NI’s secular pluralist history…

John Laird compares the historic attitudes of the Northern and Southern states, and notes “that the Government of Ireland Act of 1920 – under which the Stormont Parliament was set up – made any legislation passed by the new parliament illegal if it discriminated against anyone on religious grounds”. Arguing that the south has always been a cold house for Protestants and dissenters of any kind, he goes on to quote John A Costello, the taoiseach who rejected Noel Browne‘s political liberal and highly secular Mother and Child Scheme in 1951:

“I am an Irishman second; I am a Catholic first. If the Hierarchy give me direction with regard to Catholic social teaching or Catholic moral teaching, I accept without qualification in all respects the teaching of the Hierarchy and the Church to which I belong.”

  • Snowie of Belfast

    Lord Laird have forgotten that the Republic have moved on since then – its true that the South was just an annexe of the Vatican State for a good while – but in the past 10-20 years, the Republic is a lot more seculur than it was.

    For instance, Turkey is meant to be a secular state yet a Muslim nation – will we see Lord Laird attacking Turkey for being a Islamic state or what?

    He have to let it go – now that he’s no longer significant, he’s looking for some more attention – and self-importance…he just reminds me of my gay mates in the closet who denies that they are gay – we know Lord Laird is Irish, liking it or not – he will be happier once he encounter and nourish his Irish nationality…and have a bigger say in how Ulster/Irish Protestants can play a role in the development of the Republic – why else is there an orange thingy on the Tricolour???

  • Ah it was all going so well before “he just reminds me” snowie. Nice try.

    I didn’t know about that clause in the GoI Act. I wonder if, in retrospect, some of the legislation passed at Stormont could have been challenged….

  • As far as I remember there were a number of efforts made to actually challenge legislation on that basis, but no way of activating that clause of the GoI Act could be found.

    (Of course, those were different days; now we have several decades of judicial reviews and challenges under the ECHR.)

  • Nathan

    Zzzzzzzzzz!!

  • tadhgin

    Form and substance: it is disingenous to compare a constitutional requirement with a statement of practice. A better comparison to Costello’s statement would be the infamous Protestant Parliement for a Protestant People.

  • Ringo

    Yawn.

    Does he ever have anything to say about anything practical? It is the political equivalent of 2 lads sitting in a bar spouting off about who’d win in a fight between a polar bear and a tiger.
    It is all froth and no substance – like other things he’s been involved in.

  • Ling

    The Republic may be getting better, but it still has a ways to go yet in terms of throwing off the Catholic Church and becoming a proper modern secular state.

    Whlie people may say Laird should not bee looking at how Catholic Ireland used to be, all in the past and all that, they should really take note of that advice themselves as it’s no different from the “800 years”, “Stormont was evil” arguments. Take it as an opportunity to look at yourselves in the mirror.

  • tadhgin

    straight back again…

    I missed Laird’s statement that:

    The position, which any lawyer knows, is that Stormont was not and could not have been sectarian.

    The mind boggles at such stupidity! His answer to Nationalist perceptions of sectarianism is to say ask a lawyer. Maybe they should all have wished for ponies too.

  • Michael Shilliday

    The restriction of the local government franchise affected more working class protestants than Catholics! Stormont never passed any sectarain legislation.

  • Brian Boru

    Of course Stormont was sectarian. Members of the police beat up Civil Rights protesters in the 1960’s, while UDR members murdered members of the Miami Showband, and even crossed the border to kill Seamus Ludlow in Co.Louth. In 1934 Lord Craigavon is quoted as having said: “We have the Orange Order, the Black Brethren and the B-Specials and they constitute all the fascism that Ulster wants.”. He was just telling the truth I guess, considering the Kristallnacht style violence against Catholics and their homes and businesses by Loyalist mobs and the security forces.

