Where is the Protestant community today? Discussion in East Belfast on Thursday evening, along with preview of Paisley & Me

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Paisley & Me is a new play by Ron Hutchinson that examines Ulster Protestants through the eyes of Ian Paisley and his family. Dan Gordon will be donning his heavy overcoat and dog collar [Ed – Never!?] to play the preacher and politician, joined on stage by actors Stella McCusker, Lalor Roddy and Des McAleer.

The play opens in the Marketplace Theatre in Armagh on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 October, before transferring to The Grand Opera House for a week’s run during the Belfast Festival at Queen’s (Tuesday 30 October – Saturday 3 November).

You can also catch the production on a short tour at the following venues:

(There’s a certain irony in the some of the play’s performances receiving financial support from council community relations programmes using funds from OFMdFM!)

But if you want a sneak preview of Paisley & Me then come along to The Shipyard Church (Westbourne Presbyterian Community Church at the bottom of the Newtownards Road) at 7pm on Thursday 18 October.

As well as excerpts from the play, there will be a performances and readings by local community groups, and a panel discussion featuring Michael Copeland MLA, Sammy Douglas MLA, Councillor John Kyle, Jackie McDonald (UPRG), asking:

Where is the Protestant community today?

The panel will be chaired by Noel Thompson, who is no longer busy with Hearts & Minds on a Thursday evening! [Update - follow up post covering the debate (including audio)] Contact marketing AT gblproductions DOT com for to register in advance for the preview, or just turn up on Thursday night!

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  • Tomas Gorman

    What exactly is “the protestant community”?

  • lover not a fighter

    If you have looked to Ian Paisley as a role model in the past then you probably realise that you took some wrong turns !

  • http://alaninbelfast.blogspot.com Alan in Belfast

    lover not a fighter – suspect some of those wrong turns will be highlighted in the play!

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    Tomas
    “What exactly is “the protestant community”?

    Funny when Martin Lynch was on the radio talking about this play he said “the republican family” how is it that the protestant’s have a community while republicans have a family? And what is or who is this republican family???

  • BarneyT

    Of course, the separation (seemingly) between Protestantism and Republicanism is relatively recent.

    Hold on…I was about to separate Protestantism from loyalism (loyal to the crown) but if you define yourself as a protestant (presumably active) you automatically align yourself with the protestant church and therefore the Queen and all that goes with that.

    So, my notion (and the point I was about to make) that you can be a protestant and a republican is shot down in flames.

    Perhaps the united irish republicans (catholics and presbyterians) formed a family as a result of two “communities” uniting, however independently you have catholic and protestant communities?

    Anyhow, can someone else please confirm that it is possible to be protestant and republican, or does protestanism, in England or any other part of the world imply loyalty to a monach!

    Then again you have US protestants who espouse the US republic.

  • galloglaigh

    Barney

    Billy Leonard is a good example. I know a few Protestant republicans also. It’s not a common thing, but there are examples. After all, the republican family was born of Protestant fore-bearers.

  • Tomas Gorman

    I imagine Martin Lynchs reference describes the plethora if Republican parties/organisations across the country. Not all of them identical with some outwardly hostile to each other.

    My issue is that when people refer to the Protestant or Catholic community, it lazily presupposes a homogeny that I don’t believe in. Do we include Protestants from Fortwillam (and their interests) with Protestants from the lower Shankill in the same community?

    It’s an utter nonsense.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Where is the Protestant community today?’

    Where it was yesterday and the day before and for the past 30 years- torn between two political worlds -one dead and it’s replacement powerless to be born .

    So not much different then from the Catholic NI community .who are in the same leaky boat .

    But it could be worse for both communities a lot worse so for now it’s about as good or as bad as it gets within current restraints/staightjacket or call it what you will . The patient can’t be released from his current holding cell just yet and perhaps not ever.

    In the meantime the rest of the world moves on .

    I hope Ron Hutchinson’s play is a great success .Anyone brave enough to display the ‘undead ‘ Paisley on stage has to have more than a little neck ! The reviews will be reealing with comparisons as between those of opposing tribal instincts of particular interest .

