HUMANIST Volume 87 No 1 January 1972
Journal of the Rationalist Press Association Ltd Views expressed by contributors are not necessarily those of the RPA
Personally Speaking Hector Hawton
The Religious Factor in Ulster Christopher Macy
Church & State in the Irish Republic 1: The Muddled Past Dick Walsh 2: The Muddled Present Alan Smith 3: Maynooth Time Bomb Jonathan Burgess Civil Rights in Ulster John D. Stewart The Ulster Constitution An Ulster Lawyer Job Discrimination in Northern Ireland Christopher Macy 18 Sinn Fein and the IRAs: 1 Christopher Macy 20 Sinn Fein and the IRAs: 2 Christopher Macy 22 Hogarth at the Tate H. J. Blackham 25 Humanist Theatre Roger Manvell 27 Books 29 Research Report 33 News 35 Letters 36 Cover picture: Grandstand view in Belfast
Editor CHRISTOPHER MACY Associate Editor ROGER MANVELL Editorial and Publishing Offices Advertisement Department 88 ISLINGTON HIGH STREET, LONDON N1 8EL 01-226 7251/2 Annual subscription £1 *50 post free (USA $4.50) Second class postage paid at ' New York Post Office, NY
A Plague on Both
Their Houses T h e s it u a t io n in N o r th er n I reland is so complicated as to make many throw up their hands in despair and say that it defies analysis. Those who do offer an explanation do so always from a particular position which leads them to single out or emphasize one particular dynamic as the only or dominant causal factor. In what follows we will be accused by some of offering a similarly biased and partial vitiated analysis. But in putting forward religion as a major factor we do not offer it as the only cause of the problems in Ulster, although we do insist that i t is a major one. If we concentrate on the religious aspect, this is for two very good reasons. Firstly, it is being ignored by everyone else in the United Kingdom, virtually without exception. Indeed the avoidance of the religious issue is so marked as to amount to a conspiracy of silence. There are far more honest people in Ireland, North and South, who are prepared to admit the role of religion in the troubles in U lster than there are in Britain.
Secondly the Humanist has the great advantage of being able to look a t religion in its various manifestations without partiality. He shares with the Protestants their suspicion of the international political ramifications of the Roman Church; the Humanist too abhors the institution of the confession and the institutional nature of Roman Catholic education, which serves its children so ill in the modern world. Above all the Humanist deplores the authoritarian Roman approach to personal life, in such matters as divorce, and contraception. N e Temere is a phrase little, if ever, heard in Britain, but in Ireland i t is short hand for the whole edifice of Catholic tyranny and the wrapping up of church and state, which begins, but does not end, with clauses 41 and 44 in the Irish Constitution.
When he looks a t Protestantism in Northern Ireland, however, the Humanist finds th a t there is little to choose between them. If Eire is priest ridden, so is Ulster. There are even two Presbyterian clergymen in Stormont, a thing inconceivable in the Dail Eireann. Religious controls on private life in U lster may not be as in Eire, but the suspicion is that the difference is more one of kind than of degree. Sabbatarianism is the tip of the iceberg. If the Ulsterman anathematizes the constitutional position of the Roman Catholic Church in Eire, he has no improvement to offer in ‘ a Protestant Parliament for a Protestan t People ’. In the field of politics Eire has nothing to compare with the religious manipulation of the Unionist Party through the medium of the Orange Order.
As for Protestant cries of freedom, while they may strike a sympathetic chord in distant observers, they ring very hollow on the spot. After two years it is already often forgotten that the British Army was called into Northern Ireland to do an impossible job of policing for which no army is organized or trained, because the indigenous Protestant Police force sided with Protestant mobs and behaved with less discipline and more partisan savagery than any army of occupation. Freedom is the last thing which can survive in the neurotic defensively (icontinued on pS)