Celtic Justice

        "For any displeasure, that they apprehend to be done unto them by their neighbours, they take up a plain field against him, and (without respect to God, King, or commonweal) bang it out bravely, he and all his kin, against him and all his."
—King James VI of Scotland, Basilikon Doron

In the summer of 1997, Ulster Unionist Kenneth Magennis called Sinn Fein leader Martin McGuiness the "Godfather of Godfathers" of the Irish Republican Army. He went on to castigate the IRA for refusing to disarm its members as a prelude to yet another Anglo-Irish "peace conference." The thoroughly anglicized Mr. Magennis apparently fails to grasp that the Celtic Irish (and Scots and Welsh) historically have preferred to trust arms over words when it comes to dealing with the British (or English) government, and such trust has not been misplaced.

Justice administered by private associations, whether a medieval Scottish clan or the Irish Republican Army, is a longstanding tradition in the Celtic world. The monopolization of the means of force by government has been seen as a prelude to the extinction of tradition and freedom; thus, any attempt by a central authority (such as England) to impose a system of justice from the top down usually brought on violent action from below. Like the Anglo-Saxons, as David Hume told us, the Celts realized that the true foundation...

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