Orange and Green bigotry compared

In his Newsletter last Friday, Jim Fitzpatrick made an interesting comparison of the opposition by the Orange Order to a proposed visit by the Pope to Northern Ireland with Sinn Fein’s opposition to a proposed visit by the Queen.

Highlighting the objections by Orange Order, he says:

“The Orange Order in Ireland has said members should not welcome the Pope to the UK because of theological objections.

“…anyone welcoming Pope Benedict is in danger of appearing to acknowledge his primacy and universal supremacy as Vicar of Christ on earth,” they argue.

So, it’s about the Order’s belief that the Pope sees himself as God’s man on earth with dominion over all before him.  They reject his apparent claim to supremacy.”

In relation to Sinn Fein, he says:

“Sinn Fein has said it will oppose the visit of the Queen to the Republic scheduled for next year, the first by a British monarch since partition in 1921.

 “Sinn Fein opposes the proposed state visit of the Queen of England, commander-in-chief of the British armed forces,” said TD Caoimhghin O Caolain.

“Until there is complete withdrawal of the British military and the British administration from Ireland, and until there is justice and truth for victims of collusion, no official welcome should be accorded to any officer of the British armed forces of any rank,” he continued.”

Of course, most decent Protestants have no problem with the Pope visiting Northern Ireland.  It is also the case that decent Nationalists and Republicans have no problem with a visit to Ireland by the Queen.  Fitzpatrick points out: 

“Of course, the northern-born President of the Republic has no problem greeting the UK’s Head of State.  Mary McAleese has been to Buckingham Palace on behalf of the nation and greeted the Queen at a number of events marking the sacrifices of tens of thousands of Irishmen who died in the trenches of the First World War as members of the same armed forces.

And the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, Elizabeth II, has no problem meeting Popes, despite the rather bitter nature of the row between her 12th Great Grand Uncle, Henry VIII, and Pope Clement VII in the 16th century.”

Neither Sinn Fein nor the Orange Order will change their attitude in relation to these matters, since they are points dogma which define the two organisations. 

In the longer term, both of these organisations are likely to lose support as an increasing proportion of the Northern Irish population come to understand and reject the debilitating effects of intolerance in their country.

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4 Responses to Orange and Green bigotry compared

  1. shane says:

    I agree that there is a direct parallel. And to be honest, while the royal visit should have taken place years ago, I’m a bit worried about anything happening…y’know with dissident republicans.

    • Seymour Major says:

      Shane,

      You are not the first person to have raised with me the problem of dissident Republicans. I am now wishing that I had expanded this post.

      I invite you to read an exchange of comments between myself and Kensei (a Republican who has blogged occasionally on Slugger) on Jeff Peel’s blog.

      Anti – British Army dogma within Republicanism and the attitude of Catholics towards the Poppy goes back much further than the troubles. It has nothing to do with Bloody Sunday (although that event did turn good catholics against the Army). It stems from the jealousy that Republicans felt when Irishmen remembered their servicemen who fought in the Great War. On Remembrance Sunday, November 1925, when 120,000 people were gathered in Phoenix Park, Dublin, Sinn Fein protesters let off a smoke bomb. There was violence. Shots were fired. The ploy worked. In subsequent years, much smaller numbers of people attended the ceremony. Eventually, the first World War was virtually forgotten but remembrance of the 1916 rising continued in Ireland.

      In the Irish Times, there is a very good summary of the history of remembrance in the Republic of Ireland. It is worth saying that Ireland’s two lady Presidents have contributed significantly to bringing the Republic of Ireland towards reconciliation.

      Whilst it is important to guard against the dissident threat, it is also wrong for Nationalists and Republicand to use it as a “fig leaf” to cover up intolerance.

  2. shane says:

    The Irish Times article was interesting. I found a letter in the Irish Times archive with some supplementary information:

    A Chara, – It is somewhat understandable that Paul Adams (September 3rd) should repeat the oft-stated but erroneous view that the Irishmen who fought in the British army during the first World War “have been largely airbrushed out of Irish history”. This view is widely held and perpetuated because the record of the early Irish Free State governments, under the leadership of W.T. Cosgrave, has been airbrushed out of modern Irish history. Many career-minded historians find it more beneficial to write about the exploits of the “Soldiers of Destiny”, have been almost permanently in government since 1932.

    Alhough Cosgrave only learned that his death sentence had been commuted while awaiting execution in Kilmainhan Jail in May 1916, in government he worked assiduously for the reconciliation of all Irish people and especially unionists. In this instance one example may suffice.

    The Royal British Legion began an all-Ireland project in 1919 to create an Irish National War Memorial in Dublin. Eventually, on Cosgrave’s advice, it decided on the Islandbridge site. Cosgrave wrote to the committee: “There are many schools of thought now, but this is in the main, a big question of Remembrance and Honour to the dead. The war memorial is really not a concern of mine, nor is it a concern of my office, except that it must always be a matter of interest to the Head of Government to see that a project which is dear to a big section of the citizens, should be a success.”

    He also made a grant of £50,000 available for the project.

    – Is mise,

    ANTHONY JORDAN, Gilford Road, Dublin 4.

  3. shane says:

    As for Remembrance ceremonies, needless to say, they’re not ‘my scene’ but it’s obviously the right of anyone to commemorate whoever they want.

    I’m quite taken with the ‘White Poppy‘ idea, which is a symbol of peace and remembers all those who died.

    I have long believed that more recognition needs to be given, both north and south, to the Wild Geese – although not necessarily just for their military activities.

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