The Beer Wars (or the Booze Wars depending on the publication) are the collective name for the series of conflicts that currently engulf the island of Ireland. Inside of Ireland, they are known as the Irish Civil War, although not all of the belligerents are interested in a unified Irish state.
The Beer Wars so get their name owing to Ireland's reputation as the worldwide "centre" of beer, as well as the fact that several factions- including some of the main ones- are actually controlled by beer companies. However, the Wars have little to do with beer itself, as they mainly involve the country's various warlords fighting over territory on the island. In fact, the conflicts have no unifying purpose, with each warlord having different goals and ambitions.
According to the human rights organization Global Citizens, Ireland has 10,297 different factions fighting on the island, though estimates vary and no official number exists. No clear-cut dominant faction exists on the island, though a few- the Irish Republican Army (IRA), Eirinn Go Brach (EGB, Eng: "Ireland Forever"), Daoine le Haghaidh Smithwicks (DHS, Eng: "People for Smithwicks"), Guinness Chorparáide (GC, Eng: "Guinness Corporation"), Sheephaven Republic (SHR, Irish: "Poblacht na gCaorach") and Cumhacht O'Neil (CON, Eng: "The Power of O'Neil's")- have established themselves as powerhouses on the island, with the IRA, EGB and SHR even conducting operations abroad.
The war has been bloody, with human rights abuses being documented across the island and at the hands of many different factions, including all the major ones. The Beer Wars are seen as the root cause of Ireland's devastation, as the country's infrastructure have fallen into a deep state of disuse and disrepair, causing millions to flee. The result is a country whose condition has been described as "no better than the worst of the Medieval Ages", as the island's roads are largely unfit for automobiles and it lacks capabilities to provide other modern versions of amenities such as transportation, health care, water sanitation and electricity.
At A Glance
Begun: May 15, 1994 (preliminary riots), August 22, 1994 (actual war).
Spark: The Election Riots over claims of widespread fraud during the Irish general election and public dissatisfaction over the results.
Location: The island of Ireland, though belligerents have conducted operations outside of the island.
Territorial changes: None confirmed, some factions seek unification while others seek to simply carve out territory for themselves. De facto Ireland is split into tens of thousands of small territories, none of which are bigger than a few square miles (or the size of a city neighbourhood).
- Irish Republican Army (estimated strength 15,000, Commander: David Wilton)
- Guinness Chorparáide (estimated strength 12,000, Commander: Edward Guinness)
- Eirinn Go Brach (estimated strength 10,000, Commander: Sinn Fein)
- Cumhacht O'Neil (estimated strength 9,500, Commander: Jenny O'Neil)
- Sheephaven Republic (estimated strength 9,250, Commander: Gordon O'Kenzie)
- Daoine le Haghaidh Smithwicks (estimated strength 9,000, Commander: Carlee Smithwick)
Main article: Irish general election, 1994, History of Ireland
In 1971, following the Treaty of Nairobi, Ireland was split between the United States of America and what was left of the British Empire. It was once entirely a British possession but anti-British sentiment forced American intervention in 1970. Both the U.S. and Britain constantly eyed the other's half which caused constant tensions on the island, dividing the people as a result.
In 1989, World War III broke out and neither America nor Britain could muster the resources to adequately hold on to the island. The Irish saw their chance and revolted, with numerous riots occurring across the island. Unfortunately, though many of the rioters were interested in an independent Irish state, none of them could agree on what such a state would look like, so, soon enough, the rioters began to turn on themselves.
In 1993, following WWIII, Britain reorganized itself as the English Empire which saw a revitalization of their fortunes. The English saw the unrest in Ireland as an opportunity to re-establish control, and on November 1, 1993, England invaded. This time the Irish response was united, and the English- not expecting the response- were driven back. The English Chancellor, John Major, realized his error and extended an olive branch to the Irish, offering to observe elections for the Irish President.
The leaders of the riots, including the Irish Republican Army (Ireland's de facto army at this stage) agreed to the elections, believing they were the fairest way to select a leader for the united island. The election would be for an Irish President, who would oversee the revived Oireachtas (Eng., "Council of Nobles"). The President was to be elected for an eight year term and would have the power to veto Oireachtas votes as well as to remove members or dissolve the body, as well as direct control over the Irish Armed Forces (which would be created at a later date, with the IRA filling the role at the moment) along with other "emergency roles". The Oireachtas would be composed of 20 members to four year terms, five each coming from Ireland's four provinces (Ulster, Leinster, Munster and Connacht). The Oireachtas would be the actual body that proposes and passes legislation, though the President would have the tie-breaker vote (if need be) and could veto any law the Oireachtas passes. The Oireachtas would also serve as "supervisors" of the provinces, as, once in place, they would be responsible for organizing elections for the lower levels of Irish society, such as the counties and municipalities.
