'The Battle for Northern Ireland' by W. Martin Smyth
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The following pamphlet was published by Martin Smyth in 1971. The views expressed in this pamphlet do not necessarily reflect the views of the members of the CAIN Project. The CAIN Project would welcome other material which meets our guidelines for contributions.
for Northern Ireland
In thankfulness to Almighty God for His constant
THE CLAMOUR IS RAGING FOR A UNITED IRELAND. Starry-eyed Nationalists see it as the realisation of their dreams. War-weary politicians snatch at it as the way of survival. Grasping industrialists believe it could open up the way to an expanding economy. Even John Citizen is mesmerised into seeing it as the door of hope.
It might be a fulfilment of Nationalists’ dreams. It is nor based upon historic fact but on Republican fantasy. The only time Ireland was politically united was under the British, and Gaels are not Republicans but Royalists.
The manipulating hand of Romanism can he seen altering the course of a nation’s life to suit her own imperialistic ideas. From the time Pope Adrian IV granted Ireland to Henry II of England, on condition that he subjugated the ancient Celtic Church to the See of Rome, until now, the Church of Rome has misled the people.
This is why ordinary people are so confused. On the one hand they hear a priest denouncing the I.R.A. and on the other they see the Church granting not only consolation to the bereaved but her complete services to the burial of the allegedly excommunicated person without any apparent evidence of or even time for repentance.
The cleavage is so obvious that Dr. Garret Fitzgerald, the Fine Gael spokesman on education, at the Seminar of the Irish Priests’ Association in Maynooth, attacked priests for their ambiguous statements.
‘Priests who have seemed to condone sectarian murder and Priests who denounce the evil of internment without trial in Northern Ireland without, at the same time, denouncing the acts which have provoked such internment, no doubt believe that they are acting in solidarity with an oppressed group - the minority - but such solidarity is selective and therefore chauvinistic.’
He added, ‘If sympathy is withheld from these victims because they arc mostly Protestants, this is sectarianism, not Christianity. If it is withheld for reasons of solidarity with one group of Irish people against another, this is politics, not religion.’ Significantly enough. he identified the Church closer with the trigger-happy. bomb-drunk Provisional I.R.A. rather than the extreme socialistic or communistic official I.R.A.
‘If once you have paid the Dane-geld
Even the aftermath of the treaty which set up the Irish Free State showed that the only way to deal with the gunman is either to conquer or be conquered. Michael Collins is an Irish martyr. But martyred by his own people because he did not do all they wanted.
For all those industrialists and businessmen who think reunion will lead to economic prosperity, a little more market research is necessary. In spite of the feather bedding of the Eire economy (estimated at some £50,000,000 annually) by maligned British governments, the gulf between North and South became unbridgeable. The anarchist campaign from 1968 just had to happen or there would have been no prospect of Northern Irish people wanting to join the backward South.
The facts speak for themselves. In 1968 Northern exports were £600 million compared with those from the Republic, almost double the size, at £300 million. Total trade showed a steady growth:
This last figure in itself gives the people’s answer. In spite of the anarchist and gunman, ‘We will not be moved’. The worker continues to ‘build up for a prosperous future. He has no intention of marching back with Eire.
The sheer facts of life, stripped of Irish folklore, and not misrepresented by Irish blarney, spell out the story of an Ulster independent of the rest of Ireland and closely twined now with the rest of the British people. The rose, the thistle, and the shamrock unite to give a sturdy, industrious, freedom-loving people of the North. Generally they have no wish to unite with the South, where many of its own citizens have obviously no desire to live.
COMPARE THE DEVELOPMENT OF POPULATION:
Thus there has been a steady increase in the North while that of the Republic has dramatically decreased. It is claimed that this decrease has now halted, but if so, it has been at a time of industrial recession in England, and has been paralleled by an immense rise in unemployment.But religiously, it has been even more startling. It has been asserted that there has been no discrimination in the South against Protestants and this has been the backcloth against which the alleged ill-treatment of and discrimination against Roman Catholics in the North has been painted. Admitting there are various ways of choking a cat, it does seem strange to see a marked decrease of Protestants in the Republic and a clear increase of Roman Catholics in the North.
In the 1966 census there was no question regarding religious affiliation.
Why the decline in the South? From the beginning there has been steady pressure upon and outright terrorisation of the Protestant. From the earlier period in 1921 one woman vividly remembers that, as a small girl, the family had to return to Belfast because the priest had announced in chapel there was to be no food supplied to Northern Protestants in Dublin and no extras given to others lest they should help their co-religionists in the spirit of Christ. More recently there was the celebrated boycott at Fethard on Sea when Protestants were ostracised because a citizen changed faith and became a Protestant.
