June 10th, 2020
The Northern Ireland Effect:
The Harland and Wolf Shipyards built the Titanic and the RMS Britannic and was one of the most successful yards in the world. Catholics made up three percent or less of the workforce in the late 60s, though they represented more than a third of the population of Belfast. This socio-economic effect was representative of employment in the private sector in Belfast, a free enterprise system run primarily by the British, by Northern Ireland Protestants, an infrastructure of opportunity and oppression that evolved over hundreds of years.
The Catholics were primarily the descendants of the indigenous Irish population, the Protestants mostly from lowland Scot and English colonists. As each people evolved separately but together in Ireland -- and eventually what became Northern Ireland -- Catholic neighborhoods suffered greater unemployment, less opportunity, and so the dole: then greater poverty, a lesser education; poverty-driven alcohol abuse, violence, crime, rebellion, etc., generation after generation.
Though both people are white, the difference in evolution of the Catholics and Protestants was dramatic.
In America, the evolution of poverty, violence, in black neighborhoods (the descendants of slavery and Jim Crow laws); Hispanic barrios identified by language, color; Native American reservations, where many of the indigenous people of the United States live, contained (after hundreds of years of rebellion and war) in often-isolated poverty-stricken communities, and (by variation) rural whites in formerly coal-driven economies, in often-isolated areas of West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky, suffer from the Northern Ireland effect.
The Northern Ireland Effect wasn’t, isn’t ethnic, racial, generated by a lack of ambition or weak work ethic…
My mother’s paternal family were Protestants from Northern Ireland.
“If success is the, uh, tenth rung on a ladder, ah, whatever it might be, money, social status, what have you, a lot of people start at the first, the lowest rung. But, plenty start higher up, um, at seven, eight, or nine, and so their ascension isn’t really much to brag about. As time goes by the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The, ah, climb gets easier for the former and harder for the latter -- no pun intended.”
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