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Irish Troubles Political Cartoons: An Analysis

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Published: Mon, 05 Feb 2018

The political cartoons about the Irish troubles drawn by a number of prominent cartoonists in the early 1970s differed sharply from the cartoons produced by artists during the peace process in the 1990s. Arguably this could be down to a number of factors. Firstly, cartoonists in the 1970s were much more likely to attack specific groups of people – the Irish themselves have been targets of British supremacist derision for several hundred years, and have been depicted in a derogatory light in cartoons since cartoons were first printed.

Second, the situation was considerably more grave in the 1970s than it was in the 1990s – although the IRA were still established and effective in the 1990s, the 1970s saw the most bloodshed, and therefore, it must have been very difficult to perceive what was a complex and (to some) ridiculous situation in Ireland without knocking the Irish for propagating and sustaining this idea of religious sectarianism. The complex political situation in Ireland that had arisen as a result of four hundred years of religious complexity between the dominant British Protestant landowners, who held the political reins, and the oppressed Irish Catholics, ultimately had a great impact on the British interpretation of the Irish throughout the generations, and also upon the representation of the English in Irish journalistic literature and art.

Thus, a particular view of the Irish came to be represented in the British media, which tended to emerge whenever there were specific troubles within Ireland or else among the Irish in Britain. These stereotypes, especially of the Irish, can be said to be at their most potent during the time of the political troubles in Ireland. The resultant swathe of political cartoons that were printed on a regular basis in the daily newspapers in both Ireland and Britain, particularly during the political unrest and violence of the early 1970s, tended to push the Irish into a subcategory of their own, denied of their identity as autonomous individuals, subjected and represented by a more dominant political force, namely, the English.

The history of the cartoon in respect of this tradition of Irish caricaturing is interesting, as it reveals a rich history of treating the Irishman as a figure of derision and ridicule – however, it is more interesting to note that this figure changed throughout the years and, especially with the increase of militancy among the grass-roots of Irish working class communities, saw the emergence of the cartoon depiction of the Irishman as a simian, bestial, uncivilised caricature, often wielding knifes and other implements, and driven by a fervid passion to kill, much like zombies from a horror film.

The history of political cartoons goes back to the eighteenth century. However, technological developments in photography changed the nature of cartoons at the turn of the century, in many ways shaping the type of cartoon we see in newspapers nowadays: Fitzgerald, in Art and Politics (1973) argues that: “[The photograph] simply replicated the surface structure of life; it did not normally give it a ‘depth’ of interpretation or meaning.” Thus, the photograph didn’t entirely remove the need for the political cartoon, and in a sense, established the medium of the cartoon as a more biting representation of political and social malaises: “The political cartoon on the other hand sought to disrupt daily life, to make jokes and stage whispers and asides at the process if everyday life. […] The political cartoon was by its nature more subversive [than the photograph].”

So, the nature of the political cartoon is to satirize and to comment upon, using visual imagery and caricature, the complexities of the cartoonist’s imagination / ideological persuasions. The effect of satirising political situations, and the placing of topical events into the medium of the cartoon, at least according to the cartoonists themselves, is largely arbitrary in its effect on the population: “Measuring the extent of the cartoonist’s influence on public opinion is a much more difficult, if not impossible task. […] Many cartoonists are […] dubious about its power.” Conversely, however, governments have always stepped in to control the production and the distribution of subversive cartoons.

This suggests that they do possess a certain amount of impact when discussing or lampooning political leaders and people of significance: “French caricaturists of the 1830s who dared mock King Louis Philippe were fined and imprisoned; New York cartoonists’ criticisms of municipal corruption prompted government officials to attempt to pass an anti-cartoon law in 1897; and even in the modern era, when political cartoonists are prizes rather than prison sentences, satirists in totalitarian states have suffered harsh censure.”

Indeed, some of the more subversive work of cartoonists have frequently stirred up controversy, especially concerning the representation of the Irish in British cartoons. In “The Irish”, by cartoonist for the Evening Standard, JAK, the representation of the Irish caused controversy that, with Ken Livingstone’s recent “Nazi” comments about the Evening Standard, continues to plague the political scene today: “…none can excuse the fact that [‘The Irish’] represents one of the most appalling examples of anti-Irish cartoon racism since the Victorian era. […] As a result of complaints made by many people in Britain, the Greater London Council, under its leader Ken Livingstone, withdrew its advertising from the Standard and demanded a full apology, which was refused.”