Still today they suffer as Protestants. Some of us have waited in vain for a public announcement from a Cork cleric who was ashamed to call himself a Protestant because of alleged wrong acts in the name of Protestantism in 1969. But he has been strangely silent when his ‘kindly neighbours’ have burned out Protestants - even in Co. Cork. He ought also to have learnt of the retired British colonel murdered, not to mention repeated burnings and attacks on Protestant property in Donegal and elsewhere.
Read an extract of a letter from a Southern Protestant:
Naturally, with one or two noted exceptions through drift of population, Protestant churches have closed rather than new ones opened in the South.
BUT WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN THE NORTH? Certainly with the increase in the community and the movement to growth areas places of worship have been opened. The Roman Church has participated in this development. However, there is a difference. No Roman church has had to close in spite of all the claims of Protestant terrorism of the minority. The reverse can not be said.
Amazing as it is to see beautiful chapels built by people for whom it is alleged they are not allowed decent work or homes. It is more amazing to discover that the domineering Protestants are on the receiving end of terror.
Take a sample, apart from the many congregations struggling because their parishes have been upset by the gunman:
1. Jonesborough Presbyterian Church, Co. Down, burnt in July, 1969.
2. Donegall Road Methodist Church, Belfast, burnt in August,1969.
3. Luther, Church of Ireland, Whiterock, vandalised and deconsecrated in 1970 after one hundred years of witness.
4. Springfield Road Presbyterian, Belfast - a virile new church with a thriving Sunday School closed in 1970. In spite of the community leadership by its minister, Rev. Cecil Courtney, its parish was steadily taken over by Republicans and the large Protestant community, inadequately protected, had to flee to other parts.
5. Salvation Army Goodwill Centre, off Roden Street, Belfast, closed and members ordered out by I.R.A. gunmen in summer, 1971.
6. Aldersgate Methodist Youth Centre, Belfast, damaged by bomb 1971.
7. Cliftonpark and Antrim Road Baptist Churches, Belfast, damaged by bomb blast in 1971.
8. Dublin Road, Belfast. Salvation Army Citadel destroyed and a member killed as result of burning of adjoining warehouse in December, 1971.
9. Dromore (Co. Tyrone) Parish Hall destroyed in January,1972.
10. Spamount Congregational Church, Belfast, severely vandalised.
Other property, including the tent used by the Free Presbyterian Church, has been destroyed or badly damaged. One or two minor incidents have happened at Roman Catholic establishments. Despite the fact that in chapels, convents, schools and monasteries arms and ammunition have been found, no serious retaliatory action has occurred.
HOW THEN HAS IT HAPPENED that the world largely believes that Protestants have been the aggressors? Mainly because of a powerful propaganda machine. In this the British Broadcasting Corporation has been an unwitting tool, although some of its employees have not been guiltless.
The failure of Westminster and Stormont Governments to deal adequately with this and answer the charges has been deplorable.
Other agencies, with a degree of culpability, have also been involved. Responsibility must be placed at the door of Loyalist spokesmen and especially Unionist Members of Parliament. Partially because of an unwillingness to answer back and partially because of a directive that it was not their responsibility to deal with Southern politicians, they kept silent. In all honesty, it must be admitted that some were totally unsuited for the task.
Equally, loyalist people were responsible through their own frustration and anger at the deliberate misrepresentations in the mass media. As a result, they failed to be coherent in answering questions and often chased working journalists, cameramen, and reporters covering the news. These, of course, must admit some liability because they often pontificated upon and reported reaction to an incident without seeking to discover what had caused it.
But from the Civil Rights marches of 1968 the machine was at work. Members of Catholic Action manfully played their pan and used their positions in the press, radio, and TV to knock the Establishment of Protestant Ulster. The weight of International Romanism was brought forward, pressure groups were formed, and Ulster became a ‘Daniel in the Lions’ Den’. Nor only did the Government of the Irish Republic utilize their own embassies but also rushed Public Relations Officers from leading Irish industries and businesses to key cities throughout the world. The unholy trinity against Ulster was formed by international Communism and trendy Leftists. The so-called British Liberal had a new cause.
Some apparently independent writers took a leading part in the anti-Ulster publicity campaign. In Londonderry, the City Hotel became a mecca for journalists. They were helped tremendously by a lady columnist closely attached to Eamonn McCann, the noted Left Wing leader, and Gerry Fitt, the Republican Labour leader. But, of course, such reporting was unbiassed!
How unbiassed? When one considers complaints ignored, letters refused, and opportunities to reply denied, the Ulster Loyalist might be forgiven if he doubted the claim.
