Echoes of the case against Home Rule in the paedophile scandal

I’m right up on tiptoes to make this point, but might the Protestant case against Home Rule not seem just a little more convincing even to its critics in the light of the great paedophile cover –up? If the Roman Catholic Church retained strong authoritarian traits and clerical privilege above the law as late as the 1990s what was it like a century before? Not that I ignore the beam in Protestant eyes. This article in the New York Times from 1892 is a great find. It criticises the great unionist constitution theorist Dicey as Gladstone was preparing his second Home Rule Bill. The argument in the article still holds good today, as it reminds us that Protestant opposition to Home Rule was far from monolithic. All the same, it was one of the great tragedies of our history that Protestant fears and reservations were never convincingly addressed. Could they ever have been throughout the period, I wonder? Fintan O’Toole’s great polemic last week reads in places like a Protestant tract – although he’s careful to state: “It is important to say that this is not a comment on the Catholic faith.”
Fintan continues:

This was the church’s great achievement in Ireland. It had so successfully disabled a society’s capacity to think for itself about right and wrong that it was the parents of an abused child, not the bishop who enabled that abuse, who were “quite apologetic”… It had managed to create a flock who, in the face of an outrageous violation of trust, would be more concerned about the abuser than about those he had abused and might abuse in the future. It had inserted its own “instrument of control and power” so deeply into the minds of the faithful that they could scarcely even feel angry about the perpetration of disgusting crimes on their own children.

Paul Bew , in this review of Alvin Jackson’s great history of Home Rule persuasively writes:

“An Irish History” is sympathetic to those nationalist politicians, such as William O’Brien, who attempted a genuine conciliation of Unionists. Of John Dillon, O’Brien’s principal opponent in the crucial 1903-16 period, Jackson writes: “Centrist politics had the capacity to maim and divide Dillon’s loyalist enemies. But he either wilfully neglected this helpful state of affairs or chose not to be impressed.” Instead, Dillon, who insisted on keeping constitutional nationalism as “green” and as militant as possible, lived to see the party eclipsed anyway by the rise of Sinn Fein. It is a lesson not without a sharp contemporary resonance”

  • Bing

    Home Rule for the island was all about buggering the Prods. When the Prods managed to escape that fate others within the ‘Free State’ became victims of Irish ‘freedom’ in the most personal and damaging way imaginable.

  • igor

    I dont agree with this analysis and think its much deeper than that and goes back to the very constitution of the Church.

    The Church sees itself as a supra-national body governed by the laws of God and the Church and not necessarily by the laws of whatever jurisdiction it priests happen to be in at the time. Canon law is seen as supreme and no-one in the secular domain has the right to interfere.

    Add that into a Catholic State for a Catholic People, close links between prelates and Senior Clergy and you create an atmosphere in which behaviours like this can be justified ‘in the common good’.

    The real question is why, when paedophile priests were caught, the Church just moved them to new parishes rather than taking more drastic action? On that level the abuse was almost seen as condoned.

    Or perhaps all the little sluts led the poor father astray

  • Panic, These Ones Likes It Up Em.

    Undoubtedly it was a tragedy that the catholic church had/possibly still has such a powerful influence in politics and life in general in Ireland. It is sad that the politicians that came after independence were so pliable or niave to give the catholic church so much influence.

    Perhaps those voices within republicanism that considered that there was unfinished business were not just referring to the six counties. Had the six counties been included in the settlement then the catholic churchs influence might have been reduced some what. I do not suppose that would have been much succour to Protestants though.

    Perhaps Protestants should also be wary of the influece that the close ties between church and state in Britain has. While it does not seem to be as malevolent an influence as the catholic church has been in Ireland do not be sure that all of any churchs influence is good.

  • Scaramoosh

    A dull, but insightful read (if one is prepared to read between the lines) is Keogh’s “Ireland and the Vatican.”

    Religion, nationalism, drink and money – the four horsemen of the Irish apocalypse.

