The Catholic church flounders again over sexuality within

You couldn’t make it up. The decision of the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin  to remove  his diocese’s ( only) three trainees from  St Patrick’s Maynooth and pack then off to the comparative safety of Rome (!),  because of a  “poisonous atmosphere” surrounding allegations about the use of a gay dating app in the College, is more farce than tragedy – or would be, if the seminarians are as worldly – wise as most young people are these days.

To this outsider the episode speaks poorly of the inability of  the Catholic bishops’ conference to act collectively and hold an investigation for the good of  the non-Dubliners still attending. It’s hardly satisfactory for the church  once again to default  to anonymous denial  – assuming of course that it still dismisses gay nature as “objective disorder”.

Columnist Patrick Murphy in the Irish News  pins more of the blame on  the archbishop for taking evasive action than on the college authorities for failing to get to the bottom of  the allegations ( no pun intended).

The explanation for this bizarre episode appears to revolve around Dr Martin, who is known to be something of a maverick. He has a good reputation for the way he handled the child abuse scandal. He handed over 80,000 files from the archdiocesan archives to the Murphy Commission, including 5,000 papers which his predecessor, Desmond Connell, took court action to keep secret.

The term “ maverick” has been used by a few writers on the story as if it was part of a briefing . It’s a strange term to apply to someone as senior as the Archbishop of Dublin in what is supposed to be a new era of transparency and dates from that remarkable tussle with his predecessor.

The response of the college authorities has come in the form of a unattributable, qualified denial by   “ a seminarian… who contacted the Irish Times.”    

The man was not aware of any gay subculture at Maynooth – “and I know everyone. I mean everyone. There are a lot of cliques, but there are not even whispers about guys practicing,” he said.

He might have surmised that some colleagues were gay, but that was as far as it went.

“I didn’t even know what Grindr was before this,” he said, referring to the gay dating site used by some seminarians at Maynooth, it has been claimed.

“If there is a gay culture, it must be among a very small number of men because the rest of us had no idea about it.It wasn’t an open secret, which is the way the press is covering it. If the seminarians didn’t know about it, then there’s no way the staff could have.”

Fionnuala O’Connor in the Irish News set the Maynooth boycott in a wider context of social  and sexual change still very much in progress…

The gap between progress towards homosexual equality and acceptance of a woman’s right to control her own reproductive process is painfully obvious.

But the giddy cheer of Pride is not the whole story. As campaigning groups well know, across the north young teenagers and even adults are still sick with fear about telling parents and even siblings it’s a girlfriend they crave not a boyfriend, or that their gender is a work in progress.

Once it was beyond the Irish Church’s imagination – and that of the global institution – to question official structures from within, let alone exposing their failings to public view.

The archbishop as before in his twelve years in the post made his move regardless of shock value.

Experts on recent Church history, in particular the Irish Times religious correspondent Patsy McGarry, have reported his near-isolation from the rest of the hierarchy since his first, hard struggle to winkle diocesan records out of his predecessor, Cardinal Desmond Connell.

But where Martin focused on gossip about sexual promiscuity, real or alleged, as scandalous and bad for trainee priests, some new recruits have apparently been told they are too rigid, ultra-orthodox; conservatives complain about liberal Maynooth teaching.

The cumulative effect of insider truth-telling is still rolling, Ireland north and south healthier every time another dogmatic institution develops a crack.

Patrick Murphy sees in  the archbishop’s boycott a struggle for clerical power.

He also appears to be promoting Dublin above Armagh in speaking for the Irish Church. For example, Armagh can handle the pettiness of Stormont, but only the Dublin Archdiocese can deal with the Irish government. (Even the Church is now partitioned.) It may not have been a coup, but it was certainly a statement of intent. Armagh’s silence suggests that he won.

Well it ebbs and flows. Desmond Connell of Dublin wore  the cardinal’s hat during much of Sean Brady’s primacy at Armagh. And although Cardinal d’Alton was the  all-Ireland primate, there was no doubt who  wore the socks in the era of John Charles McQuaid.