The cartoon itself equates the Irish with death and barbarism, with the words: “The Ultimate in Psychopathic Horror: The Irish”. Although angered by the IRA bombings and the killing of innocents, this inability to describe the political complexities of the Irish, reducing them instead to a monstrous racial stereotype, not altogether unique in the cartoons of the time, tends to simplify, and thus promote Irish resentment during the period. However, in the second period I will be discussing in this piece, namely the late 1990s, the cartoons drawn by people like Martyn Turner during the peace process of the John Major and Tony Blair governments differ wildly from this tendency to demonise and / or denigrate the entire nation of Ireland – instead the cartoonists eye is drawn to subversive representations of the bureaucracy and the players within that complex and impenetrable political chess game that the Irish peace process became in the eyes of the public.

The cartoons drawn, generally, seem less provoked by Irish or British resentment, and more represent a more benign form of political satire, that being the politics of government rather than the (sometimes militaristic) persuasions of the Irish population. The crude and hurtful Irish stereotype as barbaric, brutish and stupid are discarded – instead, the governmental players are the main focus for the satirists eye.

There was a period in the early 1970s when an impending civil war in Ireland seemed inevitable, with clashes between British paramilitary and Loyalist groups in a state of near-war. “A number of paramilitary organisations were formed in Protestant working-class areas to counter-balance the activities of the Provisionals and carry out attacks on Catholic areas. As the IRA increased its campaign of shootings and bombings, 1972 became the most violent year of the Troubles with 467 deaths in Northern Ireland, 321 of which were civilian casualties.”

The work of the cartoonists of the period assumed a similarly grave and polemical nature, as often the caricaturists and the cartoonists of the period would be divided between Catholic / Protestant, as well as down British / Irish lines. The problems with British intervention as “peacekeepers” culminated in the “Bloody Sunday” massacre of 30 January 1972, where British troops opened fire on unarmed catholic protesters: “It was in January 1972 that the British Army shot and killed thirteen civilians in Derry, writing another disaster into Anglo-Irish history. ‘Bloody Sunday’, as it was called, was commemorated twenty years later in 1992 with bitterness and anger.”

The representation of the British paramilitary presence in Ireland divided cartoonists, and the culmination of the supposed folly of British intervention in Northern Ireland reached boiling point with Bloody Sunday. Thus, politics and ideology in 1970s reached such a stage that generalisation and ignorance about the Irish situation abounded, signalling a return to the grotesque caricaturing seen in Punch in Victorian times. The political complexities, difficult as they were to sum up in a simple argument, were thus heavily simplified by a number of British cartoonists, and this gross simplification often led to the demonisation of the Irish as a whole. This is demonstrated by both the cartoons of Cummings and in the highly controversial cartoon, “The Irish”, printed in the Evening Standard, in which all Irish citizens are tarred with the same brush.

Again this differs greatly from the work of Martyn Turner, who I will focus on in greater depth; his cartoons are steeped in the complexities of the Irish situation, the bureaucratic and political turmoil of the Irish peace process in the 1990s, and its eventual resolution in a ceasefire. Thus, the body of Martyn Turner’s work in a sense tells us how the political cartoon, especially the market for this particular brand of political cartoon has changed from representing the opinion of the ignorant masses, to enlightening and stimulating an informed few.

Martyn Turner strays away from the traditions of social stereotyping, choosing instead to focus on the political bureaucracy and its many players. His cartoons are effective on a number of distinct levels, and his work is predominantly concerned with satirizing political institutions and their players, rather than making sweeping and hurtful gestures about a whole group of people. Especially from the overtly racist work of the 1970s, we see a resurgence of the Irishman as a simian stereotype, who is either drawn to carnage and violence, or else is too stupid to conduct his own affairs with any degree of control. In Cummings work of the early 1970s, we see the Irish represented as racial stereotypes.

In this dissertation, I will look firstly at the development of this stereotype, how it developed from an idealised representation of Ireland in the 18th century, to the myth of stupid, impulsive, apelike creatures in publications such as Punch in the mid-nineteenth century. From this I will then turn to representations of the Irish (and of the British involvement in Ireland) in the 1970s, looking especially at pieces of work that explicitly and blatantly attack Irish culture, using a stereotype that is both broadly racist, the only effect of which is to emphasise the lack of understanding and the bigotry in which a great swathe of British citizenry lived.