A well-known humanist, who prides himself on tolerance and fair play, has used his column to attack the Loyalist position. He even claimed to know who brutally murdered the three young Scottish soldiers and denied it was the I.R.A., with an implication that it had been done by loyalists. He has been strangely silent as subsequent events showed him to be wrong. Apology is a word foreign to his vocabulary.
Again, the enemies of Ulster demanded liberty under our laws to undermine the State. They exercised their liberty to refuse information or distort it. In their rules this is fair. But if any editor exercises responsibility on behalf of his country arid refuses to broadcast or print seditious material or revolutionary propaganda, this is censorship, even if it saves lives of security forces or civilians.
PERHAPS OUR GREATEST FAILURE has been our failure to live out seriously what we know to be true.
‘Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty;
From its inception Ulster took its position in the battle for liberty. That was why Craigavon coined the phrase, ‘A Protestant Parliament for a Protestant people’. This has never meant the sheer dominance over innocent Roman Catholic lambs of Protestant jackboot diplomacy. It did mean that the liberty for which Protestantism stands would be extended to all. Ulster had nothing in common with Spain, Colombia or Eire. In 1971, Dr. Noel Browne, a former Dublin health minister, who had suffered through the interference of the Roman Hierarchy in the affairs of state, said this, ‘The Northeners were right - "Home rule is Rome rule" ’. The Church has brandished the stick to government and parliament over contraception and other private moral questions and politicians yielded to the prelates.
We knew this, but so many forgot. Within Protestant and Loyalist ranks division developed. The personality cult grew and dissention became obvious. The ecumenical movement has been blamed by some but certainly changed attitudes became evident. Unionists were no longer united.
Protestantism developed a guilt complex. Church courts were joining in general confession of sin, with little reaction within the cloisters of Rome. Whilst some anti-ecumenists branded good men as guilty by association with the World Council of Churches, other good men were frightened they would be tainted if they associated with Protestant extremism in any way. If ecumenism and O'Neillism were anathema on one side, Paisleyism and even Orangeism were abomination on the other.
But Rome maintained her monolithic structure. She appeared one.
As ever, she compassed a wide variety of opinions and people, even though some were insignificant. Their presence did, however, give the impression of movement and tolerance. Yet it is noteworthy she did not move from her dogmatic position and few authoritative voices denounced violence. It was only when the monster began to turn on the master that voices began to be heard.
Thus Cardinal Conway maintained the traditional Roman viewpoint. When some Protestant and other liberal thinking in the Republic desired changes in the country’s laws affecting private morality, he calmly declared, ‘The minority must accept the majority viewpoint’. The same could not be said for Ulster. Here majority rule was out and he talked about ‘mathematical majority rule’ simply not working in a community of this kind. Led by the Cardinal, Ulster headed for unimpeded minority rule. Unembarrassed by their conflicting stand on Rhodesia, Labour and Liberal thinkers apparently lent support.
Like Communism, Roman Catholicism pleads for liberty under our laws but denies that liberty under theirs.
The Protestant Churches have sought to play their part in the community. Both North and South, ministers and members have done what they could. They have recognised lawful government. BUT THE ROMAN CHURCH HAS NOT. The State within the State became so obvious here. From 1925 invitations were given to the Roman Catholic Church to provide a chaplain to the Parliament. They did so belatedly in 1970 under mounting pressure. Neither have they paid the normal courtesy calls on Governor and Premier in Northern Ireland which their Protestant counterparts faithfully did in the Republic.
The 1971 census was used by priests for political capital. Unfortunately for them, it came before internment or they could have said they were using it as a protest against this also.
Was there a need for a guilt complex on the part of Protestantism? No.
If the Church of Rome and accordingly Roman Catholics suffer, they do so, not because of Protestant malice but Roman intransigence.
Proper participation has been the problem. Since the Church of Rome, the most sectarian of religious bodies, refused to recognise the state, bitter sectarianism entered into politics. Thus the Nationalists organised Catholic voting associations rather than constituency parties. Even bigoted Orangemen were broader in their politics demanding simply fidelity to the Union and loyalty to the State.
Let us take several areas of life and note something of what goes on. Amidst the strikes and unrest of 1971 it is interesting to note that Roman Catholic schoolteachers were doing something similar in 1921.
Although the Permanent Secretary, A. N. Bonaparte Wyse, was an able Roman Catholic, these teachers demanded that the provisional government of Eire should take over the administrating and financing of Catholic Education in Northern Ireland.
They even pledged themselves not to accept pay. This resolution soon melted!
