Fermanagh priest on partition problem

Posted By: October 31, 2014

 “On this day: October 1945.” Edited by Eamon Phoenix

Irish News.  Thursday, October 30, 2014

IN an article in The Irish News on this day, the Rev Thomas Maguire, parish priest of Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh, stressed the need for a united Nationalist front to oppose Partition. Monaghan-born Fr Maguire had emerged by the 1930s as a vocal opponent of Partition and supporter of de Valera. By the early 1950s his annual Feiseanna in Newtownbutler saw clashes between local nationalists and the RUC who ritually and predictably sought to remove the Tricolour displayed by the PP on his Parochial House. In an Open Letter the stalwart cleric wrote: “Is it not strange that in the space of twenty years the Irish nation has made no attempt to frame a policy to end the most grievous that has ever been inflicted on us? We have imposed on ourselves a voluntary Partition more dangerous by far than that forced upon us. The time has been wasted in futile wrangling. “The Nationalists in these Six Counties are told by the South that the solution of Partition is their duty. Why theirs? They had no part in the rivetting of Partition on Ireland. If they now frame a policy to end it and vigorously apply it, will the South fall into line? This is a serious question and one that demands an answer. “In his recent pamphlet, The Mutilation of a Nation, Mr Cahir Healy has given us almost every salient fact bearing on Partition. How Nationalist majorities have been changed into minorities by Stormont’s magician’s wand – let him who quests turn to Mr Healy’s exposure of the crudest type of gerrymandering history revealed. A reading of this pamphlet must convince that the greatest evil committed by England against this country is Partition. “Mr Healy’s pamphlet does not offer us any policy to end partition. Still, its perusal tempts us to formulate one. That policy must be twofold – internal and external. The convention to establish this organisation for the Six Counties is to meet in Dungannon in November. Undoubtedly this will be the most important convention held in Ireland for many years. “There is only one way to solve the problem – insist on England clearing out. This is the supreme test of the British Labour government’s interpretation of the rights of Ireland. It will prove to its many Irish supporters in England, Scotland and Wales whether its views are different from those of its Tory and Liberal predecessors. “The Fianna Fail Ard Fheis is called on to give a definite lead. Year after year since 1927 I have been listening to nothing but lip-service on the Unity of Ireland. The time for political platitudes has passed. We demand a national effort in close cooperation with the Anti-Partitionists of these Six Counties. Herein rests the national test for Fianna Fail in 1945.”