    The electoral system was rigged against Catholics, through the rule banning people who lived with their parents from voting, the abolition of Proportional-Representation after Unionists lost control of Derry Corporation, and the allotting of up to 7 votes each to businesses, most of which were Unionists. Terence O’Neill had to resign for removing the stupid rate-payers rule in 1965, demonstrating how hostile the Northern statelet was to its minority community. They had to be kept down, and anyone promoting greater equality was a “Lundy”. I would have felt so ‘welcome’ if I were a Northern Catholic.

    Lord Laird conveniently ignores the removal of the ban on divorce (1995), the ban on contraception (1985), the references of the special place of the Catholic church (1972), and the ban on homosexuality (1994). Reading what he has to say you could easily be forgiven for thinking none of this has happened, which makes this – together with his ludicrous claim that Stormont was not sectarian – extremely misleading.

  • Brian Boru

    “The restriction of the local government franchise affected more working class protestants than Catholics! Stormont never passed any sectarain legislation. ”

    Wrong. If it were true there wouldn’t have been so much opposition to repealing it from within Unionism and O’Neill would have held on to the PM’s job. The Civil Rights Campaign demanded “One Man One Vote”. Clearly it affected Catholics proportionately more.

    The abolition of Proportional-Representation for both Stormont and local-elections was also sectarian, since the Government of Ireland Act had said that PR was the method of elections for both parts of the island. This system had been intended to protect minorities, but the Unionists scrapped it.

    Referring to how much the Catholic population has risen while the Southern Protestant population has declined and trying to make inferences regarding sectarianism from that is inappropriate. Protestants were 8% in the South in 1921, and it took 40 years for them to fall to 4.5%, indicating a gradual decline caused mainly by intermarriage with the Catholic Church’s Ne Temere Decree ensuring the resultant children would be Catholic. In modern, far more secular Ireland, the people no longer obey these silly rules, and we have seen since 1994 a considerable rise in the Protestant population, due to a mixture of people ignoring this rule, people converting to Protestantism and immigration.

    The population of Ireland rose from 5 million in 1800 to 9 million in 1846. Does this mean the Irish people were well treated by the British? I think not!

  • Lafcadio

    I think a polar bear would win

  • Brian Boru

    “The Republic may be getting better, but it still has a ways to go yet in terms of throwing off the Catholic Church and becoming a proper modern secular state.”

    Well the fact that we don’t have a State religion and a rule barring members of a particular religion from being Head of State would count in our favour compared to certain other countries. Ahem. 😉

  • Fraggle

    The polar bear would win easily.

    How about a polar bear and a hippo. That one’s a bit harder to call.

  • fair_deal

    1. The limitation of the constituional protection to legislation meant that questionable practices could be gotten away with.
    2. “Stormont” is the blame hound and has entered the nationalist pantheon as the source of all evil it was actually at local government level were the substantive abuses took place – outside of the remit of the constituional protection.
    3. Nationalists did not bother to use this constitutional protection to late 50’s early 60’s. As it was decisions not legislation they were fighting and the people taking the cases too remote from the case itself (ie not effected by the decision or nor a ratepayer etc) they failed.

    Tadghin

    “A better comparison to Costello’s statement would be the infamous Protestant Parliement for a Protestant People”

    Hmmm. You seem to be forgetting/or ignorant of/deliberately disingenuous that Craig’s quote was a direct response to southern nationalist description of their system as a Catholic parliament for a Catholic people.

    Brian Boru

    Stormont was prorogued on 24 March 1972. The Miami Showband murders happened in 1975 and Sean Ludlow in 1976. So they cannot be given as examples of Stormont’s sectarianism as it no longer existed.

    Also the lack of action of Sean Ludlow’s case lies with the RoI authorities not the then non-existent Stormont – the RoI authorities prefered to deny the Ludlow family justice so it could continue its acquiescence by inaction in the ongoing republican terrorist campaign.

    Can you provide the primary source for the Craig quote?

    The electoral system was rigged to screw everybody else Labour, other Unionist parties, local optionists not just nationalists.