In spite of such actions the Northern Ireland Government has been generous to a fault. They have penalised a fully integrated state system by subsidising a sectarian Roman system within the state. This has rarely been acknowledged and scarcely recognised abroad. On August 22, 1971, Bill Granger, columnist in the Los Angeles "Times", wrote, ‘The Catholics by choice attend a segregated school system run by their Church. This system receives almost no government assistance.’ This was so palpably false it is amazing that any reputable editor passed it or paper printed it.
The Minister of Education (Rt. Hon. Captain W. J. Long) sent the following reply:
‘An important feature of the education system in Northern Ireland is the large number of grant-aided voluntary schools, the vast majority of which (about 680) are under Roman Catholic management. The least assistance which these schools receive is 65 per cent. grant from the Government. This is against expenditure on school building alterations, external maintenance and equipment. In addition, local education authorities, which draw their revenue from rates and government funds, contribute 65 per cent. of the cost of heating, lighting, cleaning and internal maintenance.
‘OF THESE VOLENTARY SCHOOLS 524 have adopted what is known here as maintained status - that is, they have agreed that one-third membership of their management committees should be nominated by the local education authority to cover internal and external maintenance.
‘In all cases teachers’ salaries are met in full, and there is provision for text books, stationery, etc., without cost to either pupil or parent.
‘In the case of voluntary grammar schools - there are both Protestant and Roman Catholic schools in this category - capital expenditure is grant-aided by the Government at the rate of 65 per cent. or 80 per cent. in respect of those which have accepted public representatives on their board of governors.
‘Day by day costs are met largely from public funds through direct Government grant and scholarships awarded to pupils by the local education authorities.
‘In fact, the cost of providing and running Roman Catholic schools in Northern Ireland falls largely on public funds, the proportion being approximately 95 per cent.’
Few, if any other, countries in the world treat the Roman Church or any minority group so well. Not even the United Kingdom Parliament. But until this year Roman Catholic bishops forbade R.C. students from attending Trinity College, Dublin, as it would have been a "mortal sin" so to do.
The same was true in the hospital services. An efficient Health Service parallel to the rest of the United kingdom was introduced. Several Roman Catholic orders were integrated within it, but the Mater Infirmary in Belfast refused to enter. Over the years bitter controversy has raged around this, with the blame being unjustly apportioned to the Northern Ireland Government for not granting cash to the hospital.
But Rome has won again. And though the hospital is now entering the scheme it has done so in better terms than the other institutions, and the State - avowedly non-sectarian - openly supports sectarian teaching in this medical school.
The main areas of alleged mistreatment, however, are housing and jobs.
He would be a foolish person who contended that amongst imperfect people perfection could be found. We do not claim that Northern Ireland has not seen any injustice to either Roman Catholic or Protestant. We simply contend that, over the broad cans as, the Protestant people have bent over backwards to be fair and have indeed acted more harshly against their co-religionists.
Of course, the Cameron report will be held forth as proving that injustices did exist. At best, however, this report held there was a prima facie case made out by loud protestations. In point of fact, no clear investigation was made into particular points and the weakness of the Commission was that it heard unsworn evidence and there was no real opportunity for cross-examination. Because of this, some refused to give testimony and some held the report suspect.
The report should be examined along with the first report of the Ombudsman, an eminent English lawyer, appointed in the first instance by Westminster. and later asked by Stormont to do the same work. He stated that thirty-three complaints were investigated, of which thirty-one had no substance whatsoever, and the remainder were justified and remedied. These were not cases of maladministration but ‘administrative defects’. He reported:
‘I have not found a single instance of culpable action in the organs of central government.
‘The Province gets a good deal of criticism but my findings are testimony to the high quality of good administration at Stormont. This is greatly to the good of Northern Ireland.
‘As a result of this, I must say that the quality of administrative performance in the Northern Ireland ministries compares well with my experience of government departments in the United Kingdom.
The individual citizen frequently gets a better service from the Northern Ireland Ministry than he would get from a United Kingdom department in similar circumstances, owing to the caster access to central government.’
Even an analysis of Cameron shows he deals with seven out of seventy local councils and some of these were Nationalist - controlled.
Left with the legacy of old houses and harassed by economic depression in the twenties and thirties and beset by successive I.R.A. campaigns, Northern Ireland fought bravely on. As a result, instead of the Republican lament of fifty years’ Unionist misrule, there has been a steady progress towards prosperity. There is a better chance for a new house for the homeless or poorly housed in the Province than almost anywhere else in the world. So good has it been that local government and housing trust built in 1971 more than the target for the new Housing Executive this year. Yet this was to be the way forward!
There were built thirty-four housing units per thousand population in Northern Ireland over the last five years, compared with eighteen in the Republic. Two out of every five families have been rehoused here since the war, and the bulk of these have been Roman Catholic.
