Contemporary Catholic and Protestant Irish America: Social Identities, Forgiveness, and Attitudes toward the Troubles
Roe, Micheal D., Eire-Ireland: a Journal of Irish Studies
The intractability of ethnic conflicts is due in part to their selective focus on the past. Images of the past are used to legitimate the present social order, but such order presupposes shared memories, and as memories diverge, a society's members share neither experiences nor assumptions. (1) In addition, many of those memories are of past violence and humiliations, which have not been acknowledged or atoned for by the aggressors or their descendants, resulting in continuing pain, fear, and hatred in the victimized people. (2) It is not surprising that interventions seeking lasting peace in ethnic conflicts often involve a revisiting of the history of each side and an acceptance of responsibility for past actions of one's own community. Today this recovering of politically violent pasts can be observed in South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (3) and in Guatemala's Recovery of the Historic Memory Project. (4) In addition to accountability for past actions, some also are calling for corporate forgiveness of political violence as an ultimate step in reconciliation; (5) and such interventions are being at least tentatively explored for Northern Ireland. (6)
Political violence in Ireland/Northern Ireland has a history centuries old, and selective "remembering" of that history perpetuates current sectarian attitudes and conflict. (7) Northern Irish Catholics and Protestants as distinct ethnic groups selectively remember, construct, interpret, and commemorate their shared history, resulting in distinct ethnic or social memories. (8) In Lyons's Social Identity Process Theory, these social memories serve to demonstrate each community's continuity, collective self-esteem, distinctiveness, efficacy, and cohesion. (9) Northern Ireland's political violence certainly is not on the scale of the horrific aggression observed in settings such as South Africa or Guatemala. On the other hand, Northern Ireland is inhabited by only about 1.7 million people, distributed among close-knit urban neighborhoods and rural communities. (10) Consequently, the thirty years of current conflict have touched the entire country. (11) Currently, Northern Ireland is experiencing a formal cessation of armed conflict between the major paramilitary organizations and security forces, although violence between the two communities still erupts, and tension provides a constant backdrop. However, it does not necessarily follow that a cessation in armed conflict results in a cessation of sectarian attitudes. (12)
More than any other European nation, Ireland (North and South) has been characterized by emigration during the past three centuries. (13) Today in the United States alone, more than 40 million Americans claim some Irish descent. (14) The vast size of this immigrant population alone provides an impetus for a contemporary examination of its relationship with and attitudes toward Northern Ireland's political violence. Historically, Irish-American influence in Northern Ireland has been dominated by those with nationalist political agendas and a primary focus on constitutional politics. Lobbyists working at grass-roots level and political leaders in Washington, D.C., maintained pressure on Britain's policy in Ireland even before the enactment of partition in 1920. Utilizing a different strategy focused on economic injustice, Irish Americans established the McBride Principles in 1984 to counter Catholic economic disadvantage in Northern Ireland, with particular focus on discrimination in employment. (15) More militant Irish Americans, who support republican agendas, have raised millions of dollars for Irish republican causes, supplied the Irish Republican Army with weaponry, and aided its men on the run or those incarcerated. (16) The 1990s saw a presidential administration involved in the Northern Ireland conflict on an unprecedented scale. (17)
Though there is substantial historical literature on Irish America, surprisingly few social and behavioral studies have been carried out. (18) Social histories of Irish-American Catholics (19) and the Scotch-Irish in America, (20) along with sociological studies of Irish-American Catholics, (21) do provide some psychological insights. Yet, aside from some data on rates of mental disorders, little direct psychological research has been done on Irish emigrants in general and Irish Americans in particular. (22) Garavan, Doherty, and Moran suggest that this neglect may be due to two reasons. First, the general success of Irish immigrants in their host cultures, especially in the twentieth century, has meant that few social, psychological, or political "adjustment problems" have emerged to capture the interest of twentieth-century and now twenty-first-century psychologists. Second, emigration from Ireland has been perceived rather ambivalently. In the tradition of the "American Wake," emigrants have been considered dead to their homeland; consequently, there has been little incentive (at least for Irish psychologists) to follow up on these former countrymen and women. (23) In an electronic-mail survey of almost five hundred Irish emigrants, over half of whom were living in North America, Garavan and his colleagues found, at least among their sample of predominantly highly educated professionals, "a picture of being generally well received and quite content in their new homes." (24) Providing some contrast to these findings, S.J. Field discovered in her interview study of Irish emigrants to the U.S. that they faced being stereotyped according to perceived negative and positive "Irish" traits. (25) Field's subjects found that their received social identity was in contradiction to their personal self-concept, and that they were forced to apply a number of strategies to "construct and affirm personal identities that [produced] feelings of self-respect and personal worth." (26)
Additional psychological research on Irish emigrants focuses on the Irish in Britain. For example, Michael Curran and Mac MacLachlan, who direct the Irish Diaspora Project at Trinity College Dublin, are currently investigating the link between acculturation and health with a new psychological measure, the Trinity Acculturation Scale. (27) Liam Greenslade has studied Irish immigrants in Britain, and argues that their high rates of premature mortality and physical and mental illness are linked to the economic and cultural effects of Ireland's colonial relationship to England. (28) Others have made similar arguments from examinations of Irish identity in England and its relationship to discrimination, stereotyping, and coping styles. (29)
The present social psychological study of Irish America emerged from attempts to understand the maintenance and reproduction of social identities and social memories in the larger Irish diaspora, and to explore this diaspora's attitudes toward the political violence in Northern Ireland. It is part of a five-nation study with research teams in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Australia, England, and the United States, representing a first step in developing parallel methodologies and performing comparative analyses across the five nations. (30) The Irish-American sample is the primary focus of this article, but comparisons with the other national samples will be provided on a few particularly relevant findings. (31)
Data from approximately one hundred forty participants were collected in 1998. The Irish-American sample was obtained by seeking volunteers from family and friendship networks, ethnic organizations, Irish dance or language classes, and local Irish-American newsletters. (32) Ninety persons were categorized as Irish Americans in this study; the remaining participants composed a non-Irish-American comparison group. (33) The Irish Americans included American citizens with Irish ancestry and a few Irish or Northern Irish citizens residing in the United States. They were born in a great variety of states with about one-third from the West Coast. Thirteen percent were born in Ireland or Northern Ireland. Although they live across the United States (including in areas known for their high concentrations of Irish Americans, such as New York, Boston, and Chicago), fully 70 percent currently reside in the Pacific Northwest. Finally, 54 percent were raised Roman Catholic and 40 percent were raised Protestant, with five participants claiming neither denominational identification.
