Irish-American Campaign To Repeal British Act of Settlement, 1701

Posted By: September 20, 2007

Irish-American Campaign To Repeal British Act Of Settlement, 1701

CAPITOL HILL. SEPTEMBER 20, 2007 —— The US Congress and all
Presidential Candidates are being pressured to take a stand
against the British Act of Settlement, 1701, which contain anti-
Catholic provisions.

The Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus is spearheading the
campaign. Its president, Fr. Sean Mc Manus, launched the campaign
in an Op-Ed piece in this week’s Irish Echo. In his letter to all
Members of Congress House and Senate, Fr. Mc Manus tells them:

“The sectarian Act, which is still law today, decrees that only a
Protestant can succeed to the British throne and that if the
Monarch becomes a Catholic, or marries a Catholic, he/she
forfeits the Throne and “the people are absolved from their

While this absurdly anachronistic law may mean little to the
average Englishman in the street, it has always been of the
utmost importance to Protestant/Unionist/Orange extremists in
Northern Ireland. It provides the ideological and philosophical
underpinnings for their bigotry and sectarianism. For you see,
the spurious but deadly logic goes, if a Catholic by law can’t
get the top job, then Catholics are inferior to Protestants,
therefore it’s okay to discriminate against them.

Imagine had there been a provision in the US Constitution
forbidding an African-American being president, or forbidding the
president to marry a black personŠ imagine how that would have
stoked the flames of racism and the sick ideology of white
supremacy. Tony Blair, who has done so much good work for justice
and peace in Northern Ireland, declared the Act was “plainly

Furthermore, an increasing number of people in Britain itself are
shamed and embarrassed by this archaic and anti-Catholic law —
which is clearly incompatible with the Human Rights Act 1998 —
and are demanding its repeal. Here is a partial list: the British
Attorney General, more than 150 MPs, the Cardinal of Scotland,
the Cardinal of England and the Guardian Newspaper.

We now ask you to join this growing list of concerned people in
the US, Britain and Ireland, by declaring your support for
repealing the sectarian and anti-Catholic sections of the Act of
Settlement, which fans the fires of religious bigotry in Northern

Please find enclosed our “Roll Call on Act of Settlement, 1701”,
which polls all Members of the House and Senate on whether they
are for or against Repeal. (A similar poll will be sent to
Presidential Candidates and others seeking public office). Your
response, or lack thereof, will be disseminated among the Irish-
American community, which according to the last US census is over
30 million.”

Fr. Mc Manus predicted that the Repeal Campaign would be very
effective. He pointed out: ” It took Irish-American pressure to
effectively raise the issue of anti-Catholic discrimination by US
companies in Northern Ireland through the Mac Bride Principles,
to get Candidate Bill Clinton to make his Irish promises, to get
Special Envoy appointed, etc. Now we have the Act of Settlement
in our sights, and we are not going to go away, you know. It is
pointless to complain about the sectarianism of Orange extremists
if we don’t first attack the foundation of that extremism, the
Act of Settlement — and the Orangemen did not make that law.
The British Monarch and the British Parliament did.


Father Sean Mc Manus
Irish National Caucus
P.O. Box 15128
Capitol Hill
Washington, D.C. 20003-0849