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Ulster for Beginners – Part VI

The Republic of Ireland

While people will usually accept that the majority of Ulster’s citizens object to a united Ireland many still find themselves wondering why. After all, they say, the Republic seems a very pleasant, friendly sort of place and it is a modern democracy and a member of the European Union.

One might as well ask why Southern England doesn’t unite with France. After all it’s a modern democracy and a member of the European Union etc. The simple truth is that the people of Southern England have no desire to become French. To them the idea is simply absurd. The same holds for the British people of Ulster.

Another example is that of Canada and the United States. There, with the exception of Quebec, both peoples share the same language, a similar culture and a similar constitutional tradition. And yet, there is absolutely no desire on the part of Canadians to become Americans. Although a union between those two countries would almost certainly work there is something about being Canadian that Canadians wish to preserve.

Let’s, for a change, put the boot on the other foot. Why doesn’t the Republic of Ireland put an end to all this bother and rejoin the United Kingdom? After all, the two countries share similar geographies, languages and culture. Once again, to the vast majority of the citizens of the Republic of Ireland the idea seems absurd. But if union with the United Kingdom seems absurd to them why should union with the Republic of Ireland seem any less absurd to Ulster unionists?

All this does not bring us any closer to a rational explanation of the resistance to a united Ireland. Maybe there isn’t a rational explanation for national feeling. But the fact that something is not rational does not mean it does not exist.

In addition to what might be described as “national feeling” there are practical, real-world reasons why Ulster’s majority oppose a united Ireland.

One of these is the influence of the Catholic Church which plays the dominant role in administering the education and health systems of the Republic of Ireland. It does not like mere politicians interfering in that role. In 1952, Noel Browne, Irish Minister for Health, proposed a modest set of health reforms, known as the Mother and Child proposal. This was condemned by the Catholic Church and the proposals were dropped.

[Well, this is out of date!]

One of the guiding policies of successive Eire administrations has been the promotion of the Gaelic language. The Ulster British do not speak Gaelic. Gaelic is compulsory in all state schools. All public notices are in English and Gaelic. Funnily enough it is extremely rare to come across a sign in Irish being displayed by a commercial enterprise. If it is important, it is in English.

One is forever hearing allegations of Protestant brutality against Catholics in Ulster. One rarely hears about Protestants faring badly in Eire. This leads some to assume that Eire is a plural paradise which, through some sort of mystical Gaelic charm, has managed to avoid the conflicts that have so beset the victims of colonial oppression in Ulster. That we have not heard of the oppression of Protestants in Eire does not mean it has not happened.

Take the statistics. At partition 10% of the population of the Republic was Protestant; now it is no more than 3%. The Protestant population continues to decline. It is worth comparing this with the situation of Catholics in Ulster whose numbers as a proportion of the population of Northern Ireland have increased and continue to increase.

Why this dramatic and large decrease in population? In Western Europe, it is one of the largest decreases in population this century. And yet it receives little attention.

By the application of a Gaelic language requirement, Protestants were effectively barred from membership of the police force and jobs in government. [Really?] In 1931 in Co Mayo a Protestant, Letitia Dunbar-Harrison, was appointed Chief Librarian. The Church protested that she would be able to stock the shelves of the local library with heretical texts. While Protestants were allowed to teach, they were not allowed to teach religion, presumably in case they infected young Catholic minds with dangerous ideas. Archbishop McRory, Bishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland, even claimed, again in 1931, that Protestants were “not even part of the Church of Christ”.

[Hmm. I think I’m pushing it a bit here. And anyway, the experiences of my own family are a much better guide. My grandmother could point to the massacre of a local family and a bomb being thrown into her teacher training college in Dublin. My mother was perfectly well aware that there was no point in applying for a job in the civil service of post office, Gaelic-speaker or otherwise. But other than that, not much. Having said that the majority of my great-grandparents descendents live outside the Republic of Ireland.]

The decline in the Protestant population of Eire remains as mysterious as it is dramatic. The consequence today is that Protestants are deeply suspicious of a united Ireland. They fear that Irish nationalism is the cover for the removal of Protestants from the island of Ireland for good. Sinn Féin councillor, Mary Nelis, did nothing to allay this suspicion when she said “we have never accepted your [Protestant] right to exist”.

[Hmm. I think I am once again pushing it here. I think she may have been referring to the Orange Order.]

The Republic of Ireland is also a lot poorer than Northern Ireland. It always was, but on independence it made a number of economic mistakes. The main one was to introduce high tariff barriers against products from the United Kingdom, in an effort to boost domestic industry. The result was massive unemployment. Although, prosperity levels are far closer nowadays (Eire’s economy having been propped up by subsidies from the EU and Ulster’s undermined by the Troubles), Northern Ireland’s people have lower taxes, lower prices and higher social spending which all add up to make them better off than their counterparts in Eire.