The study's instrument was developed in collaboration with the research teams in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, and Australia (the England team joined a year into the study). For the most part the final version was equivalent across the five national settings. It was composed of six sections: demographics, including emigration experiences; knowledge of recent political and historical events and of more distant historical events often associated with Protestant and Catholic social memories (e.g., massacres, penal laws, the Republic's claims on the North); national and sectarian social identities; (34) political solutions to the conflict in Northern Ireland; social solutions to the conflict in Northern Ireland, including corporate forgiveness; (35) and formal religiosity scales assessing Christian orthodoxy, and extrinsic and intrinsic religious orientations. (36)
Over 75 percent of Irish Americans in this study evaluated their Irish heritage as moderately to very important. They participated in a great variety of activities related to their heritage, including reading, music, dance, Irish language, St. Patrick's Day, Irish-American community organizations, travel, education/study/research, genealogy, and general cultural events. An important distinction emerged between those Irish Americans raised Catholic and those raised Protestant. The Catholic participants rated their Irish heritage significantly more important than did the Protestant participants and, consonant with this difference, these Catholics participated in significantly more activities related to their Irish heritage than did the Protestants.
Emigration and continuing contact with Ireland/Northern Ireland
Over one-half of the Irish Americans traced an emigration experience from a great-grandparent, grandparent, or parent on their mother's and/or father's side of the family. Ten were first-generation emigrants, evenly split between Catholics and Protestants. Of those who knew where their Irish ancestors had originated, twenty-four of the thirty-two counties in Ireland and Northern Ireland were named. A substantially higher proportion of Catholic than Protestant participants experienced family emigrations from Ireland within the previous three generations, and among all Irish Americans, those with more recent emigrations tended to rate their Irish heritage as more important. About one-third of Protestant participants, but less than 10 percent of Catholic participants, stated that they did not know their ancestors' motivations for emigration. For both groups, the most common motivations were "improved economic opportunities" or "to better one's life"; indeed, 78 percent of Catholics and 36 percent of Protestants so responded. Escaping the potato famine was explicitly identified by 29 percent of Catholics and 8 percent of Protestants. Other, less frequent, responses included escaping religious persecution, escaping political violence or political instability, schooling, and so on.
In terms of continuing contact with Ireland or Northern Ireland, 36 percent of the Protestants and 74 percent of the Catholics had visited the North or South, with the range from one to forty times. Thirty-three percent of the Protestants and 53 percent of the Catholics received visitors from Ireland or Northern Ireland, 42 percent of the Protestants and 51 percent of the Catholics received mail from Ireland or Northern Ireland, and 25 percent of the Protestants and 35 percent of the Catholics regularly spoke by phone with persons from Ireland or Northern Ireland.
Little difference emerged between Catholics and Protestants on sources of information about Ireland. Clearly, U.S. newspapers, news magazines, and television news provided the primary sources of current information for these Irish Americans. Seventy-eight percent overall identified these as primary or secondary sources. For historical information, over 50 percent turned to family stories or history and political science books on Ireland or Northern Ireland as their primary sources. About one-third considered televised documentaries and movies as their next source of historical information.
Similar to trends in Northern Ireland, the Irish Americans in this study remained active in their faith traditions. (37) Forty percent of the Irish-American participants were affiliated with the Catholic Church, while another 40 percent were affiliated with a Protestant denomination. Fifty percent of all Irish Americans attended church once or more a week; this increased to about 73 percent attending church at least once every month. In both actual attendance at church and stated preference for attending church, Protestants outscored Catholics. Both groups were high in the orthodoxy of their Christian beliefs, (38) although the Protestants were significantly higher. Protestants were also significantly higher in the intrinsic dimension of their faith experience, while there were no differences between Catholics and Protestants on the extrinsic dimension.
Knowledge of Irish political and historical events
Table 1 displays the condensed content of the first set of historical items on the research instrument (i.e., the complete wording for each item is not provided). The content in the left column was presented in simple multiple-choice questions (e.g., "Who recently was elected President of the Republic of Ireland?"). The content in the right column was presented as a declarative statement to which the participants indicated agreement or not (e.g., "During the potato blight and famine, Protestants helped only those Catholics who were willing to renounce their religion and convert."). Irish-American Catholics demonstrated significantly more knowledge than their Protestant counterparts; of a total of sixteen points, the means were 9.6 and 6.7, respectively. (39)
Some additional cross-national findings from the Irish-American, Northern-Irish, and Irish samples were particularly noteworthy given their relationship to social memories. First, past suffering from penal laws is commonly associated with Catholic ethnic history and identity. In all three samples, few realized that Protestants outside the Church of Ireland also faced restrictions, albeit less severe and less rigorously enforced. The subgroup achieving the highest correct score (only about 30 percent) was Northern Irish Protestants. That such ethnic history affects daily life is evident in a rural Presbyterian church in Northern Ireland. In its sanctuary is displayed a plaque commemorating the persecution of a church member centuries ago. Although the persecution was at the hands of the Protestant Church of Ireland, a current member noted that most if not all of his fellow worshipers likely assume that Catholics were the cause of the man's torment. Second, the nineteenth-century potato famine is strongly associated with Catholic ethnic history and identity, as is the related image of Protestants forcing Catholics to convert in order to receive food (i.e., the so-called "souper" experience). That few Protestants behaved in such a manner was either not known or was unclear in the minds of many of the Catholic and Protestant participants alike. Interestingly, this was so in spite of the positive public image with which the Protestant Irish Quakers emerged from the famine period, due to their charitable response to all in need. (40) Sixty percent of Irish-American Catholics recognized this variability among Protestants, compared to minorities in all of the other subgroups, with Northern Irish Catholics the lowest at 17 percent correct. Finally, over 40 percent of Northern Irish Protestants and Catholics and over 50 percent of Irish-American Protestants in this study either denied or were unsure about the presence of Protestant leaders in nationalist causes, a significant finding given the actual histories of both communities.