History of Stereotypes in Cartoons

James Gillray (1757-1815) is widely reputed as being the first great British cartoonist. In his work, the notion of the Irish as simian tends to prevail, and they, along with the French, are seen as barbaric, stupid, tokens of “otherness” that one tends to associate with any representation of a minority and / or, a barbaric outsider. In “United Irishmen upon Duty”, printed on 12 June 1798, Gillray attacks the dissident Irishmen: “It depicts the rebel United Irishmen as mere agents of destruction and pillage, without political or moral principles. […] The cartoon is one of several in which Gillray simianises the belligerent Irish.”

Thus, the reduction of the Irish to bestial stereotypes has a long history, that frequently makes a return whenever there is a reason for projecting hatred or condescension onto the Irish nation. In “Paddy on Horseback”, Gillray encapsulates the view of the Irish as stupid. In the picture, the Irishman has unkempt hair and a protruding jaw, however, he still possesses human, rather than simian features: O’Connor suggests that: “The early cartoons from the 18th century are openly racist, portraying the Irish as ignorant peasants – barefoot, ragged and thick.” Indeed, the image of the Irishman as a figure to poke fun at, and to label as the typical “fool” of caricature continues in a rich vein in British cartoons dating from this period.

Slightly later, George Cruikshank uses the Irish to poke fun at. In “The Two Irish Labourers”, which features two Irishmen climbing a ladder and getting mixed up, “George Cruikshank […] illustrates the antiquity of the English view of the Irish as objects of laughter and derision.” This cartoon isn’t political in its persuasion, but merely points out that, traditionally, and as the millions of jokes and put-downs featuring Irishmen in the punchline, the Irish could be used effectively to represent a typical stupid or ignorant person, who gets things mixed up or wrong. Thus, the re-emergence of these traditional Irish representations in the 1970s, when contextualised in a rich history of Irish racism, isn’t particularly surprising.

Punch magazine, published in the 1840s, became widely famous for its derogatory representation of the Irish as silly, warmongering, and ignorant, and signalled another re-emergence of this historical Irish stereotype, this time, and thanks to the scientific identification of racial stereotypes, the Irishman became more linked to representations of the Negro in mass art than to the civilised, aristocratic Brit. Thus, in Harper’s weekly in 1898, the Negro, with protruding jaw, upturned nose and large eyes, according to this very subjective illustration, actually equates the perception of the Irishman with the perception of the Negro. By contrast, the profile of an “Anglo-Teutonic” appears in the centre, and, with long nose, strong jawline and fairer hair, appears less simian in appearance.

This representation of the Irishman as a Negro, who is frequently seen as being untrustworthy, rapacious and animalistic in persuasion, is resurrected by a number of cartoonists in the 1970s as an ideal way of explaining, or at least glossing over the complex nature of the Irish situation. In “What was so marvellous…” by Cummings, he represents the current political situation in Ireland as a n exercise in British colonialism. Edward Heath and, then Home Secretary Reginald Maudling sit at a desk with a soldier on top of a map of Ireland. In the background, a soldier is seen walking through India, Cyprus, Kenya and Malaya.

The caption underneath reads: “What was so marvellous about the rest of the British Commonwealth was that we could always leave it.” The superiority with which Cummings regards Britain in relation to Ireland is striking, insofar as it essentially depicts Ireland as a dispossessed, colonized country, and glosses over the significant problems that the presence of British troops in Ireland actually caused. Of course, this view has some historical significance.

The governing elite in Ireland following the invasion in 1690 laid the foundations for a Protestant Ireland for nearly two centuries, and those in charge of Irish affairs were essentially protestants descended from English colonialists, using parliament to enact stifling and repressive legislation against the catholics, which culminated in removing the right for catholics to own land. This of course led up to the potato famine, which killed millions. Thus, the colonialist implications of Cummings’ cartoon flippantly portrays a reality in a fairly hurtful and bitter way.

In Apes and Angels, an overview of how the caricature developed in British cartooning, Curtis Jr. suggests that: “During the first two-thirds of the nineteenth century the stereotypical Paddy or Teague of English cartoon and caricature underwent a significant change. In sharp contrast to the regular, even handsome features of the ‘wild Irishman’ or woodkern of the Elizabethan and early Stuart period, such as may be found in abundance in John Derricke’s The Image of Irelande, with a discoverie of Woodkarne, first published in 1581, and different too, from the brutish, slovenly faces of Irish peasants appearing in prints dating from the reign of George III, the dominant Victorian stereotype of Paddy looked far more like an ape than a man.”