Ulstermen are suspicious of the Republic of Ireland’s attitude towards Northern Ireland. Far from acting as a state just hoping for the day that their northern cousins would see the error of their ways and join the common Irish fold, the Republic of Ireland has frequently acted with hostility and indifference towards its “fellow citizens” in Ulster. At the birth of the independent state, its leaders were organising a boycott of Ulster goods and running guns to the IRA despite the fact that these weapons would overwhelmingly be used to kill Ulster citizens.

[There was quasi-official gun-running at the beginning of the Troubles, I might add.]

More recently, the Republic of Ireland has provided a more or less safe haven for those suspected of carrying out terrorist acts in Ulster. Even after the Irish government reluctantly introduced extradition, applications by the British government for the transfer of terrorist suspects would be thrown out for the most minor of technicalities, such as a missing comma.

At other times the government of the Republic of Ireland seems [“has seemed” surely?] intent on pursuing Sinn Fein/IRA’s agenda, especially in the so-called “peace process”. When one bears in mind the many murders of Protestants carried out by the IRA simply because they were Protestants it is not hard to see why unionists are so suspicious of becoming part of the Republic of Ireland.

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Part VII
Part IX

15 comments to Ulster for Beginners – Part VI

  • bob sykes

    1952… You’re only 67 years out of date, almost three whole generations. Nowadays the Catholic Church can not prevent even abortion rights.

    You really need to update you propaganda. The old timey Protestant good/Catholic bad schtick just doesn’t work anymore.

    You might also remember Cromwell’s actual genocide against Catholics and the conquest and enserfment of Catholic in their own country. One reason not to join the UK.

  • SkippyTony

    I have an otherwise rational friend who is from the RoI. No discussion of the situation today gets more than two paragraphs old without him fervently wanting to dig Cromwell up (again) and kill him (again).

    OK, yes I get it. The British killed some 200,000 out of a population of 2,000,000. By any account the majority of whom were “in arms” or refused to surrender or refused quarter. By the standard of the day, harsh but not Khmer Rouge level arbitrary.

    Cromwell died 360 odd years ago. Time to move on, maybe? ***waits for shitstorm to descend***

  • mdg

    > bob

    You obviously know exactly zero actual Irish history. Just repeating Republican myths. Cromwell massacred a couple of thousand people. The other side massacred a couple of thousand people. It was a civil war, you know. All atrocities cancel out in this sort of game.

    Not one single story of that the Republicans trot out over and over again to excuse their barbaric behavior survives any close inspection. Even the made up numbers for the famine can be easily disproved by actually looking up the primary sources. Which exist in abundance. The one million dead is a number made up in the last 30 years. The actual number is 20,000. According to Oscar Wildes father who made a very good case for its veracity. He wrote the 1851 Census report. Still a terrible number. But far lower than the famine in Finland twenty years later.

    The reason why unionists dont want a united Ireland and havent since the Ulster Covenant is because the ROI is an utterly corrupt, totally mismanaged, squalid little banana republic with an economy almost totally based of aiding and abetting multi national companies tax and regulatory fraud. Look up the bizarre national accounts for proof.

    Where the locals will say what they think you want to hear to your face, which is why the seem so pleasant to outsiders, and then spend their whole time trying to stab you in the back. In other words a typical peasant culture. Whereas the typical Nordie will tell you straight what they think and are men of their word. In other words a typical civic culture. The two never ever match.

    Just the opinion of someone most of whose ancestors hale from south ulster for at least the last four thousand years (in the genetic studies are correct) and whose five decades of direct experience of the ROI and NI has made into a staunch unionist.

    I happen to be in the ROI at the moment. They live in their own little fantasy land when it comes to the outside world. Always have. Scratch the surface and its still a typical peasant culture. Despite the patina of modernity.

  • [My father] was an agnostic who was intensely proud of his Catholic ancestors … who clung to their faith under the penal laws, when it would have been greatly to their advantage to renounce it, and pretend to be Protestants. In early twentieth century Ireland, on the other hand, it would have been greatly to my father’s advantage to pretend to believe in the teachings of the Catholic Church. In refusing to do so, he believed that he was treading – in a somewhat paradoxical manner – in the footsteps of his penalised Catholic ancestors. Like them, he refused to pretend to believe things he did not in fact believe, and like them, he paid a price for that refusal. There is of course an element of ‘cussedness’ in this position, and this is a characteristic which I have observed in a number of members of my family.

    The quote is from the preface to Conor Cruise O’Brien’s biography of Edmund Burke. I don’t think Conor is suggesting that ‘like’ means ‘the same price’ in ‘like them, he paid a price for that refusal’ if one compares 1720s Ireland to 1920s Ireland. On the other hand, and on the other side of the question, I suspect he is not equating the price in 1900s Ireland with that of 1920s Ireland either.