McQuaid was never made a cardinal and de Valera had something to do with that. In 1953 he was a leading contender but the honour went instead to the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, John d’Alton. McQuaid was informed by a friend in Rome that the reason for d’Alton’s appointment was political. The Vatican fully realised that McQuaid was the leading contender for the red hat but, his friend wrote, he had been informed by Joseph Walshe, the Irish minister to the Holy See, that the reason for d’Alton’s appointment was ‘an attempt to conciliate the North and emphasise the unity of Ireland’.

Between Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh with his very localised experience and the former Vatican official Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, who will get the next red hat? It would  be a quite a statement if Dublin is preferred over Armagh.



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  • Alan N/Ards

    Unionists were not the only Irish people who refused to accept the democratic will of the people, during that era. The anti treaty forces (under de Valera) refused to accept the democratic will of the people and caused the awful civil war that split the Free State.

    It’s very hard to say if history would have been altered if northern unionists had accepted the all island home rule.

    i don’t believe that de Valera’s brand of republicanism would have allowed unionism to stop their dream of an independent Irish state. Maybe the border saved many lives (on both sides) during the civil war.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Hi Seaan

    Do you have any suggestions on reading material relating to this era?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Only too happy to help Alan. I’ve already been recommending Alvin Jackson’s work to Nevin. I quote:

    “[Alvin’s] excellent and highly detailed work on early Unionism (“The Ulster party, Irish Unionists in the House of Commons,1884-1911”, 1989), on Saunderson (“Colonel Edward Saunderson, Land and Loyalty in Victorian Ireland” 1995) and on Home Rule itself (“Home Rule, an Irish History, 1800-2000″ 2004). I cannot recommend these books too highly for anyone wishing to understand the period properly. I should perhaps add that in recommeding them I am not Alvin Jackson!”

    Another fine and highly informative book is A.C.Henderson’s “Catholic Belfast and Nationalist Ireland, in the Era of Joe Devlin, 1871-1934”. Henderson’s work gives a close survey of the more public discussions of possible constitutional solutions in 1914 both in Westminster and in Ireland.

    Some parts of where I’m coming from are from primary source research which I will have to publish still, but I’m trying to keep what I’m saying here as close as possible to what can be found in published work, or at least from sources digitised online recently as with the Plunkett diary.

    Some of these books are prohibitively expensive, but I think all are available in the library system. I hope this helps.

  • Nevin

    “Incidently, we in the north actually were dragged into serious consequent violence,”

    Seaan, you’re fond of quoting Alvin Jackson when it suits your narrative. With regard to some of the violence you mention he notes that the IRA murder of Col Smyth was promptly followed by ‘the violent expulsion of Catholic workers from the shipyards, engineering firms and mills of the city’ and the IRA murder of DI Swanzy in Lisburn was followed by ‘further aggression against the local Catholic community’. IIRC Catholic homes and businesses were burnt out in Lisburn.

    Alvin: ‘Northern Catholics believed that the very high casualties that they sustained, together with the evictions and expulsions, represented a concerted loyalist pogrom. Even with the benefit of hindsight the evidence for this is ambiguous: Protestant casualties were not insignificant, and IRA offensive action in predominantly Protestant towns (such as, in fact, Belfast or Lisburn) continued unabated through much of the period 1920–2.’

    “The demand for partition by the UUC and their rejection of Midleton’s proposals”

    The Redmond-Midleton proposals had neither the support of nationalists nor of unionists and both gentlemen fell by the wayside.

  • Anglo-Irish

    No they weren’t, but as they say two wrongs don’t make a right.

    It’s interesting to speculate how things would have turned out if the northern unionists had taken the same decision as many of their brethren in the rest of the country.

    We have clear factual evidence in the appointing of twenty protestants to the original sixty seat Seanad that their views would have counted.

    On the one hand I’m of the opinion that it would have strengthened the country overall and reduced the influence of the Catholic Church, which although I was raised Catholic I believe would have been a good thing.

    On the other hand Home Rule would have kept the country under the ultimate power of Westminster.

    As the Republic has prospered more than Scotland, Wales and the English regions it’s probably safe to say that the effect on the country overall wouldn’t have been totally positive.

    Having said which there presumably would have been far less violence which is always to be counted on the plus side.

  • Enda

    Do you perhaps require a map dear boy?

  • Jollyraj
  • eireanne3

    “You can – of course – argue it doesn’t apply to all Ulster Protestants of that era”
    Indeed it didn’t

    The ‘Alternative Ulster Covenant’, was signed in October 1913 by some twelve thousand Protestants from County Antrim in support of Home Rule and against partition.

    The Alternative Covenant was written by Rev JB Armour and Roger Casement (british consul),It was supported by Mrs Alice Stopford green, daughter of the Church of Ireland Archdeacon of Meath and granddaughter of the Bishop of Meath, and capt Jack White, son of a British general and himself a soldier.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you for filling out the narrative a little more from Alvin, Nevin. My responses are already usually very long and I’m attempting to point to certian features of events relitive to what I’m saying. Certainly there was IRA action in Belfast and assasinations ( one attempted assasination in my immediate family at the time) but I am pointing to one very important reason why the broad Catholic community were unable to trust the Government of the northern counties, the conspicious failure to punish Specials in uniform who openly engaged in sectarian actions, and the suggestion (wheither right or wrong is irrelvent to the all important impression it made on the minority) that such actions were giovernment authorised. Here’s one:

    I am not trying to present an entire, detailed history of the troubles in the early 1920s, but to make very particular points about the steady path to violence instigated by the Unionist invocation of physical force in an excessive response to what any reasonable person must consider a most innocious Home Rule Bill.

    You are seemingly repeating yet another of my points, in that I’d lamented in my comment that the Midleton proposals had been rejected myself. I was mentioning them there to suggest that had they been sensibly considered, then much violence and grief might have been avoided across our Island in succeeding years, in response to Alan’s question. The dismissal of these proposals marks yet one more dreary step towards the polarisation and violence which have marred our history since the Great War. This rejection of a reasonable, constitutional solution to something which then descended into island wide violence is certainly nothing that requires praise, to my mind.

  • grumpy oul man

    Well the next time a nationalist takes to the streets over something stupid like the flag only being flown at Belfast the same amount of times it is in a unionist controlled council, then i will call them knuckle draggers.
    Now we are talking of the present and the IRA has not been active for quite a while (the chief constable’s words not mine) but loyalists are still killing people so it still applies to them.
    Knuckle dragging also apply s to the morons who build bonfires where they are not wanted (this includes those in Nationalist areas) and adorn them with the Flags, symbols and religious icons of those they hate.

    And yes ISIS are knuckle draggers as are the dissidents.

  • grumpy oul man

    well it does describe your”everyone picks on us” syndrome very well!

  • grumpy oul man

    well it did give them a greater influence in the workings of the state than they would have had if unionists/ protestants been present in numbers.
    I have long thought that the greatest harm done to the Republic was the absence of the Unionist/protestant people in the state.

  • grumpy oul man

    Was civil marriage available in the republic, and did the church not enforce the rule (believe me i think it was vile ruling) The State could have stood up to the church more but i don’t think they could intervene in a church dogma, that is up to the members of the church.

  • grumpy oul man

    well there had to be hurt at such a snub especially when you consider that the man had been President.

  • Jollyraj

    I don’t think anyone picks on us, really. I find that NI folk tend to get along well and be made to feel quite welcome in the rest of the UK and even further afield. Get along fairly well with the Irish, too – the ‘real’ Irish from Ireland proper – it’s just that we and the curious breed apart that is the Northern Irish Irish Nationalist that we don’t always see eye to eye with.

