Posted By: February 16, 2024




Distributed to Congress by Irish National Caucus

“Supremacy—whether White supremacy in U.S. or British/ Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist supremacy in Northern Ireland—must be rejected by all decent people.”

—Fr. Sean McManus.

North is no longer a Protestant state with Protestant parliament

Well, up to a point. The worldview that Craig encouraged still lingers on in attitudes and assumptions.”

Brian Feeney. Irish News. Belfast. Friday, March 16, 2024

“WE ARE the people”, a unionist slogan you don’t hear these days, was the populist version of James Craig’s infamous boast in April 1934: “We are a Protestant parliament and Protestant state.”

In November 1934, in answer to a question from Cahir Healy about employing Catholics, Craig elaborated. There had to be “the most unimpeachable loyalty to king and constitution. That is my whole object in carrying on a Protestant government for a Protestant people.” Obviously, Catholics didn’t pass the test and were excluded.

We’ve come a long way from that, haven’t we?

Well, up to a point. The worldview that Craig encouraged still lingers on in attitudes and assumptions.

In September 2015, as acting first minister after other DUP ministers pulled out (yes again), Arlene Foster said she saw herself as a ‘gatekeeper’ to “make sure that Sinn Féin and the SDLP ministers don’t take actions that will damage Northern Ireland and principally, let’s be honest, that damage the unionist community”.

Shocking. In 2017, Foster improved on that with her notorious ‘crocodiles’ metaphor.

Foster was not alone in her views. Indeed, many others in her party and outside it have been more explicit in the view that nationalists are only entitled to what unionists will allow them to have.

Essentially, it means maintaining the status quo, the established view of what this place [Northern Ireland] is, and therefore not acceding to any alteration acceptable to nationalists.

This outdated attitude was evident in broadcast interviews here with Michelle O’Neill in the week after she was elected first minister.

In Britain and elsewhere, the headlines were about the historic moment, unprecedented symbolic change, etc. Here, radio and TV knew only how to ask questions from a Unionist point of view.

Will you be a first minister for ‘all the people’? Will you go to IRA commemorations? Will you go to Norn Irn [Northern Ireland]  football matches?

Why did local broadcasters never ask Peter Robinson or Arlene Foster if they’d be the first minister for all the people?

Do they forget, or maybe even never acknowledge, that one of the reasons Martin McGuinness gave for resigning was the lack of Unionist reciprocation for all the gestures he’d made?

At bottom, there’s a failure by local media (and certain print outlets) to accept that there’s an alternative worldview that’s absolutely legitimate. That’s a failure to accept the fundamentals of the Good Friday Agreement, namely equality of status and parity of esteem for that alternative view.

It means not always seeing the world in terms of the British monarchy, the faded trappings of empire, automatic deferential toadying to British politicians sent here.

It’s perfectly legitimate for republicans not to accept any of that baggage or kowtow to it.

They meet royalty and attend funerals and coronations out of respect for the views of the Unionist community here, but it doesn’t mean they accept or give allegiance to any of it.

Nevertheless, having done that regularly, Michelle O’Neill still gets asked will she represent all the people? Grrr.

Repeatedly asking O’Neill and other Sinn Féin ministers the same stupid questions, despite all the evidence of their actions, articulates the guilty fears of unionists that Sinn Féin will treat them the same as Craig and unionism treated nationalists in the past.

Look, Sinn Féin are determined to do otherwise. It’s about time local broadcasters started learning to ask Sinn Féin representatives questions on behalf of nationalists.

Even more to the point, it’s long past time that they started asking unionist representatives questions on behalf of nationalists, like why do you oppose bi-lingual street names, or why do you not condemn unionists who vandalize Irish place names?

Or how will you show you represent the equal status of their Irish worldview?