Carson Declares War

Posted By: July 13, 2019

 On This Day [in Irish history]
The Irish News, July 13, 1919

Eamon Phoenix. Irish News. Saturday, July 13, 2019

            The Twelfth of July demonstration in Belfast on Saturday was the most ambitious effort at pageantry which the Orange institution has made since the outbreak of the war, and no effort was spared by the organizer to make the parade as showy as possible. Many new banners were produced, and it was notable that in a number of cases the Somme took the place of the Boyne in the scenes of the decorative artists.

            Colonel Wallace presided and struck an anti-Catholic note by warning his heroes that Home Rule was a greater menace than ever and was part of a Romish plot to destroy the British Empire. Mr. Thompson Donald, MP [Labour-Unionist] made a rather plaintive appeal for the new Unionist Parliamentary representation. He said he had been asked why it is that Mr. Joe Devlin [Naionalist MP] could do this thing and the other thing. He asked why it was that Protestants could go past their own representatives and give information to Mr. Devlin. ‘Give us fair play, brethren’ he concluded.

            Sir Edward Carson called upon the Government to repeal the [1914] Home Rule Act. He first paid tribute to the men who had fallen in the war. Proceeding, he said that the Home Rule Act was stillborn; it was born, it died, and it was buried upon the same day, and the Ulster Volunteers buried it. There were only two policies before the country – one was the maintenance of the Union, and the other was – God bless the mark – an Irish Republic. ‘An Irish Republic with your hats off to the President, Mr de Valera (laughter) who is now working against you in America with the help of the Catholic hierarchy in that country, backed up by the Catholic hierarchy here and and who imagines that one day or other he is going to march through Belfast’. (cries of ‘Never!’).

            ‘After the part, we have taken in the war, after the sacrifices we have made … we are not going to allow our freedom to be interfered with….If they attempt to revive the Home Rule Act or put it into force, I will once more summon the Provisional Government then I will move that we repeal the Home Rule Bill if nobody else does. I will have behind me every loyal man.’ (Carson’s violent rhetoric at Holywood took even English Tories by surprise. By this stage, his all-Ireland Unionism had been replaced by the demand for partition -something which the lugubrious Dublin lawyer privately regarded as a personal and political disaster. Critics noted that the UVF retained their illegal German guns from the 1914.importation.)