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Mc Cain and Northern Ireland


Fr. Sean Mc Manus, President, Irish National Caucus • 8 February 2007

I was pleased to see in Ray O'Hanlon's article that British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has asked U. S. Senator John Mc Cain (R-AZ) to urge the Reverend Ian Paisley to share power with Sinn Fein. ("McCain asked to intercede with Paisley", Irish Echo, February 7 - 13).

I have a great deal of respect for Senator Mc Cain, a genuine American hero, irrespective of what one thinks of the Vietnam War. However, it is ironic — and maybe not too politically advantageous — that Mc Cain's first very public foray into Irish politics would be high-profile association with the one person who more than anyone else is the personification of anti-Catholic sectarianism and bigotry in Northern Ireland over the past 60 years. It could evoke the specter of George W. Bush's campaign-visit to Bob Jones University — Paisley's main American sponsor for the past 60 years.

GOP and Northern Ireland

Over the past 30 years, The Republican Party, in general, has not distinguished itself by opposing anti-Catholic sectarianism in Northern Ireland — although, by a delicious irony, it was the Republican-controlled Congress that passed the Mac Bride Principles. For that we have to thank the great Ben Gilman (R-NY), former Chairman of the House International Relations Committee. There are, of course, other Republican Members of Congress who have stood up for justice and equality in Northern Ireland: Jimmy Walsh, Peter King, Chris Smith, the late Hamilton Fish, to name some of the more prominent. But to my knowledge — and I've been working on this issue for almost 35 years in America; twenty nine of those years on Capitol Hill — Senator Mc Cain has never been significantly involved in opposing British injustice and Orange anti-Catholic sectarianism in Northern Ireland. He has been silent on anti-Catholic discrimination, collusion, State-sponsored terrorism, etc. , etc. He did not even raise his voice against the torture of political prisoners in Northern Ireland (when his voice would have been the most eloquent, granting his own experience, which he heroically endured).

Anti-Catholic Sectarianism

Here, let me explain something that surprisingly is often missed. When we talk about anti-Catholic sectarianism in Northern Ireland, we are not talking about some obtuse theological difference between Catholic and Protestants. Rather, we are talking about a Government-sanctioned policy for keeping Catholics oppressed. So when Paisley ranted and raved about "Popery", he was not making some nice theological point but rather shoring up the status quo and making sure that Catholics (not the Pope or the Cardinals, but the poor, unemployed Catholics) would be kept " in their place" — at the back of the bus. In much the same way the segregationists in the Deep South had shored up Jim Crow. (Sectarianism is but the flip side of the racist coin).

Anti-Catholicism has been the State religion of the Northern Ireland state. Now, thank God — and thanks to Tony Blair — all that can change because of the peace-process. But let no one be in any doubt — vicious, dangerous, anti-Catholic sectarianism is still deeply embedded in Northern Ireland, ever ready to be stoked into flames by Paisley-like demagoguery. If one does not understand that, one fails to grasp the most fundamental reason why historically the State of Northern Ireland was created by the 1920 British Government Act Of Ireland. The deal was: British rule through Protestant supremacy, and Protestant supremacy through British rule. (None of which had anything to with the many valid points raised by Martin Luther and his Reformation).

So while I welcome John Mc Cain's growing involvement in Irish affairs, I think it is incumbent on him to use his powerful and rightly respected voice to oppose anti-Catholic sectarianism in Northern Ireland.

A Good Place for Mc Cain to Begin

A good place for him to start is to convince Tony Blair to abolish the inherently anti-Catholic Act of Settlement, 1701, under which no Catholic can become King or Queen of England, and which states that if the Monarch becomes a Catholic, or marries a Catholic, he/she forfeits the Throne and "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. For you see, the spurious but deadly logic goes, if a Catholic by law can't get the top job, then Catholics are not equal to Protestants, therefore it's okay to discriminate against them. Can you imagine how the flames of racism would have been stoked in the United States had there been a Constitutional ban on a Black person becoming President? (And, please, let no one say, " but that's different", because it's not).

Quite amazingly, while there is a growing groundswell in Britain itself against this anti-Catholic Act, Tony Blair, who has done so much good in Northern Ireland, has refused to move to repeal it, even though he has admitted it is "plainly discriminatory". Maybe the distinguished Senator form the great State of Arizona can convince Blair to do the right thing.



























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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



There is no such thing as a dirty word. Nor is there a word so powerful, that it's going to send the listener to the lake of fire upon hearing it.
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Index: Current Articles

13 February 2007

Other Articles From This Issue:

Compromise, Compromise, Compromise
Helen McClafferty

Martin Galvin

The Heart of Collusion
John Kennedy

Bad Tactics
Anthony McIntyre

The Clothes Make the Man
Mick Hall

Follow the Leader
John Kennedy

Dry Your Eyes
John Kennedy

The Foreman
Anthony McIntyre

Mc Cain and Northern Ireland
Fr. Sean Mc Manus

Rumours of Retirement
Dr John Coulter

Liam O Ruairc

If MI5 rules, What was the 30-year war all about?
John Kelly

PRUC Service
Brian Mór

Nationalists Divided Over Sinn Fein Support for British Policing
Paul Mallon

Remember the B Specials?
Dr John Coulter

The Boyne Harriers
Brian Mór

Coming Full Circle
Seaghán Ó Murchú

The Need for an Anti-Imperialist United Front
Philip Ferguson

28 January 2007

Done & Dusted
Anthony McIntyre

Once Again, The Big Transition
Dolours Price

Plastic Bullet
John Kennedy

Provos Embrace Total Collaboration with British Rule
Ruairí Ó Brádaigh

British Policing is Not an Alternative
Francis Mackey

$F Hats
Brian Mór

Policing Problems
Tommy McKearney

SF Seeks to Curtail NI Policing
David Adams

Digging Up the Truth
John Kennedy

State Terrorism Par Excellence
Anthony McIntyre

Collusion: Dirty War Crime
Mick Hall

Repeating the Pattern of the Top Brass
Eamonn McCann

Collusion revelations: disturbing but not shocking
Brendan O'Neill

England's Legacy to Ireland: State Sponsored Terrorism
Richard Wallace

Application for Service in HMPRUC
Brian Mór

The Revolution is the People
Michéal MháDonnáin

Rates and PFI Payments
Ray McAreavey

Reviews of 'Century'
Roy Johnston

A Peacemaker at the Start and the Finish
David Adams



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