1994 general election
Once the election campaign was declared on January 10, 1994, hundreds of candidates declared for the election, including 142 for President. Despite this, it wouldn't take long for two major candidates to emerge for the Irish Presidency- Benjamin Guinness and Cathy O'Neil, CEOs of their namesake beer companies. Though both candidates were decidedly moderate and calculated in their approaches, Guinness, being the head of a global conglomerate, was seen as the more "conservative", pro-business candidate while the baby-faced O'Neil (who was actually one year older than Guinness, at 58) was seen as the "progressive" candidate, with the battle lines drawn accordingly.
Polling throughout the campaign saw the two in a virtual tie throughout, with the provincial elections being projected to split the Oireachtas in half between Guinness' supporters and O'Neil's. This added more importance to the President position, since tie votes in the Oireachtas would be broken by the President. The campaign soon took a nasty turn, as Guinness and O'Neil started to attack each other's characters and used their shortcomings against them. Policy, which had dominated the early part of the campaign, was now an afterthought to the mudslinging that now dominated the campaign.
On May 4, 1994, a recording surfaced that supposedly had O'Neil admit to a date rape while she worked as a saleswoman for her brewery in 1962. The alleged incident occurred in Buffalo that summer, according to the tape, involving her and a male model she claimed to have met on the trip. O'Neil flatly denied the accusation, and later analysis showed the tape was a forgery, but the damage to O'Neil's campaign at this point was already done. Guinness from this point built a huge lead in the polls, one he would not relinquish.
Scholars debate the actual beginnings of the Beer Wars, with opinion divided on whether to include the initial rioting that began during the election campaign or start it when the government actually collapsed on August 22, 1994.
Regardless, government control began to slip in May 1994, starting with the Limerick Limes on May 15. Guinness' surge in the polls had created the "perfect storm" of civil unrest. O'Neil's credibility as a progressive candidate were destroyed by the rape allegation, which caused many of her voters to slide to Guinness' side. However, given the emotionally charged nature of the campaign, it was inevitable that a sub-section of O'Neil's supporters would grow to detest Guinness even more than they already did, creating Ireland's version of the alt-left. The Irish alt-left, like its American counterparts, swore to violence to keep out candidates it deemed "undesirable", such as Guinness, who they claimed would pass too many policies favouring businesses and would do nothing for the working class (which contradicted Guinness' actual policy declarations on many occasions).
The Irish alt-left- led by Eirinn Go Brach- would begin a series of violent attacks aimed at influencing the election results, the first of which were the Limerick Limes. There, the Guinness campaign office was put under siege by the EGB, who vowed to continue holding on to it until Guinness ended his campaign. The Limes went deep into the night before the IRA was called in to break the siege, the two groups clashed into the morning before the siege was finally broken. Two of the ten members of the EGB were killed in the battle, the rest were arrested and charged with sedition.
The EGB would not be deterred by the defeat, emboldened into new rounds of violent attacks and clashes with the IRA. Guinness began to fear for his own safety and the safety of his brewery, so he decided to militarize his security forces. Soon, other businesses and business associations began militarizing their security forces in the face of the EGB threat, as order began to decline across the island.
In England, Major considered sending troops to restore order in Ireland, fearful that the unrest could spread to England itself. Parliament refused to back him, noting that the English had too many issues at home to concern themselves with, and a vote on a motion to send peacekeepers was soundly defeated. Major then referred the motion to the newly-formed Virtue Federation- of which Ireland would become a member of- but, despite support from well within Virtue's ranks, England's status as a Family member meant that its own Parliament had the ability to veto Virtue actions, ensuring the motion's defeat.
The Sheephaven Massacres
Main article: Battle of the Golf Pavillion
On June 29, 1994, a group of EGB forces were massacred by the security forces of Sheephaven Brewery when they encamped outside of Downings town limits. The move was said to be a preemptive strike against the EGB, whom Sheephaven contended was prepared to attack the brewery later that morning.
Boghopper Brewery, Sheephaven's rival brewery located just to the south of Downings in Carrigart, saw Sheephaven's actions as an act of aggression, and sent their security forces to Downings in attempt to seize the town. Just outside Downings at the Rosapenna Golf Pavillion, Boghopper and Sheephaven met in battle, with the two fiercely fighting each other for the better part of two days. Eventually, Gordon O'Kenzie, Sheephaven's Chief of Security, used his superior knowledge of the land to launch an ambush attack on Boghopper, which was enough to cause them to retreat.