    But nobody is really oppressing us, not at all. So I’m mystified by this MOPE thing.

  • grumpy oul man

    “Give her her due – nice to see someone posting on Slugger who doesn’t
    think it’s all the unionists fault. Not once does she blame the
    (apparently) dire credit situation at the door of the dastardly

    sounds like you think everybody on slugger Does and mope on and on about it.

  • Katyusha

    Get along fairly well with the Irish, too – the ‘real’ Irish from Ireland proper

    I’m done. At some point, you truly fell through the looking glass.
    I’d ask you how you think think the Irish in the north came to forfeit their status as “real” Irish, or what they suddenly became, if anything, but I doubt there’s a mite of logic in the whole thing.
    So I’ll just leave your quote as an example of how much work needs to be done before NI can function as a healthy society. I hope you realise how ridiculous it looks.

  • Nevin

    Seaan, I don’t see where trust is relevant; the Nationalist family, including the Catholic Church, failed to follow the example set by the Presbyterian Church.

    There was violence back in the 1880s when the shabby deal between Gladstone and Irish nationalists first saw the light of day, long before the Ulster and Irish volunteers acquired arms; there was also violence during the course of agrarian disturbances in the south-west of Ireland which, no doubt, would have had its own impact on strategic thinking by all of the parties to the conflict.

    “You are seemingly repeating yet another of my points”

    Not quite. You pointed the finger directly at unionists whereas the Redmond-Midleton understanding was unacceptable to both nationalists and unionists.

  • NotNowJohnny

    I’m pretty sure they would never have happened.

  • Gopher

    Like the Gay thing with religion I don’t get the feminist thing either. I’m not sure whether to credit the indoctrination, the gullibility or simply hubris that these people still want to be part of it.

  • Jollyraj


  • Jollyraj

    Thank you, Katyusha. Yes, it does sound ridiculous and, yes, I am fully aware of that. And credit to you for pulling me up on it.

    Pretending that there aren’t genuine Irish people in NI, or that the Irish people here are somehow less Irish than the Irish people who live in Ireland would be ludicrous. As ludicrous as Anglo Irish pretending that there are not British people here whom are as British as those British people from England, Wales and Scotland – as Anglo Irish so gratingly does. Wouldn’t you agree with all of that?

    Pretending that we aren’t British and Irish people who legitimately share NI is very much what got us into trouble in the first place. It is disappointing that no nationalist commentator thinks to correct Anglo Irish on his not-really-British nonsense. Mind you, I didn’t notice any of my unionist colleagues correcting me when I parodied him.

  • Roger

    It’s fair to say I have some personal connection with this topic. It involves persons acquiring an estate for a pittance. Perhaps what it would have cost to build the perimeter walls. From Protestants who fled the IFS.

    The “south” is places like Cork and Kerry to me.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Nevin, trust in ones government and its police is utterly relevant if you wish to live in a society with “rule of law”. If you do not trust an authority it can only rule tyrannically by coercion. If you have men in the livery of the state arbitrarily murdering members of the minority with impunity, it is hardly an encouragement for that minority to view that state positively. This critique is far from being my own. the work of Tim Bowman (“Carson’s Army”) and Tim Wilson (” ‘The most terrible assassination that has yet stained the name of Belfast’: the McMahon murders in context”) offer strong evidence of the effect of this, as do many other reputable historians.

    Of course there was endemic violence in Ireland, but this had passed during the 1890s entirely into constitutional argument through political channels, what Helen Waddell describes in her letter in 1916. The political violence of a recent past was entirely discredited and the old Fenians entirely sidelined with the growth of the IPP, and the certainty of Home Rule in a not too distant future.

    Northern Unionism brought the threat of violence back into what had become a normalisation of Irish politics. This is where a closer reading of evidence is utterly essential. The violence of the 1880s WAS during the 1880s, and did not apply to the early years of the twentieth century. These things need to be related to their actual moment in time, and neither their past nor future loosely read into them as “current” in a misplaced attempt to contradict what was actually occurring.

