How it might have been (but wasn’t)

Another brilliant parody by Newton Emerson of Mary McAleese’s approval of the 1916 Rising. For our nationalist readers, here’s how it might have sounded if it had come from Buck House rather than the Aras:

The importation of 25,000 rifles by the UVF in 1914 is now recognised as the birth of unionism, writes Newton Emerson Queen Elizabeth has strongly defended the legacy of the UVF ahead of the 92nd anniversary of its historic gunrunning operation. “They were Northern Ireland’s idealistic and heroic founding fathers and mothers, your Davids to their Dáithís,” said the indefeasible sovereign yesterday.

The queen’s speech was cleared in advance by the British government, which hopes that the celebrations will reclaim the UVF’s reputation from present-day loyalism. Incidentally, the original UVF has no connection to the current UVF apart from its name, objectives, methods, philosophy, imagery, symbolism and politics.

And later, as she might have said:

“Some people cannot use the word ‘unionism’ without qualifying it by the word ‘narrow’,” said her majesty. “However it is the other lot who are narrow-minded – so there.” The queen added that many members of the UVF belonged to “an international Presbyterian brotherhood which brought them into wider contact with the world than even the most well-travelled papal nuncio.”

Those “out” in 1914 included Maj Fred Crawford, who organised the arms shipment; Bonar Law, who later became British prime minister; James Craig, who later became Northern Ireland’s first prime minister; and Sir Edward Carson, who went on to found the state. Addressing the first Stormont parliament in 1921, Sir Edward said: “From the outset let them see that the Catholic minority have nothing to fear from a Protestant majority.”

And finally:

They swore: “To stand by one another in defending, for ourselves and our children, our cherished position of equal citizenship in the United Kingdom.” Cherishing children equally is a unique aspect of British culture. “The apparent naivety of the words of the covenant and declaration has filled out into a widely-shared political philosophy of equality and social inclusion,” said her majesty. “Men, women, rich, poor, black, white – anyone could join, as long as they weren’t a Fenian.”

In recent years the celebration of Ulster Day has been largely the preserve of sectarian extremists; however, the queen believes that it is time for everyone else to isolate those extremists by celebrating Ulster Day right alongside them. “The UVF was opposed by the imperial British government of the day,” explained her majesty. “There is a tendency for powerful and pitiless elites to dismiss with damning labels those who oppose them. That was probably the source of the accusation that 1914 was an exclusive and sectarian enterprise.

“It was never that. Maj Fred Crawford’s friendship with the German arms dealer, Bruno Spiro, shows that the UVF was always an outward-looking internationalist movement.” Maj Crawford was awarded the CBE in 1921


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