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Setting the record straight on analysis of Covenant

Published 23/12/2015

Karin Kane's reading of my letter of December 11 (Writeback, December 21) is confused as well as confusing.

She regards my efforts to explain why unionists, in 1912, thought Home Rule was a conspiracy as an expression of my own political views.

If she looks again at my letter she will find that I pass no opinion of my own on the merits or otherwise of Home Rule.

She cites my opinion that the historian's duty is to understand the minds of those of whom he writes.

But she omits what I went on to say: that to explain is not the same as to justify (thereby she misrepresented what I wrote.)

Karin Kane shares with Liam Kennedy a failure to understand the distinction between objective historical analysis and subjective political polemics.

Having criticised me for (in her view) defending unionist views, she proceeds to attack me for denigrating unionists, because I observed that, in September 1912, leading English Tories were assuring them that the Liberals would back down on Home Rule.

On the contrary, I neither denigrated nor defended them.

I certainly did not describe them as (in her word) "dupes".

Both Karin Kane and Liam Kennedy should refrain from reading into my letters views that are absent from them.

Perhaps they both should try to read my lengthy essay on the background to the Covenant published in a supplement to another Belfast newspaper in September 2012.

They will find there what I (and, I might add, other historians) regard as a sober analysis of the subject without a word either for or against the Covenant, or the philosophy behind it.

CDC ARMSTRONG

Belfast

Belfast Telegraph

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