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.”

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