Is this the new Ireland?Jul 28th, 2011 | By Ian Poulton | Category: Ireland
There are reports this week of accusations against the Protestants and the Jews. In the spirit of John Charles McQuaid, it is surprising the Freemasons have not made an appearance in the rhetoric; he made regular reference to ‘Protestants and Freemasons’ as those responsible for trends he disliked.
The Drogheda Independent reports on a column in a local parish bulletin bearing the heading “Heil Herr Kenny”. The priest is enraged at Taoiseach end Kenny’s Dail criticisms of the Vatican, “The last European leader to make such a blistering attack on the Pope was the ruthless German dictator Adolf Hitler”.
He warns anyone who might be sympathetic to the Taoiseach’s sentiments, ‘If history teaches us one lesson, it must surely be a call to be careful about the canonisation of political leaders. Even Hitler had to face that reality. A cautionary tale.’
The priest’s extraordinary outburst implies that the people of the Shankill in Belfast are Protestant bigots and that the speech was a concession to sentiments they might find attractive and a departure from vision of Ireland embraced by the founders of the State. ‘His Dáil speech was greeted with shouts of jubilation by almost every journalist and TV pundit in the country. Is this the new Ireland? Is this the fulfillment of the dreams of the founding fathers?, ‘ No Pope here’. Is this the way forward for a new and better Ireland? Perhaps we might try and find a way to build new bridges with the Shankhill Road people. A ‘No Pope Here’ sign on the Dail gates would definitely be a draw for Shankhill Road people and marchers from Portadown!’
Unhappiness with Protestants in Co Louth is matched by unhappiness with Jews in Co Kilkenny. The Kilkenny People’s front page headline is a story of a sermon. A preacher at a Saturday evening Mass is reported as saying that ‘the agenda has been set by people who have a vested interest against the church including the Minister for Justice, who he described as Jewish, non-practicing and an atheist Minister’.
The reported remarks are a residue from an old Ireland; the sort of bigotry espoused on Orange platforms and by preachers at parish missions.
The question posed in Louth asked about the dreams of the founding fathers. Tone, Emmett, Parnell and Markievicz, being Protestants are presumably excluded from his definition; but where in the vision of the others who fought for Irish freedom is there any envisaging of the oppressive theocracy that arose?
More pertinently, it’s not Protestants or Jews who fill the benches of Dail Eireann; and it’s not Protestants or Jews who no longer attend Mass; but, then, it’s much easier to avoid one’s own problems by criticizing someone else.