Europe should learn from Williamite settlement?

If About You has ruffled a few political feathers it is also doing something that seemed previously implausible: bring Brussels to life in Northern Ireland. It cover all the MEP’s reactions to the recent referenda, but this piece from Jim Allister the DUP’s man over in Brussels who used the Dutch firm rejection of the European Constitution to inject a piece of Protestant constitutional history bears repetition:

“I must finally comment that it is not the first time Holland has saved Europe from political tyranny.This very week, in the notable year of 1690, William Prince of Orange landed at Carrickfergus in my country and brought us the Glorious Revolution and Williamite Settlement which till this day is the basis of the freedoms which the British nation jealously guards against destruction, whether at the hands of an EU Constitution or otherwise.”

We’re not entirely sure that’s a message that will be seen in the same shared light across Northern Irish society!

  • ballymichael

    Hmm. Congragulating France, then reminding of an occasion where french troops were defeated by dutch, danish, and german troops.

    Oh and there were a few irish and english on both of the river boyne as well of course.

    Still, a bit of diplomatic foot-in-mouth in a european context does no harm. It’s a british tradition by now.

  • ballymichael

    “Williamite Settlement which till this day is the basis of the freedoms which the British nation jealously guards against destruction”

    *cough* Penal Laws! *cough*

    Sorry, just clearing my throat there.

  • bootman

    Allister at his completely relevant and not-at-all parochial best!

  • Dessertspoon

    Was he wearing an orange sash, bowler hat and dancing to the tune of a flute band at the time too???

    Is it any wonder NI politicians are so poorly regarded (by everyone but themselves of course). As if anyone in the EU Parliament gives a toss about King Billy. I suppose Babs could have been in that day so he just wanted to get in a little dig.

  • DCB

    there should be an award for how quickly and imaginativly our politicans can relate any internatinal event back to our own wee problems

  • willowfield


    The last penal law was repealed 176 years ago.

  • willowfield

    A bit extreme to describe the draft EU constitution as “tyranny”!

  • Davros

    It’s worth remembering that the Penal laws weren’t part of the Williamite settlement.

  • aquifer

    Rentaprince William was an interesting character. Son of a freedom fighter father who wrested Holland from the spanish and was one of the first political leaders to be assassinated by gunshot. Billy introduced banking into England, laying the foundation for mercantile expansion. Seems to have been liberal enough himself for the time, and his elite Dutch Blue Guards were catholic.

  • barney

    “This very week, in the notable year of 1690, William Prince of Orange landed at Carrickfergus in my country and brought us the Glorious Revolution and Williamite Settlement which till this day is the basis of the freedoms which the British nation jealously guards against destruction, whether at the hands of an EU Constitution or otherwise”.

    One of those “freedoms” was the ability to introduce the glorious Penal Laws. Europe is not quite ready for a similar settlement today. In fact, this is just the sort of “freedom” the EU is anxious to destroy forever. Well spotted Jim, no wonder you’re a euro-sceptic.

  • martin

    I thought the Magna charta of 1215,a bit before wandering Willies time was the basis of the freedoms that the British nation jealously guards against destruction.

  • George

    The Williamite settlement allowed Catholics to keep their arms. Is this the freedom Jim Allister is talking about?

    Eureka! The decommissioning issue has been solved.

    true Williamite settlement of 1791 lasted a full four years before the treaty was broken and the anti-Catholic penal laws introduced.

    Do you believe Jim thinks that in these four years the basis of British “freedom” was built?

    I think it is more likely that he includes the penal laws: banning of Catholics from holding land, being educated in their religion, bearing arms, learn how to make arms, have a horse worth more than five quid etc. Oh and let’s not forget double taxation for papists.

  • ballymichael


    yes, they were repealed gradually, with much genuinely stirring political rhetoric about how they were an offensive infringement of liberty. Mostly repealed by protestants around Henry Grattan, be it noted.

    So presumably some of the things that came in with the williamite settlement weren’t “the basis of freedoms which the british nation jealously guards …”



    1691 – 1695. On a narrow point, you’re quite right. The Treaty of Limerick apparently included guarantees of religious toleration.

    But the guarantees didn’t hold. So putting the treaty and the penal laws together seems close enough for me and the general notion of irish history I think!

  • Paul

    Sorry Willowfield, but the last penal laws were not phased out 176 years ago. In fact, some of them are still on the statute books, e.g., Catholics still barred from being monarch or monarch’s spouse.

  • Paul

    Also, I can’t remember what the office was, but some years ago the former Conservative MP Chris Patten was offered a job. It was then discovered that he was barred from taking it up because he’s Catholic! As a result, this holdover from the penal laws had to be repealed with some speed to permit him taking the post.

  • ballymichael


    including the Act of Settlement (designed to stop a catholic becoming head of the church of england / ireland / monarch) into the Penal Laws seems strange.

    Particularly if you’re a republican (with-a-small-r, in the british sense).

    The former act effects a few sloane rangers and foreign royalty. Who cares about it other than ardent monarchists? The latter was designed for social engineering on a wide scale.

    It’s chalk and cheese.

  • martin

    there is a direct decendant of Bonnie prince Charlie working in Edinburogh library,if the act of settlement was abandoned could he contest that he is the rightful king of not only Scotland but all of Britan.

    under the declaration of arboth the Scottish parliaments up to 1707 Act of union had the right to choose their own king,what would happen if the Scottish Nationalist party became a majority in the Scottish assembly and declared prince Michael Alexander Stuart as the king of Scotland–it would make things very difficult for our own Ulster Scots for a start.

  • D’Oracle

    If the gentleman’s interesting theory that two no votes in various countries have indeed saved Europe from tyranny/all Britain holds dear -and who is a humble blogger to quarrel with the profundity of insight of such a sublime cerebrum then surely this cunning stunt was first done by France and only second by the Nederlanden.

    This, quite naturally, then raises the issue of which amazingly appropriate French historical echo of parochial relevance this links to.


  • ballymichael

    appropriate french historical echo of parochial relevance. Hmm. How about …

    It was on the Belfast mountains I heard a maid complain

    And she vexed the sweet June evening with her heart-broken strain,

    Saying “Woe is me, life’s anguish is more than I can dree,

    Since Henry Joy McCracken died on the gallows tree.

  • D’Oracle

    Fair-enough .. but wheres the French bit ?

  • ballymichael

    United Irishmen support from France, Bantry Bay, the year of the french and all that.

  • Millie

    I do believe parliamentary democracy caught on from the Glorious Revolution and is now the norm in every European country. He’s a very cleaver chap this Allister.

  • martin


    you dont go down south much do you—not much democracy-parliamentary or otherwise—plenty of powerbroking cartels and back room shady deals though

  • Millie

    yes martin that’s what parliamentary democracy basically is. and give the republic a break they’ve only been at it for 80 odd yrs, plenty of time for them to refine the subtleties of their corruption. and speaking of democracy it’s ironic jim allister is representing a place that has experienced nothing but direct (i.e. colonial) rule for the best part of 30 yrs.