Since 1945, 58.21 per cent. of the Housing Trust units in Northern Ireland, with the exception of a small area in the heart of the Province, went to Roman Catholics who are one-third of the population.
Even in Londonderry, centre of most of the agitation and trouble, 88.5 per cent. went to Roman Catholics. Discrimination certainly! They demanded 100 per cent.
Professor Richard Rose, in his work, ‘Governing without Consensus: an Irish Perspective. has given us some independent conclusions based on research over some time. He writes, ‘Systematic discrimination cannot be found when patterns are examined in each of the six counties and two county boroughs, all controlled by Unionists. In five of eight instances, a larger proportion of Catholics than Protestants were living as subsidised tenants.’ Although an even proportion of each religion receiving a housing subsidy should leave the majority Protestant in Belfast, Derry City, Armagh and Tyrone, the majority in public housing were in fact Roman Catholics.
Sectarian bias was in the reverse. ‘The survey found no evidence of systematic discrimination against Catholics. The greatest bias appears to favour Catholics in that small pan of the population living in local authorities controlled by Catholic councillors.’
It is inevitable that individual cases can occur. But on the general charge over the whole Province - not guilty is the verdict.
When it comes to employment the cry is similar. If Protestants refuse to employ Roman Catholics the situation would be fraught with difficulties. In any community all parties combine to make a whole. But it is a simple fact that Protestant industry and enterprise built many of the industrial empires. Discontent and strife helped others to forsake the land. Londonderry is a striking example of the latter. Prior to 1968 one very large concern pulled out and recently, in spite of special efforts by the Londonderry Commission and the appropriate minister, a foreign firm refused to settle there.
Perhaps the reason why some Protestants are not happy in working with certain Roman Catholics has come out in these tragic days. Firms have been held to ransom as, for one reason or another, Roman Catholic employees have refused to work.
Ostensibly in an attempt to pressurise the Government they, in reality, were undermining the economy in difficult days.
But one other reason has become apparent - security. When Lord Hailsham, as Quinton Hogg, Shadow Home Secretary, visited Northern Ireland he read lectures to Unionists in Londonderry on the evil of discrimination. He was quietly asked had they no vetting processes in England, to which he happily admitted that they had on grounds of security. It was no real comfort to the loyalists of Londonderry that what was practised in London was not permitted there. The postal services and telephone links in the Maiden City were virtually controlled by Republicans. To have dismissed them would have been religious discrimination. To retain them was national suicide as police messages were relayed to the rebel forces.
The death of the Province and members of the security forces was more conducive to the English sense of fair play!
LEGAL AND POLICE SERVICES
Even in the Judiciary loyalists began to wonder whether the Crown had gone mad. Alleged ‘by the Republicans to be pro-loyalists and discriminatory against Romanists, a careful examination reveals something more sinister.
We do not condone any of the alleged or proven offences, but it is interesting to note savage sentences, up to seven years for those convicted as loyalists for throwing a petrol bomb in doubtful circumstances and those Republicans who received one year for clear cases of attacking troops, with petrol bombs. In another case a Protestant received nine years when an old revolver was found in an outside coal shed and Republicans found in possession received much lighter sentences. Recently a further stage has been taken in undermining authority where a magistrate dismisses cases when brought against those who do not pay rents in the civil disobedience campaign.
This campaign, sponsored by Civil Rights’ Associations and led by M.P.s of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, seeks by non-payment of rents and rates and other methods to bring down the system of government here. So as not to penalize other citizens and to see that social security payments were used for purposes for which they were intended, the Northern Ireland Government passed a ‘bill to use such money to pay arrears. This has caused annoyance, but greatest annoyance is felt by loyal citizens who are penalised when they see the courts apparently supporting anarchy.
There have been no known cases of priests protesting at this. The magistrate concerned was a Roman Catholic. Yes, Roman Catholics do hold high positions in the judiciary. The first Lord Chief Justice was one.
This was bad enough, but to heed the cries of the rebels and to disband the Ulster Special Constabulary and disarm the Royal Ulster Constabulary were acts of basest treachery.
These were never sectarian forces. The absence of Roman Catholics in any number was their choice, not that of the Constabulary. History repeats itself as Roman Catholics are being intimidated from joining the new Ulster Defence Regiment. Every effort - even to appointing a Roman Catholic as commander - has been made to entice them. Some have joined, but the majority have kept aloof.
We do not blame them. Already one of their number has been murdered by the I.R.A. before the eyes of his wife and children in his own house when he was off duty.
In 1921, one thousand places were reserved in the R.U.C. for Roman Catholics. They did not join at first and then complained they were not employed.