  • Partition as it became was not the partition as intended. Civil war between Irishmen provided the foundations of the Republic as was eventually constituted. Expressions such as this http://sluggerotoole.com/index.php/weblog/comments/sean-fitzpatrick-and-those-establishment-fkers-aka-southern-protestants/ reflect a darker and more base instinct that lurks even in the most modern Ireland.

  • Ultonian

    folks from any reading of irish history and I would paarticularly recommend “Occasions of Sin” Diarmuid Ferriter, it’s as clear as day. The Catholic Church in ireland during the 20th Century had unbridled access to government, an unrestricted say over all aspects of legislation and were given undue influence in all aspects of Society. The most recent report only confirms the awful extent but every aspect of life seems to have been scrutinised, judged and pronounced on by the catholic church. IN matters temporal the Bishops made it clear they were in charge and elected governments should be subserviant to the demands of the church.

    The consequences have been terrible. The physical, sexual and mental torture of hundreds if not thousands of children, women were condemned to a life of servitude and society was run by a bunch of unelected, unmarried and in many cases unchristian – frustrated men.

    Amazingly this gives vindication to the unionist slogan “home rule means Rome rule” but sadly too many commentators and subsequent historians and politicians have written this warning off as sectarian rantings – maybe it wasn’t

  • for reference
  • bigchiefally

    Immediately post partion both sides became exactly the sort of places “the other lot” didnt want to be part of.

    The south became an insular, anti British, Catholic church run and Gaelic focused country. The north was a place where catholics were regularly discriminated against.

    If either country had made proper efforts to accomodate their minorities and make them feel more welcome then who knows the type of island we would have now.

  • Wilde Rover

    In truth, the unionists were right not to want to sign up to the Papist Free State. Perhaps if republicans in the 1920s had spent their time burning the houses of the Princes of Rome rather than the houses of erstwhile unionist politicians it wouldn’t have taken so long to throw off the ecclesiastical shackles.

  • FAO Brian,

    Quoted you in this (below). Can you e-mail me?

    Murphy report – Church and state guilty but don’t criminalise everyday life
    Mon 30 Nov, 2009
    The appalling abuse of children by Catholic priests should not be allowed to make children of us all, says Jason Walsh

    http://forth.ie/index.php/content/article/murphy_report_dont_criminalise/

  • Dread Cthulhu

    thedissenter: “Partition as it became was not the partition as intended.”

    Partition was the English and the Irish punting on whether or not to grasp the nettle of Protestant N.I. — an agreement to look at it “later.” It was maintained because no one could come up with their the stomach to grasp the nettle or the brains for a better idea, i.e. “later” never arrived.

    Wilde Rover: “In truth, the unionists were right not to want to sign up to the Papist Free State. Perhaps if republicans in the 1920s had spent their time burning the houses of the Princes of Rome rather than the houses of erstwhile unionist politicians it wouldn’t have taken so long to throw off the ecclesiastical shackles. ”

    Before you can drain a swamp, you have to address the mater of the snakes, gators and other more immediate problems. Frankly, the “erstwhile Unionist politicians” were seen as a more immediate threat.

  • … it was one of the great tragedies of our history that Protestant fears and reservations were never convincingly addressed.

    That’s one of the most blatant kite-flyings seen yet on Slugger.

    Parnell (30 Oct 1885), the only Protestant in the nationalist Parliamentary Party, explicitly included proportional Protestant representation in his proposals during the first Home Rule crisis: see appended document 5 in Alan O’Day’s Irish Home Rule. Since the nationalists of that time looked to find an accommodation between the Anglo-Irish Protestant gentry class and the nascent RC extra-urban bourgeoisie, the “Home Rule is Rome rule” slogan looks more like a negative unionist tactic than anything else.

    That gets its mention in Alan O’Day’s text remarkably adjacent to a citation to a certain Brian Walker [who he?].

