Survey was valid, but looking in wrong direction

Susan McKay has been sifting through the “Identifying the Protestant Community, its Needs and Perspectives”. Whilst she thinks the findings are sound but that the Republic faces more contemporary issues of discrimination and assimilation much further to the south of its northern border.

She also feels that some of the premise for the Protestant experience is overly apocalyptical:

The Protestant population in the Republic declined steeply after partition. When Ian Paisley called the Good Friday Agreement a “prelude to genocide”, he claimed that thousands of Protestants south of the border had already been “eliminated”. There were, in reality, no massacres. The Catholic Church’s “ne temere” decree, which forced couples in mixed marriages to swear to bring up their children as Catholics, must carry much of the blame. There is also its outrageous and ongoing domination of the Republic’s education system. The needs of minorities should be met, and their rights respected.

However, the idea that there is a distinct border Protestant community which needs to be cultivated as such, seems to me separatist and divisive. The border area has a great tradition of mixed marriages – how do those families fit into such a notion? They don’t. They are well integrated. The needs of Protestants who have moved in from Africa and elsewhere were not surveyed or discussed.

  • maca

    “the idea that there is a distinct border Protestant community which needs to be cultivated as such, seems to me separatist and divisive”

    This is the impression I have gotten from a number of people here. The last discussion we had on the Protestant community was a good example. There are some who seem to want to create divisions between protestants and catholics down south, while none of us here want that.

    Religion is like fast food, some people like Supermacs, some like McDonalds. While i’m partial to a McChicken meal once in a while I don’t feel that there exists any kind of ‘McDonalds eaters group’. Anyway, I nip into Supermacs once in a while too…

  • SFM

    Susan’s work is always good, and none better than the her book Northern Protestants, but she does seem to display a degree of ethnic self-loathing. Then again, that may not be much of a surprise for a educated modern Northern Protestant to feel. However she must ask herself is she regarded by some sections of southern Irish society as a handy back up for them to maintain their prejudice.
    I think I have read the above report if it is the recently released one on Southern border perspectives and have talked to the authors and some respondents. There were problems in the collection of the data exactly because it was not largely, if at all, collected in the manner outlined. Also the areas drawn upon in Susan’s article are far from the most prominent with the quotes used not ones not given any prominence.

  • fair_deal

    “There were, in reality, no massacres”

    Leaving aside what the term massacre can be legitimately applied to. During the Irish civil war there was a systematic campaign of threats, destruction of property and murders targetted at Protestants by the anti-treaty forces.

  • Mike

    “When Ian Paisley called the Good Friday Agreement a “prelude to genocide”, he claimed that thousands of Protestants south of the border had already been “eliminated”. There were, in reality, no massacres”

    Ms McKay seems to be wilfully ignoring the fact that Paisley wasn’t suggesting thousands of Protestants were massacred.

  • maca

    Mike
    “Ms McKay seems to be wilfully ignoring the fact that Paisley wasn’t suggesting thousands of Protestants were massacred”

    “prelude to genocide” “thousands … already eliminated”
    So what WAS he suggesting?

  • Ringo

    Fair_deal

    During the Irish civil war there was a systematic campaign of threats, destruction of property and murders targetted at Protestants by the anti-treaty forces

    Were Protestants the main targets of the anti-treaty forces? I could have sworn the bulk of the threats, destruction of property and murders carried out by the anti-treaty forces in the civil war were directed at Catholics?

    Why did you choose to mention the anti-treaty forces? Are you implying that the Free State Forces didn’t target Protestants? Why not? Kinda goes agains the old ‘Free Staters wiped out Prods’ argument that appears to have entered northern Protestant folklore.

    Maybe Collins bombed the 4 courts ’cause he thought it would be full of Protestant lawyers?

  • Jo

    One assumes, as Paisley is not a stupid man, that he fully intended his words to be taken as meeaning that the drop in Protestant population in the South was achieved through intimidation if not actual massacre.

    He would be as aware as most that his supporters would not have studied the period 1912-22 in any great depth (or selectively at best) and would probably not have any great empathy with their Irish Unionist as distinct from the Ulster Unionist brethren.

  • Diarmid Logan

    Instead of calling them Protestants why don’t we call them what they are — British colonists.