This reduction of the Irishman to animal is one that begins to return sporadically when the political situation gets grave once again in the 1970s. In these cartoons, often the complexity of the political situation is whitewashed, or else no attempt whatsoever is made to describe the Irish problem in terms of satire or a representation of different sectors of Irish society: conveniently, the Irish are placed into one single melting-pot, with no distinction or difference made between Catholicism, Protestantism, or of any of the different groups or classes that were at play in the turmoil that led up to bloody Sunday. Curtis Jr. suggests that the sudden stereotyping of the Irish may have been as a result of politics of a different type – namely, immigration:

“There was nothing specifically Irish about a projecting lower jaw until the 1840s, when thousands of Irish immigrants were pouring into England and Scotland, most of them destitute and many of them diseased.” So, much like modern views and prejudices surrounding asylum seekers, as well as Jews in the 1930s, the right-wing presses also found their target in Victorian times, namely, the Irish. This introduction of class into the issue adds another level of complexity to the issue. Often, the fighting Irishmen are seen crammed together into terrace houses, itself a sign of working-class life and a form of living regarded by the more middle-class newspapers as being inherently intolerable, just as their barbarity was regarded as stupid, brash and ignorant in Victorian issues of Punch. Thus, Curtis Jr., says that “The antecedents of this stereotype were just as widespread as the conviction in England and Scotland that the Irish were inherently inferior and quite unfit to manage their own affairs.”

Indeed, the superimposition of ideas onto the Irish is in itself exacerbated by the caricaturing of the entirity of the Irish race, essentially robbing them of the individuality of their own voices and subsequently their own autonomy. Punch magazine spearheaded a movement to caricature and derogate the Irish in cartoons: “…it soon became clear that Irishmen, in particular the more politicized among then, were the favourite target of both writers and cartoonists. Marion H. Spielmann, the chronicler of Punch, wrote that the comic weekly acquired a reputation for being anti-Irish during and after the 1850s.” An example of this anti-Irish sentiment can be found in John Leech’s “Young Ireland in Business for Himself” (August 22, 1846), in which a grotesque monster sells blunderbuss’s next to the sign “pretty little pistols for pretty little children.”

Thus, we are given the preconception that the Irish are violent, stupid and ugly. In John Tenniel’s “The Irish Frankenstein”, a sophisticated, British man tries to stave off a giant beast holding a bloodied knife. Thus, the bestial, simian qualities of the caricature emerge. This is especially pointed when the Irishman begins to demand autonomy: “When Irishman turned to political agitation and began to demand an end to British rule, then Punch changed his tune, and, according to Spielmann, the artists began to ‘picture the Irish political outrage-mongering peasant as a cross between a garrotter and a gorilla.’” Thus, perhaps the simionisation of the Irish stereotype is more as a result of the politicisation of the Irish working-class, which presumably the British cartoonist, especially one working for Punch, a deeply conservative publication, would feel threatened by. Thus, we have to also consider notions of class, as well as racial stereotyping: “The only Celt to be flattered and admired by Punch’s cartoonists was ‘Hibernia,’ the intensely feminine symbol of Ireland, whose haunting beauty conveyed some of the sufferings of the Irish people.

In The Fenian-Pest, published in Punch on March 3, 1866, Hibernia turns to her sister, Brittania as a grotesque, derogatory rendition of an Irishman peers at her with animalistic desire. Wallach suggests that: “Tenniel, depicts the rebellious Irishmen, those ‘troublesome people,’ as ape-like and unkempt. The main Irish character glares menacingly at Britannia, with his mouth agape and a sword-like weapon partially concealed under his coat. Behind him are other Fenians, chaotically amassed and presumably anxious to make trouble. Here the stereotype of Irishmen as violent, simian and disorganized reveals itself.” Indeed it is interesting the Hibernia, the only character that is celebrated in Punch, or at least not attacked on grounds of racial profiling, is one that is divorced from the traditionally masculine realm of political persuasion. In this particular cartoon, she is seen in the pose of desperately running from the Irish monster, and this traditional of derogation of the Irishman, especially the politicised Irishman, continues throughout history, making a controversial reappearance during the political conflicts of the 1970s.