Table 2 lists twenty-six historical events, which were examined through an open response format. The participants were asked first to indicate all the events for which they had sufficient knowledge to provide descriptions; second, to select the five most important of these events; and, third, to provide rationales for their importance. (41) Only three historical events were acknowledged by 50 percent or more of the participants: the potato famine (69 percent), the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 (58 percent), and St. Patrick's mission to Ireland (52 percent). Marked differences existed between Irish-American Catholic and Protestant participants. For example, 84 percent of Catholics and 53 percent of Protestants were able to describe the importance of at least one historical event, while 76 percent of Catholics but only 31 percent of Protestants were able to describe the importance of five events. From all twenty-six events, the top ten in frequency selected and their rankings were as follows: (1) Potato blight and famine, (2) Good Friday Agreement of 1998, (3) St. Patrick's mission to Ireland, (4.5) Maze Prison hunger strike, (4.5) Partitioning of Northern Ireland, (6) Ireland joining the European Union, (7) Plantation of the North, (8.5) Battle of the Boyne, (8.5) Bloody Sunday of 1972, and (10) the Ceasefire of 1994. (42)
Table 3 displays the condensed content of items used to assess social identities and the corresponding median responses on a scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). (43) A number of clear distinctions emerged between Catholic and Protestant Irish Americans. In general, the Protestant participants were less salient, providing middle values (i.e., neither agreeing nor disagreeing) on four of the ten items. On four other items, the patterns were similar for Protestants and Catholics, although some significant differences in magnitude emerged. Both strongly identified with being "American" and with being of "Irish descent," and neither identified with "militant Republicans" or "militant Loyalists." Clear distinctions between the two groups included Catholics identifying more strongly than Protestants with "Irish American," the "historic Catholic experience," and "Nationalists in Northern Ireland." Conversely, Catholics more strongly did not identify with "British descent," the "historic Protestant experience," or "Unionists in Northern Ireland."
An examination of the wider five-nation study shows that some noteworthy cross-national comparisons emerged as well. Not surprisingly, Catholics from all four of the five nations reporting these data were uniformly high on identifying with the "historic Catholic experience in Ireland." Under "historic Protestant experience in Ireland," Northern-Irish Protestants and Protestant-Irish in England were high; in contrast, Irish-Australian and Irish-American Protestants were low to neutral. Under "Nationalists in Northern Ireland," the strongest stated identity was found among Irish-American Catholics; and, although not evident in Table 3 (median values mask how scores are distributed), the second strongest was among Irish-American Protestants. Of particular note is that both Irish-American samples, Catholic and Protestant, were higher than Northern-Irish Catholics. Finally, under "Unionists in Northern Ireland" Irish-Australian and Irish-American Protestants were low.
Table 4 displays the condensed content of items used to assess political solutions to the conflict in Northern Ireland, and the corresponding median responses from the Irish-American participants. Both Catholics and Protestants agreed that political solutions should occur through constitutional processes, that non-violent activism is appropriate, and that violence has no place in resolving the Northern Ireland conflict. Similar to their responses on social identities, Protestants were less salient than Catholics on their attitudes toward specific political solutions. In contrast, Catholics were strongly against Northern Ireland remaining in the United Kingdom, against both the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland sharing in governing of Northern Ireland, and against Northern Ireland becoming an independent country. Finally, they were strongly in favor of Northern Ireland becoming united with the Republic of Ireland.
Cross-national comparisons of particular note emerged on the scenarios of Northern Ireland remaining within the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland joining the Republic. The strongest opposition to the former came from Irish-Australian and Irish-American Catholics. Similarly, the strongest support for the latter came from these same two subgroups; in fact, in both scenarios the Irish-American and Irish-Australian Catholics felt more strongly than did Northern-Irish Catholics. Interestingly, Irish-American and Irish-Australian Protestants expressed similar views as their Catholic counterparts, although not so extreme in position; and they were quite a contrast to Northern Irish Protestants, who favored Northern Ireland remaining in the United Kingdom and opposed its joining the Republic.
Table 5 displays the condensed content of items used to assess social solutions to the conflict in Northern Ireland and, again, the corresponding median responses from the Irish-American participants. No significant differences were found between Irish-American Catholics and Protestants on these items. Neither group felt strongly for or against Northern-Irish Protestants and Catholics accepting responsibility for the violence perpetrated by members of their own communities. They did not feel strongly for or against either community seeking forgiveness from the other side, nor strongly for or against the cessation of celebrations or commemorations of historical events in which Irish Protestants and Catholics were in conflict with each other. The only items on which both groups of participants expressed clear and favorable opinions were those advocating Northern-Irish Catholics and Protestants learning more about historical events that were particularly important to members of the other community.