  • George

    Lionel Curtis, chief ideologist of the British Empire, writing early in 1921:

    “Protestants in the south (of Ireland) do not complain of persecution on sectarian grounds. If Protestant farmers are murdered, it is not by reason of their religion, but rather because they are under suspicion as Loyalist. The distinction is fine, but a real one.” (2003:170)

    Wondering if this is why it can be generally said that southern Irish Protestants don’t feel they were “eliminated” or “ethnically cleansed” while northern Irish Protestants think the opposite.

  • fair_deal

    Ringo

    From the historical evidence I have read the systematic sectarian attacks were by anti-treaty forces. From my recollection incidents with Free state forces couldn’t be described as sytematic (although it was members of the Free state Auxiliaries who engaged in cultural vandalism when they blew up Schomberg’s plinth).

    The criticism of the Free State government was its inability or unwillingness to prevent the attacks. There is the well known meeting where the head of the anglican Church asked if the free state government actually wanted any protestants in the new state (i think it is was Sean O’Higgins who was asked but I could be wortng on the name). The answer given was yes but little or no practical assistance followed.

    Where there other incidents going on at the same time? Yes e.g. the four courts but there were clearly two campaigns going on, a fight against the treaty/free state forces and sectarian purges.

  • George

    Fair_Deal,
    it was the Church of Ireland synod which sent a representative to Michael Collins in 1922 when the British military took down their flag from what today is Collins Barracks and left Dublin for good.

    As for practical assistance, considering the country was in a state of civil war I don’t know what more could have been done as Catholics were being killed by the thousand at the time but as 60% of the wealth of the country was still in the hands of Irish Protestants 40 years later, something obviously was done.

    I have never heard of an organised sectarian purge by Irish “pro-treaty” forces. Maybe you could be so good as to name one. Also, why do you not agree with Curtis who says attacks weren’t sectarian based?

    Personally, I agree with Irish war hero Tom Barry, who said that “bigotry was not confined to the Protestants for the ignorant and petty-minded Catholics had their fair share of this ancient curse”.

    It is interesting to note thought that in Barry’s West Cork, always cited as a place where Irish Protestants were given a particularly hard time, more Roman Catholics than Protestants were exposed and shot as informers/loyalists.

    Why would that be?

  • George

    Peter Hart’s book is often cited by Barnshee and other unionists as evidence that ethnic cleansing of Irish Protestants took place.

    Here are two later quotes from him that are usually ignored:

    “One key difference between North and south was that in the South it was not the Free State or the Catholic church that was responsible for anti-Protestant violence – they were largely blame free.”

  • George

    Second quote:

    “there was no ethnic cleansing in the Irish revolution … unionists had direct links to death squads, and people like Edward Carson encouraged the riots in the shipyards. Incidentally, I think that one of the big untold stories of this period is how Protestant churches behaved In the North – it’s not a pretty picture.”

  • Gonzo

    This research was funded by the Ulster Scots Agency, wasn’t it?

    Anyone have any idea why? Or why it funded research into Orangism in Africa?

    What on earth does any of this have to do with ‘Ulster Scots’?

  • fair_deal

    George

    Thank you for the information on the Synod.

    What is the source on the wealth statistic?

    As for the general whataboutery I made no attempt to claim sectarianism was the preserve of one side. I was highlighting an error in an article about the southern Protestant experience hence the limited nature of my comments.

  • fair_deal

    George

    Spotted a couple more points

    “I have never heard of an organised sectarian purge by Irish “pro-treaty” forces”

    I explicitly identified anti-treaty forces as behind the campaign and I did not claim pro-treaty forces organised a sectarian purge.

    I am under no obligation to agree with Curtis and take a look at the newspaper accounts in the Impartial Reporter for direct comments from victims on the motivation.

    The biggest lie a person ever tells is the lie that person tell themselves. The “I murdered him because of his politics not because of his religion” is the fine example of the self-deceiving lies the communities here have become good at telling themselves and each other.

    Gonzo

    Agree. Orangeism is worthy of research but Ulster-Scots is not its home. Unfortunately Trimble instructed Laird to push the Agency in that direction (as trimble wasn’t prepared to really go to bat on issues of concerning Orangeism) and Laird did as he was told – to the annoyance of more than a few in the Ulster-Scots field. It was one of the reasons why the Agency was not given the responsibility of establishing the Language Academy.

  • George

    The source for the wealth statistic is Northern Ireland – The Orange State, Michael Farrell fair_deal.

  • fair_deal

    Michael Farell LMFAO

  • fair_deal

    Geroge

    Excuse my manners, thank you for providing the source.