JOHN DERBYSHIRE: Biden’s Irish Clown Show Nearly As Disgusting As U.K.’s Continuing Cowardice. (And Remember The Scotch-Irish!)
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[Adapted from the latest Radio Derb, now available exclusively on]

Joe Biden’s trip to Ireland has been a clown show, putting all the ignorance and folly of our elites on plain display.

Come to think of it, I’ll add cruelty to the list. Mumblin’ Joe had a selfie taken with former IRA terrorist leader Gerry Adams, who has the blood of untold numbers of Irish people on his hands. Surviving family members of Adams’ victims must have wept to see Biden’s silly grinning mug in that selfie.

Only a small minority of Adams’ victims were British soldiers or policemen: far more were women, children, and helpless old people. (See my 2009 review of Kevin Myers’ devastating memoir Watching The Door), and if you want to tell me that other terrorist groups, people Adams considered to be his enemies, did things just as beastly, then please tell me why Joe Biden didn’t take a selfie with one of their leaders.

Of course Biden (who himself is actually mostly English) nurses the romantic notion that the term ”Irish American” refers to someone descended from the Famine Ships of the middle nineteenth century, whose distresses were all the fault of the evil Brits. Yes, many Irish Americans were famine refugees; and yes, the famine itself was a dreadful business, although the notion that it was a deliberate act of British policy is a gross and preposterous slander.

The idea that ”Irish Americans” are all Famine Ship descendants is false none the less. I haven’t worked the numbers and I don’t know anyone who has, but given the high fertility rates in the 18th and 19th centuries, at this point it’s probable that most Americans with some Irish ancestry are descended not from Famine Ship survivors of the 1840s and 1850s but from the so-called ”Scotch-Irish” who poured in a century earlier—all through the 18th and early 19th centuries, in fact—from Northern Ireland and the Scottish lowlands.

All of these Scotch-Irish were Protestants. A great many were fleeing famine and religious persecution: famine—a common occurrence in Ireland all through history—was no respecter of denominations, and the Church of England was going through a triumphalist phase, with Presbyterian houses of worship in Northern Ireland being boarded up by the authorities.

(Any time I talk about Ireland and its problems, I feel I should put in a word for the Unionists of Ulster, whose voice isn’t much heard in the USA over all the screeching from Irish nationalists about the Saxon yoke, Oliver Cromwell, and the Black and Tans—which, someone should tell Joe Biden, is not a rugby team [Who were the Black and Tans? Joe Biden makes gaffe in Ireland, by Charlie Duffield, Evening Standard, April 13, 2023]. The Ulstermen are a proud and brave people with a strong sense of ethnic identity. As a key component of the Historic American Nation, they have helped provide the USA with sixteen of our Presidents. The only negative thing I’d say about them is, their songs aren’t half as good as the rebels’. My favorite: “The Protestant Boys,” set to the tune of Lillibullero.)

That’s all real history, of course. Joe Biden doesn’t know any real history. Heck, at this point the poor old fool doesn’t know his arse from his elbow. Even when his mental faculties were intact, though, I doubt he knew anything about Ireland beyond those fuzzy, half-remembered tales about famines and anti-Catholic persecutions.

Joe actually may know something about the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, whose 25th anniversary was the excuse for his junket.

The prime mover of the Agreement was the Clinton administration: former senator George Mitchell chaired the meetings that hammered it out. Mitchell was a Democrat, same as Joe Biden. Their Senate careers overlapped by more than a decade, so I assume they knew each other well.

The Tony Blair Labour government of Britain was happy to go along with whatever Mitchell worked out. They regarded the Irish troubles as a unwanted distraction from their main policy goal, which was to reshape Britain’s demography by unrestrained mass immigration. Ireland? Eh, let the Yanks sort it out.

So Britain and Ireland got the Good Friday Agreement. The people of Ireland, North and South, voted for it in referendums because they were fed up with the violence. Convicted terrorists of both factions, who should have been hanged in batches, were let out of jail. Gerry Adams got a well-paid government job and a chauffeured limousine.

And yes, the last 25 years have been an improvement on what went before.

Now things are starting to wobble, though. Brexit destabilized the situation.

The U.K. left the E.U. in 2020 but the Republic of Ireland remains a member; so now the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic is a border between two very different customs and immigration regimes.

There were two good, legal, fair and conclusive solutions to that.

  1. Build a proper border barrier between North and South Ireland with proper ports of entry for customs and immigration.
  2. Give Northern Ireland its independence. Plenty of independent nations are smaller than Northern Ireland: Jamaica, Montenegro, Lebanon, the Bahamas,… how many d’you want?

The British government is too spineless to impose either option. Instead they are doing what they do best: fussing, dithering, and avoiding hard choices.

The terrorists see their opportunity and the Molotov cocktails are flying again [Petrol bombs thrown at Northern Irish police on eve of Biden visit, Reuters, April 10, 2023].

John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him.) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He has had two books published by com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.

For years he’s been podcasting at Radio Derb, now available at for no charge. His writings are archived at

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