Among the great many relationships that can be explored, synthesis of these data will begin by focusing on key social identity findings, and follow by discussing some of the more significant attitudes among the Irish Americans toward various political and social solutions. Not surprisingly, the greater importance participants placed on their Irish heritage and the greater number of times they visited Ireland or Northern Ireland, the greater their political and historical knowledge of Irish history. Neither was it surprising that those with greater knowledge also felt more strongly that Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland should learn more of each other's histories. That those Protestants with more knowledge also tended to identify less as "American" was an interesting and less obvious finding. This may relate to acculturation processes, in which becoming more American attenuates motivations to maintain one's "Irishness," at least among the Protestants, as Leyburn argued in his analysis of the Scotch-Irish Protestants in America. (44) A negative relationship between the importance of Irish heritage and the strength of American identity for Protestants also supported this interpretation. This describes the assimilation mode in Berry's complex model of acculturation (Figure 1). (45)
Arguing that acculturation is not synonymous with assimilation, Berry presents acculturation as an adaptation process designed to decrease conflict between cultural groups. He argues that four modes of acculturation exist, and that they are defined according to two dimensions. The first dimension relates to ethnic distinctiveness, and the second to interethnic contact. The valuing of both a distinct ethnic identity and intergroup contact defines the integration mode of acculturation. Not valuing a distinct ethnic identity while valuing intergroup contact defines the assimilation mode of acculturation. Valuing a distinct ethnic identity and not entering into intergroup interaction defines the separation mode of acculturation. Finally, the loss of ethnic identity coupled with alienation from larger society defines the deculturation mode of acculturation. (46)
Assuming that the "assimilation mode" describes the acculturation for these Irish-American Protestants, it cannot be characterized as a simple process of sloughing off layers of "Irishness" over time, for among these Protestants were also those who identified more strongly as Irish American, and evaluated their Irish heritage as of greater importance. They also identified more strongly with the historic Catholic experience, the nationalist political agenda, and even the more militant republican agenda. These strongly Irish-American Protestants may have had their roots in families that were Catholic back in Ireland but converted to Protestantism after emigration. D.H. Akenson addresses this possibility in discussing the Protestant majority among those claiming Irish roots in the United States; however, he also notes that such changes in religious loyalty were not sufficient to explain fully the Protestant numerical dominance. (47) More recently, Wilson has noted that although "a majority of those acknowledging Irish heritage in the 1990 census were Protestant, their claim does not translate into a network of support for unionism," (48) and in fact in the present study a strong negative correlation existed among the Protestants between identifying with "American" and identifying with "Unionists in Northern Ireland." It may well be that the acculturation process of Irish-American Protestants does translate into support for the nationalism most often associated with Northern-Irish Catholics. The socialization of Americans with or without Irish ancestry contains a set of historical events and associated values, which include revolution leading to independence from colonial powers to individual voice in self-governing. In addition, many of today's Irish American Protestants are the descendants of former Irish Protestants (Scotch-Irish and Anglo-Irish) who quite literally and violently "threw the Brits out" of the colonies in the eighteenth century. In 1784, this lead to the lament in Irish Parliament, "America was lost by Irish emigrants." (49)
Irish-American Catholics strongly affirmed both the Irish and the Irish-American sides of their identity. In addition, the Irish-American Catholics were more active in participating in Irish culture, their families experienced more recent emigrations, they retain more ongoing contact with Ireland or Northern Ireland, they were more knowledgeable about their Irish family history and about historical events in Ireland and Northern Ireland, and they appeared more homogeneous, opinionated, and at times more ideological in their attitudes about Irish historical and political events. The Catholics in this study appeared to be experiencing an integration mode of acculturation--as described by Berry in Figure 1. That is, they valued both a distinct ethnic identity, and involvement in dominant American culture. Their relatively recent past as a socially marginalized ethnic group within the United States, the perception of Britain as a continuing external enemy, and the historically strong identification and influence of the Catholic church among these Irish Americans have undoubtedly helped maintain their ethnic identity.
Both the Irish-American Catholics and Protestants identified more strongly with "Nationalists in Northern Ireland" than did the Northern Irish Catholic participants. Similarly, both expressed opposition to Northern Ireland remaining in the United Kingdom and support for Northern Ireland joining the Republic, with the Irish-American Catholics again stronger in both positions than Northern-Irish Catholic participants. One must wonder if such strong positions reflected social-memory-based, and less complex views of these political outcomes, than the reality-based views of those who live daily in that province. In the social psychology of stereotypes and prejudice, isolation and/or distance permits simple stereotypes to be maintained for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the lack of opportunity to contact either greater complexity or actual counterevidence in direct experience. (50) Social Identity Theory predicts a similar outcome, with the Irish-America diaspora identifying with Ireland and considering Britain to be "the other." (51) A related finding was the endorsement by Irish-American Catholics and Protestants of non-violent activism to further political processes in Northern Ireland. This was in contrast to the rather neutral responses of Protestant and Catholic Irish, Northern Irish, and Irish in England. The Irish-American response likely reflects in part the continuing influence of the U.S. civil rights movement and the contemporary widespread practice of nonviolent action in regard to a multitude of social and political issues across the political ideological spectrum. The reticence of those residing in or much nearer Ireland may well reflect the very recent social memory of both Protestant and Catholic communities about nonviolent protest in Northern Ireland, which resulted in "long-term intensification of violence rather than a peaceful resolution" and the thirty years of The Troubles that followed. (52)
Finally, regarding both Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland taking responsibility for the violence initiated by their own community and seeking forgiveness from the other side, Irish-American Protestants were neutral to slightly positive in their responses, while Irish-American Catholics were slightly negative in theirs. Data from the other four nations were even less encouraging, with the Northern-Irish Catholic and Protestants, in particular, consistently negative in their responses. These findings are in line with other research in Northern Ireland which reveals that forgiveness has not received much positive attention from victims of violence, although remarkable individual exceptions exist. Some equated forgiveness with pardoning and consequently rejected it; others believed that forgetting must accompany forgiveness, and as such it was beyond their reach. Corporate forgiveness was even more difficult to countenance than forgiving an individual. (53) What is clear from these Irish-American data--and from the parallel four-nations data, the Northern-Irish research cited above, and other anecdotal reports from settings of ethnic conflict--is that although corporate forgiveness may well lead to lasting peace, we have not yet found a mechanism to win its corporate acceptance from victim peoples (who see too much to lose) or from perpetrators (who see no need to accept it, because they believe their violent actions were justifiable). In discussing ethnic violence, Ellis has adopted the phrase "revolutionary forgiveness" as part of the process toward justice and reconciliation. (54) Any such forgiveness in Ireland (and Irish America) will require an earlier "revolution"--that is, a revolution in the thinking of all the principals involved.
