Adams and Paisley on Protestant republicanism

Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley had an unusual public confrontation last week. To the exasperation of some the subject wasn’t the immediate difficulties of the peace process, but the Presbyterian roots of Irish republicanism.

it was the ghosts of Henry Joy
McCracken and his sister, Mary Ann, Henry Munro, Samuel Neilson,
the Rev James Porter and others, all United Irishmen – apart from
Mary Ann – and all Presbyterians, according to Mr Adams – that
prompted the interaction.

Dr Paisley said he had listened to a "very interesting extract
from republican propaganda history" but he wanted to "inform the
gentleman who has spoken" he was unaware of the difference between
Presbyterians and Unitarians and that the Presbyterian synod around
that historic period was totally opposed to the United Irish
rebellion. (Irish Times)

Slugger points us to some interesting musings on this debate by Eamonn McCann:

one of the chief reasons Tone and the United Irishmen wanted to end the oppression of Catholics was that they believed that, freed, the Catholics would slough off their religion. In his splendid Argument On
  Behalf Of The Catholics Of Ireland, written for the Dublin-based Catholic Committee in 1791, Tone put it plain: "Persecution will keep alive the foolish bigotry and superstition of any sect…Persecution bound the Irish Catholic to his priest and the priest to the Pope; the bond of union is drawn tighter by oppression; relaxation will undo it." (Belfast Telegraph)

Perhaps there’s a lesson there for the British politicans who launched the recent controversy about the Muslim veil.

Update: The full Stormont debate is now available here.






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