    As the OP notes, times have changed since Patrick’s pamphlet was written. Today, the government of Eire seems more captured by EU and woke elites than that of the north – but times may change again.

  • Patrick Crozier (Twickenham)

    @mdg Any sources would be most welcome.

  • ABSOLUTELY no desire for Canada-US joining? No.

    According to Leger Polling, between 7%-20% of Canadians would like to be part of US depending how question is asked.

    The number doubles if 2 other ways of joining US–as autonomous and freely associated commonwealth, or remaining a UN nation but with a US governance compact (pioneered by US libertarians) allowing freer travel, trade, and integrated defense–according to polls by the Libertarian International Org.

    On a funnier note, there is a meme for leftist US states to join Canada, somewhat: : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesusland_map

  • Paul Marks

    Bob Sykes – Patrick is not pushing any “propaganda”, he is just publishing stuff from years ago (historical perspective).

    Of course, these days, believing Roman Catholics despise what the Republic of Ireland has become – a land where the Frankfurt School of Marxism (abortion and all) is worshipped, not God. However, the moral standing of the Roman Catholic Church was undermined by DECADES of hiding child abuse by priests and others. Sadly many people have (literally) “thrown the baby out with the bath water” – rejecting Christianity (and the traditions of Western Civilisation) because of the terrible sins of some priests and the COVER UP.

    It should also be remembered that many Protestant “leaders” in the West are just as bad as Roman Catholic leaders – they (Protestant as well as Catholic) trot out Frankfurt School stuff without even knowing what they are doing. Pope Francis is most certainly NOT the only leader of a Christian Church who has as accepted, as truth, many of the lies of the Frankfurt School – the old Marxist lie of “oppression” and “exploitation” now wrapped in the language of “anti racism”, “feminism” and so on. The “equality and diversity agenda” sounds nicer than “Class Struggle” but the aim is the same – the destruction of the West.

    There have always been Catholic Unionists – and it is clearly time for Catholics and Protestants to come together to defend Ulster from the Frankfurt School “liberalism” that is the destroying the West.

    The point is to overcome SECTARIANISM – the Sectarian does not give a damn about Christianity or Western Civilisation in general, to him “Catholic” and “Protestant” are just tribal banners – they have no theological content.

    The true enemy is the Marxist “liberalism” that is coming from BOTH Dublin and London.

    London (Westminster) is just as much a threat to the traditional liberties for which Unionism stands (including FREEDOM OF SPEECH – see the recent prosecutions of Christians whether they be bakers or preachers) as Dublin is.

    Remember the Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland could not care less about Ireland or the Irish – indeed his policies (or rather the policies of the international “liberal” elite of whom he is the loyal servant) are designed to DESTROY the Irish. Just as these policies internationally are designed to destroy all other Western peoples.

    Let us have no more talk about the “unintended consequences” of “Progressive” government policies – the destruction of the West is not “unintended”, it is the deliberate aim (the intention) of the international “liberal” establishment elite. Their control of so much of the media and the education system (including some private and even Church schools and universities) is the source of their power in the West – which they use (with full intent) to try and destroy the West.

    Most certainly the average person nodding their head at the lies of the BBC (or RTE) does NOT know that the aim of the “Progressive” movement is the destruction of the West – but the university educated leaders of that movement DO know.

  • Ben David

    Up to Part VI – wow!
    When I try to explain the situation here in Israel, most people lose interest after Part III.

  • AndrewWS

    @Ben David

    Perhaps you should do a series of posts on Israel. I, for one, look forward to it.

  • Mr Ed

    Ben D

    When I try to explain the situation here in Israel, most people lose interest after Part III.

    Well, it gets a bit long-winded at Deuteronomy, skip to the Romans, and tell them The Life of Brian is a documentary.

  • Julie near Chicago


  • Ben David

    “The Life of Brian is a documentary.”

    Well it does feature gender fluidity and cross dressing, which is prescient if not prophetic.

  • Well, it gets a bit long-winded at Deuteronomy (Mr Ed, August 2, 2019 at 8:55 pm)

    Is it for a lawyer to complain a book of rules is long-winded? 🙂

    No small amount of the information in first and second Kings is repeated in first and second Chronicles – just in case you missed it the first time. It is useful for historians to have multiple accounts of events, but if one was to complain that any part of the book of books was long-winded … 🙂

  • Runcie Balspune

    I can somehow imagine the woke politics in Ireland could be exploited by the Protestants to claim victim status and get government funded Orange Marches.

  • John McCartan

    Employment denied to Protestants in the ROI. As evidenced by that notorious papist and gaelic-gabbler President Douglas Hyde.