Scholars have disagreed widely on the nature and persistence of Irish-American ethnic identity. Andrew Greeley argues from the National Opinion Research Center's General Social Survey (a bit of tongue in cheek) that Irish cultural traits continue to survive after at least three generations and that Irish-American Catholics, in particular, are distinct from their fellow Americans. That is, there is something of substance to the Irish-American ethnic identity. (55) In contrast, in his very careful study of Irish Americans in Albany, New York, Byron argues that what is now understood as Irish American is a "creolization" of Irish and American history and popular culture, and that for many later-generation Irish Americans, their ethnicity is virtual, "no longer a lived reality." (56)
Whether their identity as Irish Americans was the result of continuous shared social memories and cultural traits or the result of choosing a symbolic ethnicity, (57) the Catholic and Protestant participants in this study who identified themselves as Irish American did compose a distinct group of people. They considered their Irish heritage important. They sought out information on current affairs in Ireland and Northern Ireland. They possessed significantly more knowledge of Irish politics and history than those claiming no Irish descent. They identified with nationalists in Northern Ireland, and expressed consistent opinions about what were appropriate and inappropriate solutions to the Northern Ireland conflict, with the Catholic participants taking the more adamant positions. The strong nationalist position of the Irish-American Catholics, in particular, provided some indirect support for holding iconic and simplified views on Britain and the future of Northern Ireland. However, there was little evidence that they (or their Protestant counterparts) were maintaining ethnic memories and attitudes that would serve to perpetuate from afar Northern Ireland's Troubles. A next step in this research will be to seek out a more heterogeneous sample of Irish Americans, which includes among its members supporters of a more militant republicanism.
TABLE I POLITICAL AND HISTORICAL KNOWLEDGE: PRIMARY CONTENT OF CLOSED RESPONSE ITEMS MULTIPLE-CHOICE FORMAT DECLARATIVE STATEMENT FORMAT Newly elected President in Ireland's constitutional claims Ireland on Northern Ireland Largest political party in Penal laws restricting civil Northern Ireland rights of Catholics only Proportion Catholic in Protestants and Catholics Northern Ireland both suffering massacres Proportion Protestant in Ireland In famine Protestants only helping Catholics who converted Parliament in Ireland Ireland's declaration of a Republic Former Parliament in Northern Protestant leaders in nationalist Ireland causes Proportion Catholic in Majority of Protestants and Royal Ulster Constabulary Catholics participating in political violence Location of sectarian violence Catholic commemoration on Easter Sunday Protestant commemoration on 12th of July TABLE 2. HISTORICAL EVENTS: CONTENT OF OPEN RESPONSE ITEMS 1. Building of Newgrange 2. St. Patrick's mission to Ireland 3. Brian Boru's High Kingship 4. Flight of the Earls 5. Plantation of the North 6. Battle of the Boyne 7. Enactment of penal laws 8. Rising of 1798 9. Potato blight and famine 10. Home Rule bills 11. Partition 12. Constitution of Eire enacted 13. Ireland's neutrality in WW II 14. Civil rights movement 15. Bloody Sunday 16. Suspension of Stormont 17. Ulster workers' strike 18. Pope's visit in 1979 19. Maze Prison hunger strike 20. Anglo-Irish Agreement, 1985 21. First Woman Pres. of Ireland 22. Cease-fire of 1994 23. Ireland joining the EU 24. Legalized divorce in Ireland 25. "Sieges" at Drumcree 26. Good Friday Agreement, 1998 TABLE 3 SOCIAL IDENTITIES OF IRISH AMERICANS SOCIAL IDENTITY MEDIAN I think of myself as American Catholic: 7.0 Protestant: 7.0 I think of myself as Irish American Catholic: 7.0 Protestant: 5.0 I think of myself as of Irish descent Catholic: 7.0 Protestant: 6.5 I think of myself as of British descent Catholic: 1.0 Protestant: 4.0 I identify with historic Catholic experience Catholic: 7.0 Protestant: 4.0 I identify with historic Protestant experience Catholic: 1.0 Protestant: 4.0 I identify with Nationalists Catholic: 6.0 in Northern Ireland Protestant: 4.5 I identify with Unionists Catholic: 1.0 in Northern Ireland Protestant: 4.0 I identify with militant Republicans Catholic: 2.0 in Northern Ireland Protestant: 1.5 I identify with militant Loyalists Catholic: 1.0 in Northern Ireland Protestant: 1.0 TABLE 4 POLITICAL SOLUTIONS TO CONFLICT IN NORTHERN IRELAND Political Solution Median Political solutions through constitutional Catholic: 6.0 processes only Protestant: 5.0 Non-violent activism to further Catholic: 6.0 political processes Protestant: 5.0 Limited and controlled violence Catholic: 1.0 to further political processes Protestant: 2.0 Northern Ireland remain part Catholic: 1.0 of United Kingdom (UK) Protestant: 3.0 Republic of Ireland and UK share Catholic: 2.0 in governing Northern Ireland Protestant: 3.0 Northern Ireland as part Catholic: 6.0 of the Republic of Ireland Protestant: 5.0 Northern Ireland become Catholic: 2.0 an independent country Protestant: 4.0 TABLE 5 SOCIAL SOLUTIONS TO CONFLICT IN NORTHERN IRELAND SOCIAL SOLUTION MEDIAN Catholics as a group accept Catholic: 2.5 responsibility for violence Protestant: 4.0 Catholics as a group seek Catholic: 3.0 forgiveness from Protestants Protestant: 5.0 Protestants as a group accept Catholic: 3.0 responsibility for violence Protestant: 4.5 Protestants as a group seek Catholic: 3.5 forgiveness from Catholics Protestant: 5.0 Protestants should not celebrate Catholic: 5.0 historical events of conflict Protestant: 4.0 Protestants should learn more Catholic: 6.0 of history important to Catholics Protestant: 6.0 Catholics should not celebrate Catholic: 4.0 historical events of conflict Protestant: 4.0 Catholics should learn more Catholic: 6.0 of history important to Protestants Protestant: 6.0 FIGURE I MODES OF ACCULTURATION Value-distinct ethnic identity and characteristics Yes No Value inter-ethnic Yes Integration Assimilation contact No Separation Deculturation
(1) Paul Connerton, How Societies Remember (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1989).
