for maverick politicians from the UK. During the long transition between the 19th and 20th centuries a veritable cavalcade of desperate reactionaries from London passed through the streets and meeting-halls of Belfast, issuing fire and brimstone speeches to the loyalist faithful, vowing to maintain the “union” against whatever electoral or military odds it faced in the hopes of furthering their own parliamentary or ministerial careers back home.

In the late 1800s Lord Randolph Churchill MP, the father of the future wartime prime minister, urged the unionist minority in Ireland to resist the “home rule” legislation demanded by the nationalist majority, believing that the “Orange card would be the one to play” if he and his Conservative Party colleagues were to gain power in…

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