  • Reader

    BarneyT: Anyhow, can someone else please confirm that it is possible to be protestant and republican, or does protestanism, in England or any other part of the world imply loyalty to a monach!
    Only Church of England, not including the disestablishmentarian wing. And there aren’t many CoE round here.
    Among Presbyterians, Church of Ireland or Methodist the loyalty is historical, circumstantial or common-cause.

  • Cruthin

    So, my notion (and the point I was about to make) that you can be a protestant and a republican is shot down in flames.

    @ Barney T: You can be a Protestant and a Republican. In fact the United Irishmen were Irish Republicans composed of Catholics, Protestants, and dissenters. Irish Republicanism only became an almost exclusively Catholic phenomenon after Daniel O’ Connell. In this time of (relative) peace we may witness a rejuvenation of Republican thoughts and ideals among a very tiny minority of Protestants, or ‘realists’ as they would be more accurately described.

    Religious affiliation has no bearing on one’s political orientation, as although for well over a century most Unionists have been Protestants, and most Nationalists Catholics, our conflict has primarily been about nationality, not religion, and as well as there being a tiny minority of Protestant Republicans, no doubt there also exists a small minority of Catholic Unionists. In fact, if recent opinion polls are accurate, there seems to be a rise in the number of young Catholics supporting the Union, which of course has been great news for Protestant Unionists.

    I would consider myself a dissenter in all of this, or someone from the Unionist community who whilst being vociferously opposed to Republican (and indeed Loyalist) violence throughout the troubles, understands Irish Republicanism, and whilst being opposed to violence, empathizes with the Irish people and what they have experienced as a result of British colonization.

    Both tribes have oppressed one another on this island, and if peaceful and consensual reunification with inbuilt guarantees and assurances to the Protestant community constituted a significant part of any future agreement, and deterred any further violence, it might be interesting to witness just how many Protestants might come around to the concept of becoming Irish citizens, or more accurately; embracing the Irish part of their British-Irish dual nationality.

  • Cruthin

    @ Barney T: You can be a Protestant and a Republican. In fact the United Irishmen were Irish Republicans composed of Catholics, Protestants, and dissenters. Irish Republicanism only became an almost exclusively Catholic phenomenon after Daniel O’ Connell. In this time of (relative) peace we may witness a rejuvenation of Republican thoughts and ideals among a very tiny minority of Protestants, or ‘realists’ as they would be more accurately described.

    Religious affiliation has no bearing on one’s political orientation, as although for well over a century most Unionists have been Protestants, and most Nationalists Catholics, our conflict has primarily been about nationality, not religion, and as well as there being a tiny minority of Protestant Republicans, no doubt there also exists a small minority of Catholic Unionists. In fact, if recent opinion polls are accurate, there seems to be a rise in the number of young Catholics supporting the Union, which of course has been great news for Protestant Unionists.

    I would consider myself a dissenter in all of this, or someone from the Unionist community who whilst being vociferously opposed to Republican (and indeed Loyalist) violence throughout the troubles, understands Irish Republicanism, and whilst being opposed to violence, empathizes with the Irish people and what they have experienced as a result of British colonization.

    Both tribes have oppressed one another on this island, and if peaceful and consensual reunification with inbuilt guarantees and assurances to the Protestant community constituted a significant part of any future agreement, and deterred any further violence, it might be interesting to witness just how many Protestants might come around to the concept of becoming Irish citizens, or more accurately; embracing the Irish part of their British-Irish dual nationality.

  • carl marks

    ArdoyneUnionist (profile)
    15 October 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Tomas
    “What exactly is “the protestant community”?

    Funny when Martin Lynch was on the radio talking about this play he said “the republican family” how is it that the protestant’s have a community while republicans have a family? And what is or who is this republican family???
    Now calm down it just a choice of words honestly, don’t go all mope on us now.
    I’m sure you have a family just like us . ;-)

  • http://alaninbelfast.blogspot.com Alan in Belfast

    Should have added a link earlier to the post about the event and the discussion afterwards.