(2) Joseph V. Montville, "The Healing Function in Political Conflict Resolution," in D.J.D. Sandole and H. van der Merwe, eds., Conflict Resolution Theory and Practice: Integration and Application (Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press, 1993), 112-27.
(3) Mary Burton, "The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Looking Back, Moving Forward--Revisiting Conflicts, Striving for Peace," in Brandon Hamber, ed., Past Imperfect: Dealing with the Past in Northern Ireland and Societies in Transition (Derry/Londonderry: INCORE, 1998), 13-24.
(4) Roberto Cabrera, "Should We Remember? Recovering Historical Memory in Guatemala," in Hamber, ed., Past Imperfect, 25-30.
(5) See, for example, Marc H. Ellis, O, Jerusalem! The Contested Future of the Jewish Covenant (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1999), 139-44; Robert D. Enright, "Piaget on the Moral Development of Forgiveness: Identity or Reciprocity?" Human Development 37 (1994), 78; Alan D. Falconer, "The Reconciling Power of Forgiveness," in Alan D. Falconer, ed., Reconciling Memories (Blackrock, Co. Dublin: Columba Press, 1988), 84-98; and Donald W. Shriver, Jr., "Is There Forgiveness in Politics? Germany, Vietnam, and America," in Robert D. Enright and Joanna North, eds., Exploring Forgiveness (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1998), 131-49.
(6) See Ed Cairns, Forgiveness and the Reduction of Intergroup Conflict in Northern Ireland: A Progress Report (Coleraine: University of Ulster, December 2000); and Brandon Hamber, "A Truth Commission for Northern Ireland?" in Hamber, ed., Past Imperfect, 79-86.
(7) See, for example, John Whyte, Interpreting Northern Ireland (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990) and Brian Walker, Dancing to History's Tune: History, Myth and Politics in Ireland (Belfast: Institute of Irish Studies, 1996). It should be noted that Walker calls into question the continuous nature of such social memories (see 1-14).
(8) See Frank Wright, "Reconciling the Histories of Protestant and Catholic in Northern Ireland," in Falconer, ed., Reconciling Memories, 68-83; and Micheal D. Roe, William Pegg, Kim Hodges, and Rebecca Trimm, "Forgiving the Other Side: Social Identity and Ethnic Memories in Northern Ireland," in John E Harrington and Elizabeth J. Mitchell, eds., Politics and Performance in Contemporary Northern Ireland (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1999), 123-25.
(9) Evanthia Lyons, "Coping with Social Change: Processes of Social Memory in the Reconstruction of Identities," in G.M. Breakwell and Evanthia Lyons, eds., Changing European Identities: Social Psychological Analyses of Social Change (Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 1996), 31-39.
(10) The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) estimated the population of the province to be approximately 1.675 million in 1997.
(11) See Marie-Therese Fay, Mike Morrisey, and Marie Smyth, Northern Ireland's Troubles: The Human Costs (London: Pluto Press, 1999).
(12) The historical roots of Protestant and Catholic ethnic conflicts have been recognized for quite some time. In contrast, social psychological research on historical events and social memory in Northern Ireland is only now emerging. Recent examples include C.F. McKeever, S. Joseph, and J. McCormack, "Memory of Northern Irish Catholics and Protestants for Violent Incidents and Their Explanations for the 1981 Hunger Strike," Psychological Reports 73 (1993), 463-66; Ed Cairns, Christopher Alan Lewis, Ozlem Mumcu, and Neil Waddell, "Memories of Recent Ethnic Conflict and Their Relationship to Social Identity," Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology 4 (1998), 13-22; and Ed Cairns and Christopher Alan Lewis, "Memories for Political Violence and Mental Health," British Journal of Psychology 90 (1999), 25-33.
(13) See, for example, Donald Harman Akenson, The Irish Diaspora: A Primer (Belfast: Institute of Irish Studies, 1993); R.J. Dickson, Ulster Emigration to Colonial America 1718-1775 (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1966); Patrick O'Sullivan, ed., The Irish World Wide. History, Heritage, Identity. Vol. 1. Patterns of Migration (London: Leicester University Press, 1992); and David B. Quinn, Ireland and America: Their Early Associations, 1500-1640 (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1991).
(14) See Michael Hout and Joshua R. Goldstein, "How 4.5 Million Irish Immigrants Became 40 Million Irish Americans: Demographic and Subjective Aspects of the Ethnic Composition of White Americans," American Sociological Review 59 (February 1994), 64-82.
(15) Andrew J. Wilson, Irish America and the Ulster Conflict: 1968-1995 (Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 1995) and "From the Beltway to Belfast: The Clinton Administration, Sinn Fein, and the Northern Ireland Peace Process," New Hibernia Review 1 (1997), 23-39.
(16) Jack Holland, The American Connection: U.S. Guns, Money, and Influence in Northern Ireland (Boulder, Colo.: Roberts Rinehart, 1999); Wilson, Irish America and the Ulster Conflict. For a thought-provoking analysis of U.S. foreign policy and Irish republicans, see Karen McElrath, Unsafe Haven: The United States, the IRA and Political Prisoners (London: Pluto Press, 2000).
