Replace the word “Catholic” and Belfast intimidation would be international scandal

Posted By: September 29, 2017

Distributed by Irish National Caucus

“Today’s headlines in the Irish News of Belfast underscore an enduring reality in Northern Ireland, despite the progress: a deeply rooted and virulent anti-Catholicism—one of the pillars upon which the State was undemocratically founded by England’s Government of Ireland Act, 1920. (The State came into existence in 1921). The three Ulster counties of Donegal, Cavan,  and Monaghan were excluded from the new artificial, gerrymandered State because they had too many Catholics.

The Irish News article explains: ‘Replace the word ‘Catholic’ with ‘Black’ and ‘Northern Ireland’ with ‘North America’ and you’d have the makings of a major scandal.’

Just as color has been used to keep African-Americans down, anti-Catholicism has historically been the method of keeping uppity Catholics in their place in Northern Ireland. Anyone who knows anything about The North knows this.

However, recently there has been an attempt to change this indisputable   narrative— to deny the on-going reality of anti-Catholic bigotry and to stop people from speaking about anti-Catholic discrimination because ‘it’s counterproductive to progress.’ Indeed, that was the very the first thing the British Government said when I launched the Mac Bride Principles on November 5, 1984: ‘The Mac Bride Principles campaign is counterproductive to progress’—classic Brit-speak.

 How ironic that today’s Irish News article is about denying Catholics the right to housing. One of the central demands of the Civil Rights Movement was for the end of anti-Catholic discrimination in the allocation of housing. Indeed, it was a June 1968 “sit-in” in a house in Caledon, County Tyrone that helped to galvanize the Civil Rights Movement. The family of Michelle Gildernew, MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone—Bobby Sands’ former Seat—was very much involved in that pivotal protest for justice and equality.” —Fr. Sean McManus


Replace the word “Catholic” and Belfast intimidation would be international scandal

Brendan Hughes. Irish News. Belfast. Friday, September 29, 2017

MANY will be appalled that in 2017, almost two decades since the Good Friday Agreement, people in The North are still being intimidated from their homes because of their religion.

There has been universal condemnation after several Catholic families in Belfast had to declare themselves homeless following threats of violence blamed on loyalist paramilitaries.

If similar threats happened anywhere else in Ireland or Britain, or indeed the western world, it would likely make international headlines.

Replace the word ‘Catholic’ with ‘black’ and ‘Northern Ireland’ with ‘North America’ and you’d have the makings of a major scandal.

Unfortunately, despite decades of political power-sharing and relative peace, such reports of intimidation in Northern Ireland are still far from uncommon.

From 2012-15, there were almost 1,300 cases of people presenting as homeless due to paramilitary intimidation, and more than 160 due to sectarian intimidation.

What makes this case more disheartening is how it happened in a housing development specifically aimed at improving cross-community relations and promoting a shared society.

The Cantrell Close neighborhood in the Ravenhill Road area is part of ‘Together Building United Communities’ – a multi-million-pound strategy launched by the Stormont executive in 2013.

Just days ago the PSNI and other law enforcement agencies gave a public update on the operations of a task force aimed at tackling para-militaries.

In just under two years, they have uncovered weapons and seized almost half-a-million pounds in assets and more than £230,000 worth of drugs.

But despite successes, para-military groups remain intact and show no signs of moving on.

Many key players can get away with cashing in as publicly-courted community workers before simply switching hats to pocket gangland spoils.

It is clear that tackling para-militarism once and for all cannot be resolved by policing alone, and requires more challenge from our political classes.