Letter sent, and I believe published, in THE IRISH POST (LONDON) in the 1980s.
Although it is not generally rated a “fun” paper, THE TIMES unconsciously pursues that designation. Lately it praised Karl Marx, who, if we are to believe it, would have disownedthe striking miners and branded Mr Scargill a heretic.This is not its first recorded instance of embracing the great Socialist. A sympathetic piece on a veteran Republican by its ace reporter, Christopher Thomas might have been condensed – “I was only a Fenian Bomber until I discovered Kapital.”
From time to time the paper features opposition figures who might be of influence during a Labour Government. One such, Peter Kellner, Political Editor of “The New Statesman”, has been holidaying in West Cork, observing the Catholic peasantry, reading the Dublin “Sunday Tribune” and, from these exertions, drawing conclusions and remuneration.
Mr Kellner fancies himself a radical and perhaps passes for one in the wine-bars of Fleet Street.He disparages the radical credentials of the Sunday Tribune but hangs the hat through which he argues on one of that paper’s discredited complaints – that the playing of the Angelus on RTE is offensive to Protestants and indicative of Catholic manifestations which must be suppressed if Ireland is to be united.
That nonsense originated with Dr Conor Cruise O’Brien and should have been buried over a decade ago when the Church of Ireland Dean Stack of Ardfert answered him in the IRISH TIMES.
The Angelus prayers are found in the Scriptures read by Protestants. It would make more sense for Irish Unitarians to attack Dr O’Brien’s old (Protestant) College, Trinity, or for Mr Michael Foot (an atheist) to object to the prayers in Parliament.
Catholic and Jewish Dubliners swing the New Year in to the Protestant bells of Christchurch, all Corkonians to the Protestant Bells of Shandon, and Londoners of all descriptions to those of Bow Parish Church.
In fact Mr Foot has written in THE TIMES pleading with the Established Church to retain the King James Bible. Not for that civilised Englishman the petty breast-beating of Dr O’Brien – at least on matters rooted In the culture of England. Any stick, no matter how bent or rotten, may, however, be used to to beat Irish nationalism or the Catholic Church.
Mr Kellner also cites the the Abortion Referendum (1983 in the Republic) as proving the irreconcilable differences between the Nationalist (Catholic, anti-abortion majority in the Republic) and the Unionist (Protestant pro-abortion majority in Northern Ireland) in support of his thesis.
He ignores the vote on the Corrie Bill debated in Westminster when all Ulster Unionist MPS but one, and all the Nationalists voted for the Bill. The BILL sought to restrict the conditions for abortion beyond those already written into the Abortion Act of 1967. The Bill, like the 1967 Act, would apply only to England and Wales. The Offences Against the Person Act 1861 which until this year applied in the Republic is still in force in Northern Ireland.
Mr Kellner is not a “one- off” Labour contributor to THE TIMES on Ireland, but a base from which ex-MPPhilip Whitehead developed an anti-Republican case.He wants Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants to make concessions, whilst Britain retains sovereignty and concedes nothing.
Alongside such pseudo-radicals, THE TIMES is always open to the hereditary standard-bearers of reaction. The funniest of these to surface lately was the Dowager Duchess of Westminster, writing from Fermanagh, on the ungrateful attitude “of the minority” and the absence of media coverage of the concessions given them.
She ought to know. In 1955 her late husband, who had carried a gun for the Empire, as a Colonel, contested Fermanagh & Tyrone in the General Election. He was trounced by a man who had carried a gun against the Empire, and was then the Empire’s prisoner.
MPs (excluding the elected prisoner) assembled in Westminster, surrounded by one of the defeated candidate’s estates, overruled the majority vote of Fermanagh/Tyrone, and installed the Colonel as Its MP.
Now, that was a concession to a minority deserving its gratitude and wide media coverage!
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