    Also, I’d advise a far closer study of both the antecedents of the Irish Constitutional Convention of 1917/18, and the Convention itself. Lord Cushendun, whom you began with, is a dangerous source. He is useful as a source of northern Unionist thinking, but in regard to any broader meaning, he should be seen as highly selective in what he presents and very directive in how he uses his material. My own reading, with (as you may have noticed) a close examination of the back history of the convention is that Cushendun is clearly presenting propaganda, describing the situation as northern Unionism wished it to be remembered. Regarding this unacceptability he speaks of, he is referring to the northern Unionist position, and some opposition within the IPP at that moment. If you had read the book on Joe Devlin, you would have noticed how, from all quarters, between 1910 and 1924 such opposition could be revised entirely within days!!! This was a very volatile situation and it certainly cannot even begin to be understood through “bullet point” history.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Alan, I could add books here endlessly, but there is one other very significant book I’d left out:

    Tim Bowman “Carson’s Army” Manchester University Press, 2007. Tim’s work on the afterlife of the UVF in the Specials is of some importance. He confirms my own family’s perception that although a strong effort was made to recruit disciplined men who had served in the Great War, many men who had served in the 36th Division were reluctant to be associated with those wild men and adolescent tearaways who were attracted to some of the more questionable units of the Specials.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I take your point Roger. Having met some old families who had served in the British forces, and who consequently were unable to even visit old family land in Munster, I fully recognise what you are referring to now. My mother in law made the mistake of bringing her car (with an English license plate) to her new home in West Cork. It was regularly scored in car parks, something that continued until she took it back to England and bought a local car to keep permanently for her periods of living in West Cork. But I’ve seldom heard of similar problems occurring elsewhere in Ireland and have many more experiences of those from an Anglo-Irish background (such as myself) experiencing no issues whatsoever.

  • Nevin

    “it is hardly an encouragement for that minority to view that state positively.”

    Not an unreasonable statement, Seaan; I agree. Catholics in NI were disproportionately affected by the violence in both jurisdictions that was instigated and driven by the IRA. Yet you also need to factor in the desire to be in a different state; trust in the current state is of little or no relevance.

    “Of course there was endemic violence in Ireland”

    I was unaware of endemic violence in Ulster during the period of agrarian disturbances in other parts of the island.

    “These things need to be related to their actual moment in time”

    This is self-evident nonsense. The sensibilities of individuals and groups is impacted on by current and past events, some of it flowing back for generations. This is illustrated by the life story of Martha Craig who’s politics IMO was greatly influenced by the stories she was told about events about three generations earlier whereas the changes in her religious beliefs appear to have been influenced by her contemporary experiences.

    “Lord Cushendun, whom you began with, is a dangerous source.”

    I wouldn’t view Ronald McNeill’s account as any more ‘dangerous’ than, say, some of the uncritical ‘cut and pasting’ and chronological disordering indulged in by the likes of your esteemed Alvin Jackson.

    In what way was it dangerous of him to observe that non-Ulster Unionists ‘issued a statement explaining the grounds of dissatisfaction with Lord Midleton’s action in the Convention, and declaring that he had ” lost the confidence of the general body of Southern Unionists.” Thereupon Lord Midleton and a small aristocratic clique associated with him seceded from the Alliance, and set up a little organisation of their own.”? It seems clear to me that indeed Redmond and Midleton had found themselves in no-man’s land in the Unionist v Nationalist encounter.

    “a normalisation of Irish politics”


  • John Collins

    Yes indeed- Why did Bethany House and Kincora have to exist?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Nevin, while the sensibilities of people are always formed from their experience and their communities experiences, this does not absolve an historian from carefully examining what was actually happening at any given moment. The normalisation of Irish politics into a constitutionalist form, and away from violence is well attested. I’ve already given you Helen Waddell’s comments on this in 1916 as one example, but you could find extensive confirmation of what I’m saying if you looked.

