THE IRISH Famine was an act of British genocide, Tim Pat Coogan has argued.
In his new book, The Famine Plot: England’s Role in Ireland’s Greatest Tragedy, the historian offers a controversial perspective on one of the darkest chapters of Irish history.
In chapter three entitled ‘A Million Deaths of No Use’ he writes: “In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”
The list of acts includes killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group and imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.
Citing Article 2 of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, he comments: “The land of Ireland was dangerously overburdened by the weight of human stock.
“What was needed to avert an inevitable disaster was a humane system of assisted emigration in combination with a sustained effort at reforming the land system, developing fisheries, and building Irish infrastructure such as roads, bridges, harbours, and canals.”
He added: “A comprehensive report on ‘scarcity in Ireland’ was laid before both Houses of Parliament as the effects of the blight began to be felt, detailing the many occasions that relief had had to be administered between 1822 and 1839.
“The various counties mentioned, Cork, Kerry, Galway, Mayo, Sligo, and many others, would all become places of horror during the Famine.”