    As for the weakening of the church maybe you can explain why Liz O’Donnell, a former cabinet minister recently made this attack on the CONTINUING influence of the Church on government:

    I hope it will change forever the special relationship that has existed for many decades between church and State. This report must be the starting point for the State’s response to all contained in it. But this new beginning cannot happen unless the old relationship ends. The unrelenting deference, which constituted the relations between church and State, must end. It was given for many decades and expected for many decades. This special deference and relationship was extremely influential in terms of outcome, and it must end. Only then can the State act as it should, which is objectively.

    The systemic failure outlined in the report means nothing less is acceptable…However, the church is neither democratic nor accountable. In many ways it is a secret organisation, with its own diplomatic service, civil service, laws and self-regulatory codes, which have all failed the public. Because the church in Ireland was the main interface with God, the Irish people and the State have shown deference personally and collectively over many decades. This veil of deference is the root cause of society’s failure to stop the church’s systemic maladministration and dereliction of duty to protect children as outlined in the report.

    The mighty church has fallen from grace because of its failure to protect children. The first response of the State must be to state unequivocally that the special relationship is no more and to take steps to demonstrate that disconnect between State and church. From now on, with that veil of deference removed, the State can deal with the church authorities in the same way as it would with any other voluntary or State agency that provides services for children and families. This means no longer accepting the bona fides or the good offices of an admittedly remorseful hierarchy after the event. The track record is such that we cannot accept that the church will be truthful or capable of self-regulation.

    This “no more Mr. Nice Guy” approach by the State means no longer countenancing the unhealthy enmeshing of the church in the secular layers of our society. It means no more consultation between church and State on IVF, abortion services, stem cell research, Ireland’s support for family planning in the Third World, contraception or supports for single mothers, adoption, homosexuality and civil marriage. In a democracy, all views can be articulated but the special relationship must be over. The deference must be over. The cosy phone calls from All Hallows to Government Buildings must end.

  • 9countyprovence

    The Republic envisioned by the boys of 1916 was not the Republic that eventually formed. This was so much so that it was given the nickname ‘dictionary Republic’ as Dev tried to define what kind of Republic it was. There is no doubt whatsoever that in the early decades of this states existence, laws were made to suit Canon law and left the Protestant population out in the cold. Wolfe-Tone would have been shocked.

    ArchBishop McQuaid was the worst offender. He tried to steer the country down a sectarian path to create a ‘Catholic Nirvana’.
    Nothing could be passed in government without going through him first. Unofficially, we had a system of government similar to Irans today.
    I truely detest the Roman Catholic Church and what it did to this country throughout history. The Pope invited Henery VIII in, it stifled creative thinking, it allowed the worst kinds of perversions to happen without thought nor care for those poor souls in which it was infilcted on;
    They tried to control every aspect of a persons life, right down to how they should f*ck! They USED Irelands place within the British Empire to spread Catholicism…I could go on but my fingers are getting sore.
    I think that this country has come a long way, especially within the last 20 years, but there is still more that could be done to create a truely secular society and to divorce church from state. Still the church has too much control of education for example.
    I may have had no choice in the matter when I was baptised at birth, but my kids, when the time comes, can make their own decision.

  • Michael Shilliday

    The electoral system was rigged to screw everybody else Labour, other Unionist parties, local optionists not just nationalists.

    Not nationalists at all!! It removal of PR in 1929 actually created two extra nationalist seats!

  • Ringo

    Hippo v Polar Bear ?

    In water or on dry land?

    As of the other complete waste of time of an argument – there is no denying the Catholic Church’s overwhelming and pervasive influence in almost every single facet of life. Neither is there any denying that the NI state was just as inbred and insular in its ideas and actions (in its own warped way), with religion being the great divider.

    Sure there were good things in both states, but honestly, who aside from Lord Laird and his ilk would want to live there – in either? And more to the point – we’ed be much happier crossing the border today rather than stay put and go back to the 50’s.

  • smcgiff

    Ah yes, another cerebral thread where one crowd throws insults at another crowd regarding their state’s religion relationship without admitting the connections/faults of their own side.

    Besides, every right thinking person knows that a tiger would easily whip a polar bear’s ass!