Sheephaven was not content, giving chase to the retreating soldiers and attacking them mercilessly. O'Kenzie knew that if he could hold Carrigart it would give him a more defensible position, so he ordered his troops to take the town. Boghopper and Carrigart continued to fight, with the local police assisting Boghopper, but O'Kenzie's superior tactics won through. On July 2, 1994, O'Kenzie turned north and secured the rest of the Rosguill Peninsula before turning south again and securing Stoney Hill, giving Sheephaven control of an area with 5,500 people (counting the employees of the Boghopper and Sheephaven facilities, which numbered 200 each).
Once Rosguill was secure, O'Kenzie gathered his troops and rounded up everyone in the towns of Sheephaven Bay, forcing them to the golf pavillion. He ordered them to pledge allegiance to Sheephaven, and those that refused were murdered. A few of the women were taken to serve as O'Kenzie's concubines, while the rest of the survivors were enslaved. In the aftermath, O'Kenzie declared Rosguill, "territory of the Sheephaven Republic" and declared his independence from the Irish Republic. Though no outside government recognized the declaration, de facto Sheephaven became an independent state, and Sheephaven's success was a sign of things to come for the island, now reeling without central control.
The campaign stretch drive
News of Sheephaven's success sent shockwaves throughout Ireland, and numerous attempts were made by Irish dignitaries to change O'Kenzie's mind. Few actually believed O'Kenzie was serious about his declaration, and, further, O'Kenzie was able to convince the public that Sheephaven was destitute because of "Boghopper's aggression". Supplies- which O'Kenzie used to strengthen his holdings- were sent in from all over Ireland, including military supplies that O'Kenzie would later make use of.
Meanwhile, Guinness' strong lead in the polls remained, but Guinness refused to be complacent. Guinness saw the militarization of other factions on the island and realized that even if he won the election, he may have to use force to seize power. He began creating secret plans with his security staff for the use of force if need be, continuing the discussions as he campaigned. Publicly, he denounced the instability and promised the public that only he knew how to maintain order over the island. Voters continued to put their trust in Guinness, but outside of Ireland, many feared a collapse was inevitable.
Main article: Election Riots (Ireland)
On August 10, 1994, the Irish public went to the polls. Though there were fears that the unrest would suppress voter numbers, official and unofficial results put turnout at 80%, greater than the turnout in England for their election in 1992. As expected, Guinness won with 78.9% of the vote, with his affiliated politicians- whom he referred to as the Guinness Party though they had no official name- sweeping the 20 seats in the Oirechtas.
Though English observers all stated that the results were fair and legitimate, unrest soon followed, with protesters accusing Guinness of "buying" the result. The EGB ramped up its violence in the hours after the election results were finalized, laying assault to Guinness' facilities across the island. Guinness and the EGB fought deep into the night and well into the morning before the EGB were pushed back, but more trouble was brewing.
On August 11, Guinness- with an armed guard- attempted to enter the Oirechtas building and swear himself in as Irish President. He expected the IRA to have his back, but, when he arrived at the Capitol, he found that the IRA had barricaded it and prevented him from entering. The IRA- in a surprising about face from their public proclamations during the campaign- claimed that Guinness was an "English puppet" because the vote was monitored by the English. The EGB furthered the claim, noting Guinness' extensive operations within the English Empire, questioning Guinness' commitment to the island. The dockworkers near Wexford threw their allegiance behind the EGB and, following Sheephaven's lead, asserted their independence from Ireland, creating the new "Portlands Republic". The EGB responded by attacking and taking over not just Guinness' Wexford facility but also attacking the Guinness facility in Swansea, Wales (the EGB's first international act), which they burned to the ground.
Guinness had no choice but to attack the IRA, who were well prepared for the fight. The two clashed for days without an end in sight, creating greater and greater chaos in Dublin itself. Impromptu militias formed within the city that threw their support behind either Guinness or the IRA, which further complicated the fight. Eventually, clashes erupted all over the island, as the people grew restless at the unrest in the Capitol. Initially, these riots were mainly clashes between supporters of the IRA and Guinness, but soon Guinness' rivals saw an opportunity and sought to influence the rioters to their own side. The result saw the breweries exert considerable influence and control over these new militias, and after weeks of a stalemate at the Capitol, these new militias became entrenched and order in Ireland finally collapsed. Guiness was forced to accede the inevitable and fell back to his brewery, quickly capturing its environs and a portland to give him access to badly needed supplies.
On August 22, 1994, the Dublin Times declared in its now momentous headline, "The Beer Wars have begun".