Why I [Almost] Stand With Squinter

The Andersonstown News’ Robin Livingstone-aka-Squinter put the cat among the pigeons with a tweet attacking Fr Martin Magill for his piercing criticism of the DUP and Sinn Féin leaders at Lyra McKee’s funeral. His claim that the leaders of our two largest political parties are “unwitting women” was ridiculous, but I agree that Magill’s intervention was problematic; in particular, it obscures the key role Loyalist paramilitaries played in collapsing the January 2018 agreement between Sinn Féin and the DUP. Ironically …

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Paisley: Relic of the Past or Harbinger of the Future?

I recently chanced upon this 1987 review by Charles Townshend in the LRB of Steve Bruce’s God Save Ulster: The Religion and Politics of Paisleyism. It now reads as a fascinating period piece. Just the previous month, Paisley had performed the first of his major protests at the European Parliament, heckling Margaret Thatcher. She was congratulating the EEC on its expansion to Spain and Portugal when he stood up, brandishing an ‘Ulster Says No’ poster, and shouted, “I would like …

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#Indyref and the Orange demonstration: some quick notes

With the actual poll looming, this weekend sees the Orange Order make its on-street intervention into the #Indyref debate in Scotland. What will add an extra dimension to this is keeping an eye on how the media deal with events on the day, since, as Kilsally points out, #Indyref has created some unusual bedfellows. The last few days have given a couple of stand out media moments of the campaign. At a wider level, Nick Robinson’s reporting yesterday was astonishing, not …

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“The Conclave is very much a struggle for the institutional heart of the Church”

No white smoke yet White smoke from the papal conclave.  The successor to Benedict XVI will need the support of two thirds of the 115 cardinals present – the Guardian is live-blogging events.  And, as the BBC Europe editor Gavin Hewitt reminds us, the choice is not the one some might wish it to be.  From Gavin Hewitt During Monday afternoon one of the most powerful brokers in the Vatican hierarchy returned to the sensitive subject of the Vatican Bank. Cardinal …

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Home Rule, Rome Rule and Gay Marriage

Last September, Unionists paraded in their tens of thousands through Belfast to celebrate the centenary of the Ulster Covenant. From the days of Lilibullero in the 17th Century, Ulster Protestantism has always had a particular genius for summing up its political causes in easily remembered ditties and catchphrases. Perhaps the easiest slogan to remember of all from that era is “Home Rule is Rome Rule”. That encapsulated the fears that Irish self-government would inevitably lead to a clericalised, priest-ridden state. …

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The withering of Irish Catholicism sees Sunday attendance plummet in the cities…

It seems that Catholicism is on the wane in what were once urban strongholds. Maeve Connolly has a big front page splash on the front of the Irish News today on regular Mass attendances of just 4% in Poleglass. Holy Family in north Belfast is just bringing 17% of the local Catholic population. Dublin Archdiocese – with its huge churches designed for another age, and which struggles financially with their up keep – pulls in a mere 14%. Beyond the …

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To Benedict, we Irish liberals are not going away you know…

Father Kevin Hegarty in the Irish Times fights back against Benedict’s contemporary, counter Reformation: There is a tendency of conservative church commentators to argue that liberal clerics are an ageing, disgruntled minority who have turned their misinterpretations of the Second Vatican Council into a kind of holy writ. To them we are castaways on a remote island, brazenly holding aloft the tattered banners of the 1960s. They won’t like this but I have to disillusion them. Anecdotal evidence, coupled with …

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British monarchy under threat of being opened up to [Roman] Catholics

It looks like we could be in for yet another installment of false rage now the DUP has endorsed a shared (sic) future platform. The Telegraph is reporting that the political and constitutional reform committee have said that: “The scenario does beg the question of whether it remains appropriate for the monarch to be required to be in communion with the Church of England. “The most obvious difficulty in having a Catholic monarch — beyond the purely statutory obstacles — is the crown’s role as supreme governor of the …

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