Additionally, Dr Ó Murchadha argues that the prevalence of providentialism – the belief among the British government that the Famine was an opportunity to reform Ireland – is essential to accounting for the Famine and, controversially, he believes Britain may have been guilty of genocide.
“If you’re taking about a Jewish-style holocaust, a deliberate attempt such as by the Nazis to annihilate an entire people, then it’s not that kind of genocide,” he explains. “But there is a case for asking if the British deliberately used the Famine to thin out the ranks of the Irish by allowing mass death and emigration after 1847. Of course, it was never admitted at the time so it can’t be proven. But the question is certainly valid.”
The Great Famine: Ireland’s Agony 1845 – 52 is published by Continuum and is available on Amazon.