Cummings, who drew cartoons in the 1970s for the Daily Express, uses similar prejudices to generate humour in a situation regarded by the British as increasingly confused. In “We’re pagan missionaries…”, Cummings depicts a group of pagans, coming over the sea and saving the Irish from their imminent self-destruction. The caption at the bottom reads: “We’re Pagan missionaries come to try and make peace among the bloodthirsty Christians.”

The Irishmen are shown crammed together, on the opposite sides of a terrace block, and details include a lop-sided dustbin, and a sign in the middle of the street, reading: “Cage: To keep the wild animals apart.” Again we return to the generally held perception of Irishmen as a race of sub-human animals: “The Cummings cartoon reflects this British incomprehension in its depiction of primitive tribesmen arriving to reconcile the barbarous Irish, who seem intent on tearing each other apart. The racist implication is that black, presumably African, tribesmen are more civilised than the Christian Northern Irish, who have now slipped below even primitive pagans in their innate barbarity.” Thus, Cummings seems to extract his political humour mainly from the use of stereotype and conceptions of otherness.

The British army is seen ironically as a pagan tribe, which obviously alludes to the primitive tribes that the Britishers colonised in the past. Therefore, the Irish are depicted as being even more primitive than this. Cummings’ cartoon ideas are steeped in the long tradition of pompous anti-Irish cartoons and jokes. “The cartoon […] reinforces stereotypical notions of the Irish as violent and blacks as primitive, and makes no attempt to convey any understanding of the underlying causes of conflict other than religious bigotry.” This is a reflection of a commonly held view about the political situation in Ireland. It seemed baffling to some of the British that two essentially Christian religions should be fighting, and the cartoons by Cummings highlights this innate superiority that the British has by portraying itself as heroes in trying to resolve the Irish conflict. Similarly, Cummings sides again with the British army in “How Marvellous it would be…”, printed in the Daily Express, on 12 August 1970.

Cummings naively treats the British influence in Ireland as completely benign. A beaten up solider stands between two monsters, one of which is wearing a t-shirt called “Ulster Catholics”, the other called “Ulster Protestants”. They run for each other, as the soldier, more diminutive in presence and, in case we didn’t know his nationality, sports a Union Jack on his forehead. Over his head towers a plethora of miscellany – socks, broken bottles and rocks – again, the two warring factions are apelike, bestial and violent in nature. The caption underneath reads “How marvellous it would be if they DID knock each other insensible!”. Thus, the patronising and condescending nature of the cartoon asserts itself more. “The implication underlying both cartoons is that the irrational nature of the Irish question can only be explained through some form of racial madness.”

Indeed, the racial implications, coupled with the inability, or reluctance to try and articulate and represent the complexities of the Irish situation in an easily digestible format, assists in depriving Ireland of a voice – of seeing Ireland and the Irish as a colonised island, once more exacerbating catholic (and protestant – the shifting of parliament to Westminster had the effect of causing offence to both Unionists and building support in working class catholic areas for the I.R.A.) tensions; furthermore adding support to the notion that Britain was indeed an occupying force in Ireland, and that the only means from which the British could be removed from Ireland was through paramilitary force.

Cummings later said that the IRA’s violence “make them look like apes – though that’s rather hard luck on the apes.” Of course, Cummings views on the IRA, their uses of violence and barbarism would never be particularly popular, but Cummings doesn’t even try to consider their opinions, and lowers himself instead to racial stereotyping and bigotry.

The cartoon by Cummings is rendered especially naïve by the events of ‘Bloody Sunday’. Of course, this stereotype has been resurrected many times since the 18th century, but, during Victorian times something in particular happened to the representation of the Irishman. According to Douglas, R., et al.: “The equation between militant Irish nationalism and a savage bestial nature achieved its apogee […] in the Punch cartoons of the Victorian era.” And this bestial nature was resurrected whenever war or conflict required an easily categorised and common enemy.

Certainly the most politically controversial cartoon drawn during the Anglo-Irish conflict was “The Irish” by JAK, for the Evening Standard on 29 October 1982. In it, a bystander is seen looking at an enormous billboard poster. It says: “Emerald Isle snuff movies present the ultimate in psychopathic horror”, then in enormous letters underneath, “The Irish”. The image seems designed to both shock and to reinforce the traditional stereotype of the Irish as bestial and bloodthirsty. A horde of Irish stereotypes, bloated and bestial, wielding daggers, drills, dynamite, saws and other crude forms of weaponry all fight in a orgiastic frenzy over a hill of graves. The caption underneath on the poster says: “Featuring the I.R.A., I.N.L.A., U.D.F., P.F.F., U.D.A., etc. etc.”.