    More analogous to Fintan O’Toole’s point (and what Brian Walker seeks to develop from it) might be to reconsider the great divorce issue of 1923. The starting point should be the position the Free State inherited. The assumption was that the Dáil would patriate a measure similar to that applying in England and Wales: petitioning through a private bill. Diarmaid Ferriter deals with this issue and related conflicts of a secular State and the churches adequately (page 339ff in my paperback), and nails Bishop Daniel Cohalan of Cork as the instigator of the sectarianism. I bet there’s a fuller treatment of this in Ferriter’s new one (which I really must get around to). In any case, it represents one of the earliest shows of political strength by the RC hierarchs.

  • ulsterfan

    Does anyone remember the book Maria Monk written about 120 years ago?
    The consensus of opinion suggested it was fictional but the latest evidence from Dublin surely suggests priests of the Catholic Church were indeed capable of the crimes described and perhaps we should re visit the evidence.
    The out cry throughout the world was even greater than the uproar of today’s scandal of child abuse in Ireland and in other places.
    Perhaps we don’t learn from the past. A sure recipe for failure.

  • John East Belfast

    Malcolm

    “Since the nationalists of that time looked to find an accommodation between the Anglo-Irish Protestant gentry class and the nascent RC extra-urban bourgeoisie, the “Home Rule is Rome rule” slogan looks more like a negative unionist tactic than anything else.”

    Not from where I am standing and although there may have been many Irish nationalists who may have had that view the issue is the Roman Catholic hierarchy had its own agenda and that is one, with hind sight, that clearly worked for them.

    The “Home Rule is Rome Rule” slogan was more about how Unionism viewed Rome not Irish Nationalism

  • Blue tomorrow

    Partition was a failure of both British and Irish policy. I can’t help thinking that if agreement had been reached on Ireland getting dominion status, with safeguards for the Protestant minority, we could have avoided the extremism in both parts of the island. The north would not have been ravaged by terrorism and the destruction of its industrial base. The south would also not have lost the industrial centre of the island, which was predominately in Belfast.

    One positive of the current downturn is that we are seeing more people travelling north to shop than for a generation. It is no longer a surprise to see large numbers of our neighbours travelling up to shop. The more we can get to know each other across this island,and realise that we actually have a lot in common, the better it will be for everyone.

  • Not from where John East Belfast @ 09:09 PM is standing. Indeed, which is a dozen and more decades of propaganda and indoctrination later.

    Any good Orangeman should be able to confirm that the motto originated with Deputy Grand Master William Johnston, MP, in 1871. Johnston achieved his few minutes of fame leading an armed Orange march into Bangor, thus receiving a month in quod, and his seat in Parliament at the next election. Hmmm: seems to set something of a pattern.

    Note that Johnston was outside the law: at that time the Roman Catholic hierarchy were stalwart supporters of the status quo: most famously (17 Feb 1867) David Moriarty, Bishop of Kerry, damned the Fenians: “eternity is not long enough, nor hell hot enough”. Most commentators agree, at that time, the hierarchy (taking the cue from Leo XIII) were conservative and profoundly suspicious of the activities of Protestant Home Rulers, as Butt and Parnell. The emerging Catholic middle class almost universally went along with this. In any event, any demands for Repeal and a distinct Irish political voice (e.g. that of 1868, which did have clerical support) were remarkably modest and unthreatening. By the 1890s, and the fall of Parnell, Home Rule was effectively off the agenda — any energy went into the cultural and sporting movements. That, of course, did not prevent the unionist propagandists, mainly English, from stirring the pot.

    The radical nationalist priest, that bugbear of the Orange Unionist, was invented as late as 1911. Fr John O’Doherty, the parish priest at Strabane, went on a public platform to support T.W.Russell, the Protestant Home Rule candidate for North Tyrone. He (unwisely? — and certainly without episcopal blessing) claimed that anyone voting Unionist was “recreant to his country” to be “held responsible at the day of Judgement”. Didn’t the Unionist love and publicise that one? It instantly featured in a pamphlet, Rome Rule in Ireland.