    Nevin, I do factor in the desire of local nationalists to be in a different state, but I was making particular point about how this was amplified by their treatment by the new northern administration. You must remember I’m making particular points, not writing an exhaustive history, something that cannot be approached in anything less than 40,000 words to my mind. And if I were doing this it might just take me a few years to respond!

    “I was unaware of endemic violence in Ulster during the period of agrarian disturbances in other parts of the island.”

    Surely riots were endemic between Sandy Row and the Pound all through the nineteenth century. This customarily occurred around the “Twelfth”, but could boil up from any Catholic funeral during the year, where some youths would stone the coffin for fun, and precipitate a general riot. My great grandfather had a shop front on his store between Sandy Row and the Pound and my grandfather and his brother remembered having to help put up the wooden shutters over the glass during riot season! There are many other town and country examples if you look for them.

    Regarding McNeill’s comment on Midleton, the situation was never as black and white as he implies, as I’ve been attempting to suggest, and this is why I’ve been referring this to its back history to show just how Byzantine the situation really was then, and how very different to the simplified versions of our popular histories. My own research makes me seriously question the statement that he had ” lost the confidence of the general body of Southern Unionists.” “The small aristocratic clique” he speaks of WERE the leadership of southern Unionism, the body who provided one third of the members of the first Free State Senate!!! McNeill’s quite conscious distortion of what was actually going on here is the reason I find him particularly “dangerous” for unwary readers who have not carefully researched the period and may take him at his word.

    I’m rather surprised that you characterise Alvin Jackson’s careful research and analytic skills as “uncritical ‘cut and pasting’ and chronological disordering”, he is one of the foremost authorities on this historical area whose authoritativeness on these topics has the full recognition of historians representing every shade of opinion throughout the profession, something quite rare. Perhaps if you went back and read his work you might discover how different the balanced analytic approach of Alvin Jackson’s work actually is from the biased political polemic Ronald offers us !!!

  • grumpy oul man

    Very funny. At least hodor had a job to do and done it, didnt run round shouting THEMMUNS are picking on me.
    I think we are finished here.
    And i would not want to keep you from being offended.

  • Nevin

    “he is one of the foremost authorities on this historical area whose authoritativeness on these topics has the full recognition of historians representing every shade of opinion throughout the profession”

    A remarkable boast, Seaan, yet he fails to mention the four Ulster conventions in the late 18th century and gives no detail about the 1892 convention other than to mention it took place. So much for ‘a balanced analytical approach’! There’re still also those problems with his caricature of Gladstone and that uncritical ‘cut n paste’ item I referred to previously.

    What are we then to make of Alvin’s view of your other little delicacy, Lord Midleton? On the Redmond-Midleton proposal in the 1917-1918 Convention, he appears to be in step with Ronald McNeill:

    Redmond, who was prepared to move for the acceptance of the revised Midleton scheme, was deserted by influential supporters, including Devlin and the representatives of the Catholic hierarchy. Midleton, on the other hand, had acted without consulting and without the consent of the Ulster Unionists, and indeed he had failed to canvass widely within his own southern Unionist constituency.

    He also to be in step with Ronald over the fate of Midleton:

    Subsequent divisions within southern Unionism, institutionalized by the split between the Irish Unionist Alliance, led after 1919 by John Walsh, and Lord Midleton’s Anti-Partition League (APL), effectively immobilized the movement.