(17) Kevin Kenny, The American Irish: A History (New York: Longman, 2000), 246-57; Wilson, Irish America and the Ulster Conflict; Andrew J. Wilson, "The Billy Boys meet Slick Willy: The Ulster Unionist Party and the American dimension to the Northern Ireland Peace Process, 1993-1999," Irish Studies in International Affairs II (2000), 121-36.
(18) See selected bibliography, Kenny, The American Irish, 265-83.
(19) See, for example, Lawrence J. McCaffrey, Textures of Irish America (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1992); Lawrence J. McCaffrey, The Irish Catholic Diaspora in America (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1997).
(20) For example, H. Tyler Blethen and Curtis W. Wood, eds., Ulster and North America: Transatlantic Perspectives on the Scotch-Irish (Tuscaloosa, Ala.: University of Alabama Press, 1997); James G. Leyburn, The Scotch. Irish: A Social History (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1962).
(21) See, for example, Reginald Byron, Irish America (Oxford: Clarendon, 1999); Andrew M. Greeley, The Irish-Americans: The Rise to Money and Power (New York: Harper and Row, 1980.
(22) According to Piaras MacEinri, Director of the Irish Centre for Migration Studies, NUI Cork, no sociological or psychological research has been done on Anglo-Irish-American emigrants. XIII Ulster-American Heritage Symposium, Omagh, 21-24 June 2000.
(23) Hugh Garavan, Michael Doherty, and Aidan Moran, "The Irish Mind Abroad: The Experiences and Attitudes of the Irish Diaspora," Irish Journal of Psychology 15 (1994), 303-4.
(24) Garavan, Doherty, and Moran, "The Irish Mind Abroad," 300.
(25) S.J. Field, "Becoming Irish: Personal Identity Construction among First-Generation Irish Immigrants," Symbolic Interaction 17 (1994), 431-52.
(26) Field, "Becoming Irish," 446.
(27) Michael Curran, "Ghettoized or Going Native: The Irish Diaspora Project in Britain" (paper presented at the 37th Annual Conference of the American Conference for Irish Studies, Roanoke, Virginia, May (1999).
(28) Liam Greenslade, "`The Blackbird Calls in Grief': Colonialism, Health, and Identity among Irish Immigrants in Britain," in Jim Mac Laughlin, ed., Location and Dislocation in Contemporary Irish Society: Emigration and Irish Identities (South Bend, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1997).
(29) See, for example, Mary Hickman, "Binary Opposites or Unique Neighbours? The Irish in Multi-ethnic Britain," Political Quarterly 1 (2000), 50-58; J.J. Walsh and F.P. McGrath, "Identity, Coping Style and Health Behaviour Among First Generation Irish Immigrants in England," Psychology and Health 15 (2000), 467-82.
(30) Four of the five teams came together to present their findings in international symposia--first in 1998 at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in San Francisco and again in 2000 at the annual meeting of the American Conference for Irish Studies in Limerick. For example, Eve Binks and Neil Ferguson, "The Irish in England: Catholic and Protestant Religiosity and Social Memories, and the Troubles in Northern Ireland," in Micheal D. Roe, chair, "The Irish Diaspora: Catholic and Protestant Religiosity, Social Memories, and the Troubles in Northern Ireland" (symposium conducted at the 38th Annual Meeting of the American Conference for Irish Studies, University of Limerick, June 2000); Di Bretherton, Amanda Melville, and David Mellor, "Social Memories, Irish Australia, and Political Violence in Northern Ireland"; Christopher A. Lewis and Ed Cairns, "Ethnic Memories and Contested Issues in a Contested Society: Northern Ireland"; Micheal D. Roe, Jennifer Bennett, and Jason Lenius, "Social Memories, Irish America, and Political Violence in Northern Ireland"; Jean Whyte, "`The Troubles' in Northern Ireland and Social Memories in the South," all in Micheal D. Roe, chair, "Ethnic Memories, the Irish Diaspora, and Political Violence in Northern Ireland: A Four Nation Study" (symposium conducted at the 106th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, San Francisco, August 1998). All five teams will publish their findings in a special issue of the Irish Journal of Psychology.
(31) For a detailed description of the methods and the statistical analyses, see Micheal D. Roe, Jason Lenius, and Jennifer C. Bennett, "Irish Diaspora in America: Attitudes Toward Political and Social Solutions to the Conflict in Northern Ireland," Irish Journal of Psychology (in press).
(32) Clearly this network sampling technique does not provide a representative sample of all who claim Irish descent living in the U.S.; however, it is an appropriate sample for our inquiry of people who identify with Irish America and who have knowledge and attitudes about Northern Ireland.
(33) Data collected from the comparison group did discriminate in predictable manners, and as such provided validation of the research instrument. In general, the social identities of comparison participants were clearly not Irish American nor of Irish descent. These participants knew little to nothing about Irish history. Finally, with the exception of firmly disapproving of violence, these participants did not have strong opinions about the various political solutions to the conflict in Northern Ireland.
(34) Tajfel's Social Identity Theory (SIT) has been broadly applied to intergroup relations in Northern Ireland, and it provided a theoretical foundation for the present study. See H. Tajfel and J.C. Turner, "The Social Identity Theory of Intergroup Behaviour," in S. Worchel and W.G. Austin, eds., Psychology of Intergroup Relations, 2nd ed. (Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1986), 7-24; Ed Cairns, "Intergroup Conflict in Northern Ireland," in H. Tajfel, ed., Social Identity and Intergroup Relations (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 277-97; Ed Cairns, "Social Identity and Intergroup Conflict: A Developmental Perspective," in J. Harbison, ed., Growing up in Northern Ireland (Belfast: Stranmillis, 1989), 115-30; Anthony M. Gallagher, "Social Identity and the Northern Ireland Conflict," Human Relations 42 (1989), 917-35. The dominance of this theoretical perspective has been criticized, and alternative theories are currently being proposed. See Karen Trew, "Social Psychological Research on the Conflict," The Psychologist 15 (1992), 342-44; Karen Trew and D.E. Benson, "Dimensions of Social Identity in Northern Ireland," in Breakwell and Lyons, eds., Changing European Identities; Lyons, "Coping with Social Change."