The same was true of the Ulster Special Constabulary. Writing to the editor of "The Observer" concerning a misrepresentation, Sir James Craig wrote:
‘I desire to inform you that there is no religious test in the Ulster Special Constabulary. I am glad to say that Roman Catholics have joined the Special Constabulary, and that that force deserves the greatest credit for the high discipline which it has maintained in spite of the greatest provocation and intimidation which have been specially directed against it by the lrish Republican Army. I regret to say that I have just heard that five members of the force have today been foully murdered in different parts of Ulster.’
THIS WAS THE FORCE which had been recruited initially by Whitehall in 1920 to maintain security in Northern Ireland. This was the force, so faithful to Monarch, Government and country which Her Majesty’s Government cast aside to appease the rebels. What a price to pay!
British homes are empty and hearts sad because of that decision. British troops, trained as specialists to defend the realm, are called upon to do police duties without either the training or the intimate knowledge of country and people that are needed.
It was too much to expect the English Labour Party; fighting for political survival, to see Ulster’s position since they relied heavily on the Irish Roman Catholic emigrant vote. Roy Hattersley, charged with responsibility for Defence as a Junior Labour Minister, has notoriously been anti-British here. He went so far in a Sunday paper as to accuse some Orangemen for blowing up ‘an almost sacred Orange statue’ to provoke other Orangemen to attack Roman Catholics. When challenged about this, he avoided the issue by suggesting - ’You are guilty, since you know what I meant.’ With all his inside knowledge he has not brought the perpetrators of this dastardly act to justice, but has smeared loyal Orangemen instead.
Mr Wilson joined the band and, with James Callaghan, sided with the rebels. The then Home Secretary was not even prepared - in his desperate attempt to bring the Roman Catholics with him - to have a toast at a formal dinner. The toast, ‘Her Majesty’, would have caused offence!
IN SPITE OF SUCH CRASS BETRAYAL the Ulster loyalist has stood firm. The attacks continue. The list of casualties is very high. Dead - police, soldiers, U.D.R., civilians. The latter includes Protestant civilians cut down by the assassin’s bomb and bullet or by a British soldier’s mistaken shot in a confused situation.
Did the Protestant people demonstrate? No. Rather, like Mrs. Jefferson, whose little girl Glynis’ life hung in the balance, and who sought the young soldier out to forgive him, they understood the terrible dilemma. Throughout the last dreadful years loyalists have had to pay the price of loyalty. Victimised, terrorised, intimidated, forsaken by their Government and leaders, they have not flinched in their loyalty.
Their peaceful parades have been banned in a political gambit to counter charges of discrimination over internment. But they did not react violently. Their leaders counselled restraint and patience.
Take the Dungiven affair. Ample warning was given of this Drumhead Service. Local Orangemen had foregone their rights to a ceremonial re-opening of their Orange Hall which had been bombed and their customary Twelfth Walk from it. But they demanded their right to parade to their Service through the village.
The first notice of a decision to stop them came in the local Roman Catholic parish magazine. The decision was taken by local security chiefs and Nationalist leaders. Three days later the ban was announced.
Since a similar ban had been imposed at Easter and flagrantly broken by Republicans both in Dungiven and The Loup without any court cases being held, local Orange leaders felt they had similar rights.
But no. Rebels have freedom. Loyalists have not. Sir Arthur Young, as Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, was able to congratulate Civil Rights’ leaders in Belfast for breaking the law peacefully. Not so, peaceful Orangemen.
There were ample troops available in Dungiven to make sure the ban was not broken. Far fewer would have seen the parade through peacefully. it was not to be Immediate action was taken to prevent the brethren moving in an orderly fashion from the Assembly field, to which they had been directed by security forces, to the place where the Service was to be held. Some dissidents from outside the Order had gathered to provoke a clash. Mercifully, the overwhelming numbers were not provoked though highly incensed. Despite attempts to make the Orange the scapegoats events have proved the contrary.
Even today there have been no cases against Republicans for a similar affair at Easter, but several loyalists have been before the courts. On Christmas Day itself Republicans were permitted not only to walk against a ban but also along the motorway against the law. We await the issue of this with interest.
Often it is alleged that one cannot be returned as a Unionist member for Stormont unless one is an Orangeman. It is a pity that this is not so or we would not be in the mess we are in today. It is a greater pity that because of the myth some have become Orangemen without deep Protestant convictions. The testing time has revealed them. It is interesting that out of the present Parliament, in addition to the Roman Catholics and lone Labour members, Messrs. Anderson, Bailie, Caldwell, Fitzsimons. Hall-Thompson, McConnell, McIvor, O’Neill, Simpson and Mrs. Dickson are not members of the Order. Even the redoubtable Dr. Paisley is not a member.
