In this manner the tale of the Black Irish is invested with an unknown quantity of sociogonic meaning for those Irish familiar with knowledge of the Book of Invasions, and the XVIth century Spaniards become the second Mil Espane. This international bonding, however, seems to imply the equality of the two nations while, in fact, there actually existed a great disparity -- in Spain's favor. The Spanish Sons of Mil were regarded as the victors and vanquishers of superior status, whereas "the other peoples of Ireland are sharply distinguished from them and implicitly relegated to an inferior status. In this case the myth benefits the Black Irish alone who by its telling are themselves associated with a mythically powerful people -- the Spanish.
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By the second decade of the 20th century, Home Rule, or limited Irish self-government, was on the brink of being conceded due to the agitation of the Irish Parliamentary Party. In response to the campaign for Home Rule which started in the s, unionists, mostly Protestant and largely concentrated in Ulster, had resisted both self-government and independence for Ireland, fearing for their future in an overwhelmingly Catholic country dominated by the Roman Catholic Church. In , unionists led by Edward Carson signed the Ulster Covenant and pledged to resist Home Rule by force if necessary. The outbreak of the First World War in and Ireland's involvement in the war temporarily averted possible civil war in Ireland and delayed the resolution of the question of Irish independence. Home Rule, although passed in the British Parliament with Royal Assent , was suspended for the duration of the war. Many of those who stayed were radical nationalists, among them Irish Republican Brotherhood infiltrators. Their victory was aided by the threat of conscription for First World War service.
Political talk at breakfast; returns to Scotland. Carlyle's journal for are the two following entries: Ireland really is my problem; the breaking point of the huge suppuration which all British and all European society now is. Set down in Ireland, one might at least feel, 'Here is thy problem: In God's name what wilt thou do with it?
Special Category, or political status meant prisoners were treated similarly to prisoners of war; for example, not having to wear prison uniforms or do prison work. Blanket protest and dirty protest On 14 September , newly convicted prisoner Kieran Nugent began the blanket protest , in which IRA and Irish National Liberation Army INLA prisoners refused to wear prison uniform and either went naked or fashioned garments from prison blankets. To mitigate the build-up of flies, they smeared their excrement on the walls of their cells. Many prisoners volunteered to be part of the strike, but a total of seven were selected to match the number of men who signed the Easter Proclamation of the Republic. In a war of nerves between the IRA leadership and the British government, with McKenna lapsing in and out of a coma and on the brink of death, the government appeared to concede the essence of the prisoners' five demands with a thirty-page document detailing a proposed settlement.