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.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty