Forced repatriation: where did it occur?

When you think of evidence of forced repatriation throughout history, where do you think of?

More recently you may think of the Palestinians. A lot of their land has been forcibly repatriated by Israeli settlers, and access to what’s left made more difficult. Discrimination and harassment are daily issues for them.

Maybe you can think of Crimea in Ukraine. Annexed by Russia in 2014, although most of the population wanted this to happen.

How about Tibet? Or the indigenous populations of America or Australia? Both have suffered suppression of their culture, language, and confiscation of land.

Going further back in time, think of how European colonial settlers used divide and conquer tactics to suppress opposition. If that didn’t work, they weren’t afraid to use conflict to expand their empires. It could be argued that a lot of the problems in former colonial territories today, are a direct result of these actions.

All the above are good examples, but I bet there’s one that won’t make most people’s lists.

What? You need a clue?

OK. Here you are…

  • There’s evidence that humans existed here since 10,500 BC.
  • The west tends to be wetter on average, especially in the late autumn and winter months.
  • The Pine Martin and Red Fox are native species.
  • The population is less now than 200 years ago.
  • There’s only one city with more than a million population.

Still not got it? OK here are some giveaways…

  • Their patron saint is celebrated around the world by natives and non-natives alike each March.
  • They suffered a series of famines in the mid 19th century that decimated the potato crop.
  •  Known for their like of a good tipple, they spell whiskey with an “e”.

Ireland? Really?

Yes really. 

The UK’s Tudor and Stuart monarchs implemented a “plantation” policy which saw Protestant settlers from England and Scotland aggressively colonise the country.

From the mid-16th century, Irish landowners were dispossessed to make way for the settlers. This resulted in a vicious cycle of rebellion against the English government, but only resulted in further dispossession of lands as punishment. The province of Munster was the first region to be heavily colonized, but following the Flight of Earls Ulster became pet project of King James I.

The displacement of the Irish was compounded by the threat to the Catholic church in Ireland. English Protestants dominated the Irish government, and Catholics were barred from holding state office. Additionally the Irish Parliament was subservient to its English counterpart as a result of the 15th century Poynings’ Law. Then during the early 17th century Irish constituencies were changed to allow the election of English and Scottish Protestant representatives, resulting in a Protestant majority in the Irish Parliament.

The past is your history lesson

There’s little argument, that the policy of colonizing Ireland has resulted in the issues we face there today. It is at the very heart of Irish history ever since.

Whether it is the Battle of the Boyne, Confederate Wars, 1798 Rebellion, or Easter Uprising, they’ve all centred on one aim: ending British rule in Ireland. The fact that part of Ireland is still ruled (quite literally at the moment) from Westminster, is at the heart of Irish and UK politics to this day.

If you learn one thing from this post, it’s that forced repatriation is never a good idea.

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