It is true that Orangemen tenaciously support the Union and that approximately 12 per cent. of the Unionist Council are Orange delegates. But Captain Terence O’Neill, the former Prime Minister, and Richard Ferguson, who resigned both from the Institution and later from Parliament, stated emphatically that they had never been unfairly influenced by either the Order or members of it.
When an objective history of the period is written unbiassed historians will record the steadiness and law-abiding characteristics of Orangemen. They have gone on to the streets to restrain frustrated Protestants from taking the law into their own hands. They have co-operated with the security forces as far as possible and generally have contributed to the stability which has kept commerce and industry going.
They have never minimised their loyalty to the crown and constitution. They have steadfastly stood h their Protestant convictions. They have entered into a worldwide concern about morality and evangelism. A few may have failed to live according to their teaching, and acted uncharitably or maliciously. Some, like other members of the Protestant community, may have lapsed from vital Christian commitment and discipleship. However, by and large, they have shown devotion and played a vital part in every aspect of public life. Ulster and the world would be the poorer without them and their Institution.
THE MAIN THRUST OF THIS BOOKLET lays great responsibility for the tragedy of Ulster upon the Roman Catholic Church. But many Roman Catholics have suffered with their Protestant fellow-citizens. In point of fact, they may have had a higher price to pay. Because of the undoubted duplicity of co-religionists who have been revealed as active members of the I.R.A., yet claiming to abhor it, many loyalists will not trust Roman Catholics. They will be loath to employ them, work with them or live with them. They have made themselves "second-class citizens".
They suffer further because of terror inflicted upon them. They must join the ‘bin-lid’ brigade of the Amazons who take to the streets against the British Army. At the whim of the local commander they must take part in all protests or efforts. The price they pay for refusal is social ostracism or even physical attacks on their homes or business property.
Rough justice is meted out by kangaroo courts. Favourite punishments are tarring and feathering, torture, maiming or the final sentence - shooting through the mouth. Strangely, little protest is made by the Roman Church when its members so suffer. In stark contrast, loud protests ring out when the security forces act rigorously against them!
A large proportion of dead and injured are Roman Catholic victims of the I.R.A. Sometimes death comes as God’s avenging hand on the perpetrators of evil, as in the case of three young Londonderry men killed in their car going to place a bomb. Sometimes they are the innocent victims of a wrongly-timed bomb which went off in the wrong place, as happened in McGurk's Public House, North Queen Street, Belfast. Some fifteen died there. On other occasions they have been murdered because they refused to subscribe to the funds. Two publicans are numbered with this group. Another group are those who are believed to have talked to the Army or police and are dealt with as ‘security risks’.
This is the ‘gallant army’ fighting for Irish liberty and Roman Catholicism. The dictate of the gun is their rule of law. During August, 1971, in an attempt to embarrass the Southern Government and to give the impression of persecuted people fleeing before the Protestants, the I.R.A. forced people to leave their homes and go to refugee camps in the South. But when supporters in America sent several tons of clothing they did not know where to send this - North or South - because they had quickly returned to Ulster to their good homes and social benefits.
These same Americans collected 160,000 dollars in April, 1971, to help. From all accounts this money was spent on arms.
These are the people that Senator Edward Kennedy would support. Only those with no conscience or memory could do so. Those who remember know the debt the free world owes to Ulster. They remember also Eire’s dastardly part (while claiming neutrality) in the second World War and Martha’s vineyard. Truth and righteousness must prevail.
These are the people that Southern politicians openly support, and Mr. Lynch’s Government refrains from controlling. Although claiming that the rising in the North is internal, he has failed to answer charges of harbouring fugitives from justice. He still has to explain how illegal organisations can operate openly with their headquarters in Gardiner Place or Kevin Street and give Press conferences.
Neil Blaney, a former Republican Cabinet Minister, sacked for his part in gun-running in the South, calls with undisguised hypocrisy for the surrendering of all legally held antis in the North and the withdrawing of British troops. He has yet to explain why he needs private weapons and why he lent them to insurgents in Ulster.
It is this Fascist movement that so many Republican politicians in the North support and the Roman Catholic Church sanctions through its offices.
THIS WAS CHURCHILL’s PHRASE as he rallied the people in the dark days at the beginning of the Great War. This is the resolve of Ulster loyalists in 1972. We will overcome.
The death toll is great. Assassination has become commonplace. Few people are safe. Yet a growing confidence becomes evident.
Many have suffered. Take a representative few. Mrs. Gaynor lost her leg as the result of an explosion as she was bringing her grandchild home from school. The murderers, who hide behind women and children, threw gelignite at schoolchildren!
