Not a bit Complicated by Joe McVeigh


The letter below was published in the Tablet (An English Catholic magazine) 27th May 2023. The Tablet has never before published any letters that I sent them. They have often published articles and letters sympathetic to the British government.  A recent example was an article by that well known authority on Irish politics, Malachi O’Doherty. This is the text of my response to a previous letter by a CDC Armstrong from Belfast who is a regular contributor to the letters page of the Irish Times.


 CDC Armstrong (20 May) accuses two other writers (Nicholas Boyle and Justin Kilcullen) of taking a simplistic approach to the politics in the North of Ireland. He would prefer if they would accept that the situation is more complex because there are a few Catholic Unionists like himself around. The recent elections have shown that the vast majority of the Catholic population want the British out of Ireland and want to govern their own country.

As someone who was born and raised a Catholic in County Fermanagh, I see nothing complex about the situation. The conflict is the direct result of British colonial rule which caused division along religious lines and created even deeper divisions and grave injustices by the Partition of this country in 1920. Catholics were denied equal rights since the state was formed.

The Irish Catholic people were subjugated by the English who pursued a policy of ‘divide and conquer’ as they did in all their colonies. There’s nothing complex about that. I also was born and raised in Fermanagh and my own family and neighbours were on the receiving end of British violence. As a Catholic priest I was also subjected to intimidation and harassment for daring to question British policy in Ireland.

The British position is no longer sustainable. The end of British/unionist domination is now in sight. Those with a vested interest in maintaining British rule will always say that the situation is more complex. They want to avoid confronting the real issue.

Fr Joe McVeigh

Co Fermanagh

8 Responses to Not a bit Complicated by Joe McVeigh

  1. Ciaran Leonard June 5, 2023 at 7:51 pm #

    Excellent article Fr Joe . Maith thú

  2. Raymond McMahon June 5, 2023 at 9:27 pm #

    Well stated Fr Joe, I agree with your analysis

  3. Jack Britton June 5, 2023 at 9:57 pm #

    Well said Fe. Joe

    • Another Jude June 6, 2023 at 9:26 am #

      Great article.

  4. Kieran McCarthy June 6, 2023 at 9:22 am #

    On the button Fr Joe as always!

  5. Donal Kennedy June 6, 2023 at 9:50 am #

    In 1916 Roger Casement chose to convert to Catholicism.
    Cardinal Bourne, Archbishop of Westminster forbade any Priest subject to himself to receive

    Bourne was by no means exceptional amongst English Catholic Clergy or Laity – then or now.

    An Irish Priest received Casement into the Church.

  6. Brendan Morgan June 6, 2023 at 3:22 pm #

    I read an article once that said that Catholic Archbishop of Westminster had written to the Papal authority demanding that the Vatican transfer the North out of the authority of Irish bishops to his English authority. Apparently the demand was vehemently opposed Cardinal O’Fee.

    I think that just about sums up the mindset of the English Catholic Church towards Ireland!

  7. Brian Patterson June 18, 2023 at 7:50 am #

    Remember the infamous Bishop Tickle (I kid you not!) a former Catholic Chaplin to the Parachte Regiment, who in the the aftermath of Bloody Sunday, in a private letter (which became public!) to one of the “commanders congratulating them on a job well done and exulting on how magnificent they lookedl carrying out their murderous task
    The English Catholic was never a friend to Ireland.