“It’s a Protestant parliament for a Protestant people”, so declared James Craig/Lord Craigavon in April 1934. As far as Craig and the Unionist party and the Orange order was concerned political Protestantism ruled in the six county statelet. Others, especially those of the large Catholic denomination, were considered ‘enemies of the state’ and were treated as such. Their allegiance was mostly, as it had always been, to the rest of Ireland.
Catholics living in the Six Counties today are still second-class citizens and will always be for as long as Partition remains. The State itself was created to ensure that a Unionist/Protestant majority would continue to dominate all aspects of life in this artificial jurisdiction. That is why they deliberately left out counties Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal, since such an arrangement would have been too precarious for the consolidation of a Unionist-dominated statelet. It is worth remembering also that soon after Partition, a fund known as ‘the Clogher Fund’ was set up by the Unionists to resettle Protestants from the southern counties in counties Tyrone and Fermanagh and thereby further strengthen the unionist majority.
The northern statelet was from the beginning nakedly sectarian and became even more sectarian as the Unionists consolidated their power – building up their own police force, the Royal Ulster Constabulary and their own local Protestant militia -the B-men. The Unionist regime created a system of discrimination in jobs and housing. They introduced draconian legislation to deal with any suspected opposition. The use of the Irish language was outlawed.
The Good Friday Agreement (1998) has not succeeded in redressing this system of inequality and so Catholics remain second-class citizens. Try putting up a Tricolour outside your house in most places in the Six Counties! You would not be allowed to stay there for too long! The Irish language is still not recognised in law. The Orange order still rules.
The only way out of this jail for everyone is through a border referendum which is
provided for in the Good Friday Agreement. To ask Nationalists and Republicans to celebrate the founding of this sectarian ‘state’ would be like asking native South Africans to celebrate the foundation of the Apartheid state. It is ridiculous for the Catholic Primate of Armagh to suggest that Nationalists and Republicans should join in the celebration of 100 years of discrimination, repression and being treated as second-class citizens.