    In light of Alvin’s comments, you might need to review your research. Did members of the IUA or the APL or both make it into the Senate? Perhaps the answer lies in Alvin’s observation:

    Lord Midleton, by no means incapable or immoderate, refused to disarm opposition within the IUA to his strategies, and preferred to leave the Alliance in 1919 in order to form the APL, a body which he also eventually left, in 1922 over a disagreement concerning the Free State senate.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    This is a very odd comment Nevin! How is any of what Alvin Jackson’s saying here in any way inconsistent with what I’ve been saying? Clearly there was a serious divergence within the IUA between reasonable southern and intractable northern Unionists over many years. I’ve never suggested that southern Unionism was as regimented and obedient to central policy as the northern Unionists. Midleton’s realisation from some years of discussion already that the northern Unionists would reject his proposals without discussion, what Alvin calls acting “without consulting and without the consent of the Ulster Unionists”, appears to have been a perfectly normal reaction. What I have been saying above is that this moment offered arguably the last opportunity to craft a Government of Ireland Act that would have averted the violence to follow, and that the rejection of these proposals were a disaster, where have I contradicted what sadly occurred? You appear to be arguing against something I have not actually said, but you can perhaps enlighten me as to what point you are attempting to make here.

    anyway, in what you ares suggesting these quotes imply, you seem to be making the mistake of looking at these things as isolated instances entirely out of context, as single bullet points rather than as moments in a stream of negotiation and argument occurring across a period of time, which must always qualify ones understanding of the meaning of what is being said. This is exactly why I have been stressing the that it is essential to study the period in some depth and to see how within the flow of events each event importantly relates to what has occurred in the “backstory” as we say in film, rather than isolating “bullet point” statements and suggesting the qualify something they clearly do not when the pattern is fully understood. If you began to examine the period in more depth you would quickly recognise just how Alvin Jackson is already giving more precise and complex information here than the McNeill book, with its selectivity, offers.

    I’m confused again about what you are attempting to say with the last quote. I’ve been pointing out that 20 early senate members where southern Conservatives loosely associated of Midleton’s policy of rejecting partition. Where did I suggest that they “formed in fours” and spoke with a single voice? Their one common characteristic was that they were southern Unionists who had realised that partition would be a disaster for Ireland, but when one researches them individually there are many proposals which individuals put forward personally and many disagreements evident in how individual southern Unionists approached this.

    And it’s not in any way a “boast” (strange way of thinking about it!) regarding the status of Alvin Jackson, simply the generally accepted opinion within Irish historiography!

  • Alan N/Ards

    Many thanks.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you Alan.

  • Hugh Davison

    I think there’s a whole big discussion waiting to be started about the point of religion in human existence, and I’m not going to be the one to start it. No thanks:)

  • Katyusha

    I’d agree with you, JR. Indeed people from NI are as British as anyone from England, Scotland or Wales.

    I think this comes from an effort to try and apply historical definitions to our modern society, when the meaning of words has changed over time.
    Historically British referred to Great Britain and Irish to Ireland and I can’t see any of the old Anglo-Irish ascendancy describing themselves as “British”. Of course language changes over time and “Britishness” has become both a national identity and become intertwined with the UK as a whole. What applied in the 19th century doesn’t have much relevance to today, although it would be interesting to determine when exactly this shift took place.

    I think its a mistake to colour the population of NI into two distinct and irreconcilable tribes, when in the past we were one people with many shades of religious persuasion and political views. The efforts of the NI Government and the fallout from the Troubles has left our people more divided than they naturally should be.

    Parts of the unionist community always strike me as a people in search of an identity. The wholesale rejection of their Irish identity has left a void which is difficult to fill, and this new ethnic British identity appears to fit the bill for a lot if people.
    It does strike me as rather empty and very different to how I view my own status as a British citizen and British identity generally, but it’s a matter for individuals.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Alan, another important book:

    It is quite easily obtained from libraries, so don’t be discouraged by the price. It is a very, very detailed analysis of the last attempt by the IPP and Southern Unionism to avoid partition and ensure an inclusivist, secularist parliament for the whole island. The book helps explain what the actual disagreements were and just how much of a problem the financial matters actually proved. Comparing it with Lord Cushendun’s book on the Convention (“Ulster’s Stand for Union”) clearly shows just how seriously partizan his work actually is.