Ernest Bates and ‘Joker’ Andrews are two of those who were sent into eternity whilst relaxing in a public bar. Police officers - unarmed by command of foolish politicians - were blown up or gunned down in the execution of their duty. Businessmen, like Andrew Jardine or public personages, like Senator Jack Barnhill, were shot in their own homes. Part-time R.U.C. reservists, like Boys’ Brigade Captain Raymond Denham and U.D.R. Sergeant Maynard Crawford, were murdered at work. The list is legion.
But Ulster fights on!
In March, 1971, the shipyard men spontaneously marched to demand stronger action and better security. In August of the same year this movement grew and some 25,000 rallied in Victoria Park, Belfast. But perhaps the most moving occasion was on 11th November. On that date James Callaghan and Anthony Wedgwood Benn decided to visit Northern Ireland and further unification of the Labour movement and the reunification of Ireland.
The Loyalist Association of Workers called for a token stoppage at 11 o’clock and wreath - laying ceremonies throughout the Province. The County Grand Orange Lodges of Antrim and Belfast supported them. Trade union officials, spokesmen for the Confederation of British Industries, the Royal British Legion and the Northern Ireland Government appealed to the workers to ignore the call.
The dramatic scenes at the City Hall, Belfast, were reminiscent of 1912. Similar scenes occurred throughout the Province. Tens of thousands gathered in Belfast. Housewives and workers, businessmen and professional people, ex-Servicemen and women, young and old, joined in the peaceful protest. The message began to get through to the British people and the world. Loyalist Ulster was awakening.
Earlier in September a Covenant was signed. Like the earlier Ulster Solemn League and Covenant, it explicitly set forth Ulster conviction. Unlike the earlier one, there had been no Province-wide speaking campaign. In contrast to the ‘I back O’Neill’ campaign there had been no heavily backed newspaper appeal and no Government finance, like that which brought about 20,000 signatures for the plea for sanity petition of ‘Protestant and Catholic Encounter’ and the ‘New Ulster Movement’.
Yet some 312,000 Northern Ireland citizens, the vast number being Protestant, but a substantial number Roman Catholics, signed the Covenant as printed on back cover.
Ulster Loyalists were on the move. Like their fathers, they were willing to live for, fight for, and if necessary die for Northern Ireland. They were determined to keep a free Province within the United Kingdom. Most were ready to go it alone if Britain turned away. One thing was certain - they would not unite with such a treacherous neighbour which had not kept any of the Treaties of the Twenties.
They would not allow themselves to be put in a position where politicians might sell or betray them.
Ulster would fight and Ulster would be right.
IS THE LAND TO BE TORN FOR EVER? Will peace never come? Just as in the war, Great Britain introduced internment, so in Ulster. Abhorrent as it is, it is the lesser of two evils. When the I.R.A. is defeated and violence cease then internment can be lifted. But let those who say internment must go before there can be peace read this extract from a letter from an ordinary working class woman in Belfast:
'...On a radio programme on January 11 the old cry of internment is bound to come up; may I say the "internees" are better off and safer than the peace-loving citizens.
'We are internees in our homes, afraid to go out at night, afraid to leave our own district, afraid to go into town to shop, afraid to visit relatives, afraid to take our children out shopping.
‘We are worse off now than when the second World War was on, even when the Germans were over our cities we knew then where the fear was coming from, but we still had freedom of going anywhere we wanted to, in our own country.’
Secondly, let the Church of Rome become a Church of the New Testament, at least recognise the State and encourage good citizenship amongst its members. From the ensuing goodwill new hope would emerge.
Let the Government proceed with a drive to improve the social conditions of the people. Perhaps an Invest in Ulster Victory Fund could be started. This would give needed capital to go forward.
Loyalists will need to be magnanimous in victory. They will require to be long-sighted and willing to co-operate with those whom they now naturally distrust. But they must always be vigilant. Political changes may be necessary, and can be carried out where there is trust.
Above all, we need to return to the living God. 'For God and Ulster’ must not be allowed to become a mere shibboleth. Loyalty to God and good citizenship are concomitants. They go together. We must learn again to walk with God, ‘our Help in Ages past’. We have been called a religious people, but tragically too few of us have been Christian.
A spiritual awakening is the basic essential. In the twenties God raised up W. P. Nicholson, the evangelist, to turn people to Himself. May He, in His mercy, visit us again. Thus the foundation for sound morality, good citizenship and honest politics would be laid.
This battle is the greatest one. The battle for individual lives. May it be won in each of us as we surrender to Christ, the Captain of our Salvation.
CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within Ulster University.
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