  • tacapall

    ” Anyhow, can someone else please confirm that it is possible to be protestant and republican, or does protestanism, in England or any other part of the world imply loyalty to a monach”

    Check the court records, there have been plenty of Protestants charged with offenses liked to the IRA and all have served their sentences in Republican wings in the Blocks.

  • Fried Young Cannibal

    Cruthin, there are indeed Catholic unionists, and more then ever it seems, but I find that they (most of them) are in favour of maintaining the union with Britain only because of economic worries, it is nothing at all ideological and they still have an all-Ireland identity. Speaking for myself as someone who has always wanted a united Ireland, if a border poll were held this week I would abstain. Anyone talking of a united Ireland at the moment needs their head seen to. 30 to 50 years would be a reasonable enough time-frame to hope for a united Ireland imo. For the moment we need to forget about it and focus on the here and now, while discussing what a united Ireland would and could look like in the future. The coming census will be interesting, but even if there were a Catholic majority on the horizon, economics need to be sorted well out all over Ireland before we could even think about campaigning for reunification.

    A 30 to 50 year time-frame will also allow the Protestant unionists of the north to become less fearful of the south and its establishment. In that time also we can hope that the south has washed away any remaining stains left by the hated foreign empire which ruled over it for so long, and I speak of that demented and sickening cult which has its emperor in Rome. Hopefully by then the Gaelic Irish people will have taken steps north and south to remove the hooks that rotten old cult still has in the life of our country through its involvement in children’s education

  • Fried Young Cannibal

    ” Anyone talking of a united Ireland at the moment needs their head seen to.”

    And when I say that I mean any nationalist or republican talking about holding a border poll now or in the near future, not discussing what a future united state would look like.

  • Dont Drink Bleach

    tacapall:
    Check the court records, there have been plenty of Protestants charged with offenses liked to the IRA and all have served their sentences in Republican wings in the Blocks.

    Yet more unproven tripe from our resident Jackanory.

    Seriously, how about posting something remotely truthful for once – and providing the evidence to back it up???

  • galloglaigh

    Pot, kettle, black ^

    Fried Young Cannibal is entirely correct. When the time comes for unity though, do you think the likes of Winstone Irvine will lie down and take it? I doubt it. I’d say he’d be throwing more than milk-crates in defence of his beloved Ulster.

    Others like Dodds (male or female) and Campbell won’t lie down either. Ireland’s troubles might not have yet started!

  • Glenn B

    Protestant this, Catholic that, Unionist them, Republican us – I honestly feel that as a society we suffer amnesia and go around and around in sectarian circles of one up man ship.

    The overwhelming majority of people on this Island (both jurisdictions) voted for the GFA which became the building block for the evolving, political dispensation in Northern Ireland, and the relationship between the people of these Islands (Britain & Ireland).

    It gave, as a right (article 1) the choice for anyone to choose their National allegiance – British, Irish or indeed both. It cemented the principle of consent – the only people that can change the Constitutional position of Northern Ireland are the “British” and “Irish” people of Northern Ireland.

    For now, the only threat to the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Referendum in Scotland because if Scot Nationalists win then the Union is no more (no matter how some may dress the breakup).

    As a Unionist I don’t fear democracy. If at a time in my future the democratic will of the people here see’s society opting for a New Ireland (for what ever reason) then so be it I’ll be there playing a positive part (likely lobbying for Commonwealth membership) and creating a-new with my fellow Northerners (we actually can teach those southerners a thing or two!) …. but what will not happen is unification into the existing, politically inept, economically failed (26 county) Irish Republic – not now, not in 50 years.

  • tacapall

    I guess you haven’t seen many of the boys about DDB probably spoofing to everyone they’re dodging the peelers but they’re meeting their handlers, probably panicking and wondering whats happening and are they ok. I suppose it depends if they’re useful to the PSNI – By the way what do ya call yours ?

  • http://www.wordpress.ianjamesparsley.com IJP

    Glad so many have challenged the term “Protestant Community”.

    It has no grounds socially, historically or really economically. Politically, there is perhaps “Unionist”, but even that is doubtful.

    The fact the term is actually applied in law (“Are you a member of the Protestant Community”) is a disgrace which should have been stopped long ago.