No kidding… The British constitution provides the excuse for Orange bigotry

Posted By: March 29, 2013

By Fr. Sean McManus, President of the Irish National Caucus

Irish News. Friday, January 27, 2006

CATHAL Mc Glade – ‘Who cares anymore if the British monarch is a Catholic?’ (January 24 2006) – seems to think that separation of Church and state doesn’t matter and ‘constitutions’ are unimportant.
Who cares if there was a provision in the US constitution that forbade a black person becoming president?
Cahal would not… but I would.
For the same reason I care – and all democrats should – that the British ‘constitution’ mandates that a Catholic cannot become monarch.
The anti-Catholic Act of Settlement 1701, still operative today, has a provision 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 – I kid you not – “the people are absolved from their allegiance”.
While this law may mean little to the average Englishman in the street, it has always been of deep importance to Protestant/Unionist/Orange extremists in Northern Ireland.
It provides the ideological and philosophical underpinnings for their bigotry and sectarianism.
The deadly logic goes: if a Catholic by law can’t get the top job, then Catholics are not equal to Protestants and it is therefore okay to discriminate against them.
Just as a provision in the US constitution forbidding a black person to be president would have had fuelled the flames of racism, I believe this inherently sectarian law has helped to fuel the fires of anti-Catholicism in Northern Ireland.
After all, the Reverend Ian Paisley and the Orange Order have often affirmed that their loyalty is not just to the British Crown but to the Protestant succession.
What do you think that’s all about?
Furthermore, an increasing number of people in Britain are shamed by this archaic and anti-Catholic law – which is incompatible with the Human Rights Act 1998 – and are demanding its repeal.
Included are: the British attorney general, more than 150 MPs, the cardinal of Scotland, the cardinal of England and The Guardian paper.
Sadly, Tony Blair – the only British prime minister I’ve been able to respect regarding Ireland (apart, maybe, from Gladstone) – has refused to join the repeal ranks.

Irish National Caucus
Capitol Hill