Thus, every political group of every political persuasion is placed under the same violent and caricatured image of Irish barbarity. It is apparent that the cartoon would be controversial. “’The Irish’, featuring a cast of degenerate nationalist and loyalist paramilitaries, whose initials appear at the bottom of the poster. Not only is there no attempt to explain Irish political complexities or distinguish between different paramilitary groups, the cartoonist irresponsibly homogenises the Irish as a race of psychopathic monsters who delight in violence and bloodshed.” The political reaction to this cartoon had far-reaching implications, and the Evening Standard had advertising money cut from London Council, then headed by Ken Livingstone, if a full apology wasn’t issued, which wasn’t.

It is apparent that the power of the cartoon to shock and to provoke resonates profoundly through political circles, certainly as regards the more overtly racist images of Irish paramilitary groups, that depict an Irish nation that is both stupid, confused, poor and drawn genetically to acts of barbarity and violence. “One notable feature of some British cartoons about the troubles is their tendency to resurrect the simian stereotype to present a view of republican and loyalist paramilitaries as sub-human psychopaths, a feature which merely served to perpetuate British ignorance and misunderstanding of the complex nature of the conflict.”

Indeed, ignorance of the complexities of the political situation in Ireland, indeed, an absolute denial of the British influence and the disruption in Ireland, led to strengthening the anti-Irish fervour, and many cartoonists that used this idea for a cheap joke, may have done unnecessary harm to the establishment of peace among Loyalists, and the Irish in general already racked with anti-British tension. Although the cartoon cannot be justified entirely, it can certainly be contextualised by the political situation at the time the cartoon appeared:

“[The Irish] appeared at a time when paramilitary violence showed no sign of abating and when Anglo-Irish relations were still strained as a result of the southern government’s ‘neutral’ attitude towards Britain during the Falklands war. In July, two IRA bombs in London had killed eight people and injured over fifty others.”

Indeed, it is interesting that, when political and social situations are most strained, the simian stereotype re-emerges in cartoons. Overall, the simianisation of the Irish in cartoons has had a long historical legacy that dates back as far as the history of the political cartoon itself. In a situation of conflict, especially considering the supposed lack of knowledge surrounding the Irish situation in the 1970s, many of the cartoons represent this tendency towards returning to the historical stereotype of the Irish as bestial, monstrous sub-human, whose thirst for blood remains intrinsically linked to the racial characteristics of the people.

The representation of the British presence in Ireland, especially with the work of Cummings, and JAK, is seen in turns as a fruitless endeavour designed to bring peace to a nation that stubbornly clings to the historical notion of religious difference, or else are innately drawn to barbarity. Although these were not the only cartoons represented at the time, and there were some more sympathetic representations of the Irish situation, that tried to explain in pictures and simple captions the complexity of a political situation in Ireland, this return to the overtly, explicitly racist was definitely a theme in the 1970s cartoons, and served either to reflect the general confusion prevalent at the time concerning the troubles in Ireland, or else exacerbated this confounded hostility towards the Irish in general that certain sections of the British population must have felt.

Political Representations of the 1970s Crisis in Ireland

The Irish representations of the conflict differ insofar as they offer the viewer of the cartoon a more balanced, albeit anti-British view of the political conflict during the crisis. Gerald Scarfe provides a more sensitive body of work than what was usual in the British press during the time of the political troubles in Ireland. In “Untitled”, printed in the Sunday Times on 14 March 1971, blood runs into a lake from three graves on a hill, there to represent the deaths of three soldiers, two of which were lured into a pub and killed by the provisional I.R.A., the militant arm of the I.R.A. A crack in the dam pours blood onto a peaceful community, and provides another perspective on the Irish troubles in the 1970s that go beyond that of stereotype, confusion and resentment, instead providing a sympathetic and tender view of the events. Indeed, the representation of the political struggles at the time, in cartoons could be both chillingly regressive, and inspired – of course, the Irish conflict polarised opinion, insofar as the lines could be drawn down difference between the British and the Irish, or else Protestant and Catholic fronts.

This tendency to promote one particular view of the events highlights the struggle that cartoonists must have found when trying to find humour beyond the resentment and the anger at both the violence, which some people, especially in Britain, saw as unnecessary, and a particularly


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