Letters to the Editor: Re: Nelson McCausland’s article

Posted By: December 25, 2017

Letters to the Editor.

Derry News

December 24, 2017

Dear Editor,
When I read Nelson McCausland’s article in the Belfast Telegraph, “Ulster-Scots are being written out of historical record – it’s time to reclaim them for posterity” (December 21), I immediately thought it is a classic case of cognitive dissonance (which the dictionary defines as “the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes”).

Mr. McCausland cites John Armstrong of the American Revolution as a hero who should be celebrated by the Unionists/Protestants of Northern Ireland.

I, too, am proud of Fermanagh-native John Armstrong who fought with George Washington and kicked England out of America. That ensured Church and State would be separate, with no Established Religion, thus guaranteeing freedom of religion. It also ensured there would not be in the American Constitution the morally equivalent type of “Act of Settlement, 1701” barring, say, a Black person being the President of the United States (as that Act bars a Catholic from being the English Monarch).

There is logic and consistency in my having this position—no cognitive dissonance whatsoever.

The question, however,  is how can an Orange fundamentalist and monarchist like Mr. McCausland also be proud of that heroic Fermanagh man? Surely, to be consistent, Mr. McCausland would have to oppose Armstrong of 1776 as much as he opposes Wolfe Tone of 1798 (whom Washington supported)? Or is McCausland a confused closet- Irish Republican?

I have a special interest in the Scots-Irish, as they call themselves in the United States, of whom I’ve met many.

I have never met one who described him/herself as Ulster-Scot.

I have a 45-year long practice when in contact with such a person of always asking: “Are you proud the Scots-Irish helped to kick England out of America in 1776?” The answer is always “absolutely.” And my response is always the same, “Well, God bless the Scots-Irish and America. And God save Ireland.”

I have never met a Scots-Irish, no matter how ardent their Protestantism, who believed that England had a right to control any one of the 32 Counties of Ireland—that for them would betray the principles of their American Revolution against England. And as regards the partition of Ireland, well, the Scots-Irish could no more support that than they could support the partition of the United States.

I would be certain the Scots-Irish would want Prince Charles to have freedom of religion. In other words, if the Royal Prince—whom I’ve always thought is a decent soul— wanted to become a Catholic, he could do so without having to forfeit the Throne, as the current sectarian and anti-Catholic Act of Settlement, 1701, mandates. This Act —an integral part of the unwritten, uncodified British constitution—is the foundation stone of the Royal Family. This Act by definition denies freedom of religion. Hard to see how a good Protestant or democrat can defend it… Yet,  Orange fundamentalists consistently stress their allegiance is not just to the British Crown, but rather to “Protestant succession to the British Throne.” But, then, who can blame them because that is what the British constitution demands.

This Orange cognitive dissonance regarding the heroic Scots-Irish role in kicking England out of America will progress exponentially as the “real Scots” themselves (who live in Scotland) increasingly opt for independence. … Therefore, this Fermanagh man must also say “God bless Scotland.”

Fr. Sean Mc Manus
Irish National Caucus
P.O. BOX 15128
Capitol Hill
Washington, DC 20003-0849
Tel. 202-544-0568
Fax. 202-488-7537