(35) Falconer's model was applied here. He posited three actions leading to reconciliation: accepting responsibility for past action of one's own community; seeking forgiveness from the other community; and appropriating the history of the other community. See Falconer, Reconciling Memories.
(36) Individuals with extrinsic orientations tend to perceive religion in utilitarian terms, while individuals with intrinsic orientations internalize the beliefs and values of their religion. "The extrinsically motivated individual uses his religion, whereas the intrinsically motivated lives his." Gordon Allport and J. Ross, "Personal Orientation and Prejudice," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 5 (1967), 434.
(37) In Northern Ireland, attendance and membership in churches have remained relatively high as compared to the rest of the United Kingdom or Western Europe, although a secular trend toward decreasing churchgoing is also evident. In the 1991 census, 89 percent identified themselves as belonging to a specific Christian denomination, with 38.4 percent declaring to be Roman Catholic and 50.6 percent declaring membership in one of a number of Protestant churches. In addition to attendance rates, Boal, Keane, and Livingstone have noted a "remarkably high level of commitment to the classical doctrines of the church" among Belfast Protestant and Catholic churchgoers. Frederick W. Boal, Margaret C. Keane, and David N. Livingstone, Them and Us? Attitudinal Variation Among Churchgoers in Belfast (Belfast: Institute of Irish Studies, 1997), 146; Duncan Morrow, "Church and Religion in the Ulster Crisis," in Seamus Dunn, ed., Facets of the Conflict in Northern Ireland (London: Macmillan, 1995), 151-67; and Norman Richardson, "Mixed Blessings: A View of Christian Practice in Northern Ireland," in Norman Richardson, ed., A Tapestry of Beliefs: Christian Traditions in Northern Ireland (Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 1998), 1-19.
(38) The orthodoxy scale assessed levels of agreement with statements about foundational Christian beliefs regarding salvation, eternal life, the role of Jesus Christ, the Bible, and so on.
(39) The item focusing on the Republic's constitutional claim to the North was dropped, since the relevant articles in Ireland's constitution were changed by popular referendum while data were still being collected.
(40) For example, see Maurice J. Wigham, The Irish Quakers: A Short History of the Religious Society of Friends in Ireland (Dublin: Historical Committee of the Religious Society of Friends in Ireland, 1992), 84-88.
(41) This was an adaptation of an open interview technique utilized in H. Schuman and J. Scott, "Generations and Collective Memories," American Sociological Review 54 (1989), 359-81.
(42) For a complete content analysis of these historical items, see Micheal D. Roe and Jason Lenius, "History, Catholic and Protestant Social Memories, and Irish America" (paper-presented at the 37th Annual Meeting of the American Conference for Irish Studies, Roanoke, Virginia, May 1999).
(43) Not all statistically significant differences will be discernible from these median values.
(44) Leyburn, The Scotch-Irish, 317-25.
(45) See, for example, John W. Berry, "Immigration, Acculturation, and Adaptation," Applied Psychology: An International Review 46 (1997), 5-68.
(46) Clearly the most influential acculturation theorist of the past twenty-five years, Berry is not without his critics. Ward, for example, argues that the two independent dimensions of psychological acculturation and sociocultural adjustment are at least as important as Berry's four modes of acculturation in predicting adaptation outcomes. Colleen Ward and Arzu Rana-Deuba, "Acculturation and Adaptation Revisited," Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 30 (1999), 422-42.
(47) D.H. Akenson, "The Historiography of the Irish in the United States," in Patrick O'Sullivan, ed., The Irish World Wide. History, Heritage, Identity. Vol. II. The Irish in the New Communities (London: Leicester University Press, 1992), 99-127; and Akenson, The Irish Diaspora.
(48) Wilson, "The Billy Boys Meet Slick Willy."
(49) Dickson, Ulster Emigration to Colonial America, ix. See also E.R.R. Green, Essays in Scotch-Irish History (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969). Additional support for this acculturation/socialization process toward nationalist ideals can be found outside Irish America as well. A recent Gallup poll of U.S. adults found that 50 percent favored reuniting Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland. Only 17 percent preferred to see Northern Ireland remain part of the United Kingdom. When asked with whom they sympathized in the conflict, 30 percent named the Catholics and 16 percent the Protestants. The remainder stated both or neither or did not give an opinion. The poll had a margin of error of approximately plus or minus 4 percentage points. Reuters, Washington, D.C., 24 July 1998.
(50) For example, see Elliot Aronson, The Social Animal, 7th ed. (New York: W.H. Freeman, 1995), 295-353.
(51) Cairns, "Social Identity and Intergroup Conflict."
(52) Kenny, The American Irish, 247.
(53) Cairns, Forgiveness and the Reduction of Intergroup Conflict in Northern Ireland; Frances McLernon, Ed Cairns, Christopher Alan Lewis, and Miles Hewstone, "Memories of Recent Conflict and Forgiveness in Northern Ireland," in Ed Cairns and Micheal D. Roe, eds., Memories in Conflict (London: Palgrave, in press); and Roe, et al., "Forgiving the Other Side."
(54) Ellis, O, Jerusalem!, 142.
(55) Andrew M. Greeley, "The Success and Assimilation of Irish Protestants and Irish Catholics in the United States," Sociology and Social Research 72 (1988), 233.
(56) Byron, Irish America, 296-98.
(57) See Mary C. Waters, Ethnic Options: Choosing Identities in America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990).…
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Publication information: Article title: Contemporary Catholic and Protestant Irish America: Social Identities, Forgiveness, and Attitudes toward the Troubles. Contributors: Roe, Micheal D. - Author. Journal title: Eire-Ireland: a Journal of Irish Studies. Publication date: Spring-Summer 2002. Page number: 153+. © Not available. COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group.