    Lets get down to a serious question. Should one open their egg on the top or bottom side (and if you have to ask which is which then you’re obviously an atheist)?

  • Alan

    A plague on both your houses.

    It’s about time we celebrated the courage and persistence of ordinary people who stood up to religious intolerance on both sides of the border, congratulated ourselves on the distance we have come in both jurisdictions, and started plotting further change in the future.

    For some truly good news check out

    http://www.ark.ac.uk/publications/updates/update41.pdf

  • Pete Baker

    Just in case anyone thinks we hadn’t noticed..

    a reduced role for religion in politics?

  • Lafcadio

    I reckon a polar bear would beat a hippo too, because seriously, what is a hippo going to do with it, apart from try to ram it with its big blunt head?? the bear would be able to dodge out of the way, and then hop on its back, and gradually wear it down…

    But I’ll discuss it in the pub, like Ringo said!

  • Brian Boru

    “The Pope invited Henery VIII in, it stifled creative thinking, it allowed the worst kinds of perversions to happen without thought nor care for those poor souls in which it was infilcted on; ”

    Henry II. What happened was that Dermot McMurrough, King of Leinster, was deposed by the High King of Ireland Rory O’Connor for kidnapping the daughter of Tiernan O’Rourke, the King of Breifne (Cavan). Dermot the traitor then went to England and invited the English in to help him get his throne back, with Strongbow (Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke) getting to inherit the throne. The (English) Pope then gave Henry II blessing to invade Ireland. I think we should have an annual “Burning of Dermot” festival like Guy Fawkes Night in England.

    “Can you provide the primary source for the Craig quote?”

    I read it in a letters page I believe in the Village Magazine. Here is the link: http://www.villagemagazine.ie/article.asp?sid=11&sud=59&aid=697

    On Liz O’Donnell’s remarks, part of it was probably intended to get the Liberal vote. Personally I presently intend voting for her party anyway as I like criticism of the Catholic Church because although nominally a Catholic, like most Catholics in the South we no longer accept orders from those clerics. Also, I think that what in particular she was alluding to in relation to the present-day situation, is one which also pertains in NI in the sense that under the settlement secured by Parnell (ironically the Protestant Home Rule leader) in the 19th century, the Catholic Church can manage their own schools, to the point of appointing and sacking teachers in those schools. The question is whether this should continue to be the case. I believe it should not. Of course, changing this in NI would be trickier than down here, given how it could be seen as victimisation of Catholics.

  • Michael

    I like the Phoniex mag view of LL as Lord Ludicrous.Another example of unionist leadership driving forward recklessly while concentrating 100% into the rear view mirror of irish history,and wondering how they have arrived at the current UUP car crash!
    Begone old man with mouldy auld views and give us something new,UUP,or have you reconciled yourselves to council politics for the next 100 years!
    Phew!

  • darth rumsfeld

    “Can you provide the primary source for the Craig quote?”

    I read it in a letters page I believe in the Village Magazine.

    Hmmm- a quotation that would no doubt have featured in just about every MOPE history of the 50 years of misrule, and surprisingly I have never read it either. So large dollops of doubt there.

    Brian, a primary source, just so you know, is the source itself, not any unsourced letter from a correspondent on a rant. Where did he say this? When? To whom? Run along and find out before being so free with your “quotation”.

    “Of course, changing this in NI would be trickier than down here, given how it could be seen as victimisation of Catholics. ” !!!!!!!!!!!!

    So help me through this Brian. Something is objectively wrong in your state, but OK for us because… well just because you don’t want to have to listen to the ritualistic gurning and MOPEry really- no least because you might be forced to join in! A bit like that one about no Shinners in our Government no nay never no sirree, but you lot can’t a government without them. How partitionist of you!

    Why not do your co-religionists a favour and help them to grow up politically. A good start would be to set an example of not trotting out questionable ancient quotations to support your case- and yes that goes for Laird Lord too

  • Hippos have great, nasty teeth.