Catholic Ireland, United Ireland by Donal Kennedy


INTR(ODUCTION:

In, I think 1984, I had published in London’s IRISH POST  a letter commenting on an article published by the then Political Editor of THE NEW STATESMAN, Peter Kellner,  in a London daily newspaper following a visit of his to West Cork. A Mr J. O’Donnell took issue with me, quoting Mr Kellner –  “A Catholic Ireland cannot be united, and a United Ireland cannot be Catholic.”

I submitted a defence of my letter, written 25 years ago which might interest your readers, as it has stood the test of time better than that of the professional Pollster, Peter Kellner.
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“Defending Peter Kellner, Political Editor of THE NEW STATESMAN from my criticism (Sept 29), Mr. J O’Donnell quotes him ‘A Catholic Ireland cannot be united and a United Ireland cannot be Catholic.’

Whatever the merits of the slogan it does not arise from Irish law and custom. The Catholic practice of rural communities in West Cork no more invalidate  the case for
Irish re-unification than the Lutheran practices of Mid-Western communities argues for the dissolution of the United States. As people of Mr Kellner’s presumed political sophistication are convinced otherwise, and literate people are persuaded by his writings, I must support my assertions.

A devout Moslem in England and a devout Catholic in the Irish Republic might find living by their consciences risky. In each case the law of the land is more restrictive than that of their faith as regards marriage. The Koran allows man four wives at a time, the law of England but one .The Catholic Church can,and frequently does rule marriages recognised by Irish law null and void and frees the contractors to find new marriage partners.To take advantage of that freedom in Ireland is to risk jail for Bigamy, and puts the officiating Priest or Parson at similar risk for aiding and abetting a Crime. Irish laws on marriage were not made in Rome or drafted in Maynooth – despite all the propaganda to the contrary.


I too was in Ireland when Peter Kellner was there, but during three weeks through sixteen counties, staying in Dublin,Spiddal, Westport, Sligo and Belfast , unfortunately missed the traditional atmosphere of West Cork, whose people are such obstacles to  unity and impervious to New Statesmanship. I do know West Cork though, having stayed in Bantry when my uncle was Catholic Curate there in the 1950s and toued the area extensively. I well remember a Catholic Holy Day (29 June) honouring St Peter (the first Pope) and St Paul, hearing of  a sub-postmistress distressed because she could not attend Mass. Had she arranged for a neighbour to stand in for her of the half-hour or so required and if word of this got to officialdom she would have been sacked. The reason? In the 95% Catholic state only St Patrick’s Day and Christmas, of the Catholic Feast Days, are Public Holidays.

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