Anthony Alcock, Understanding Ulster (Lurgan:Ulster Society [Northern Whig:] 1994), 178pp.

Emain Macha, pre-Gaelic kingdom of Ulster [Ulaid], fallen or abandoned in 450 AD;

… the claim that it was the descendants of the original inhabitants of Ulster and thus the ancestors of the majority of today’s Unionist community, who returned, a thousand years later with the great Plantation of Ulster early in the seventeenth century, to retake their own land. [2]

Should there still be some scepticism about the theory of the returning group, one may like to remember that the children of Israel left and returned to their homeland not once but three times—to and from Egypt, to and from Babylon, and last of all after the 1,848 years of the Diaspora that stretched between the capture of Jerusalem by Titus in AD 70 and the re-establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. [3]

In its development the Church of St Patrick postulated many of the Features of future Protestantism—no appeal to sacramental symbols such as icons or invocation of the Virgin Mary, saints or purgatory, the only mediator being Christ; no requirement of celibacy; the tasking of communion in both kinds and rejection of the idea of transubstantiation. [5]

The Irish today may well like to believe that the Celtic Church maintained the light of Christianity in the Dark Ages, but this was not the view in Rome. Soon church councils on the European mainland were resolving not to recognise Irish prelates and ordering that no one should receive baptism or the eucharist from Irish clergy. [6]

Adrian IV, only English pope, not convinced that synod of Rathbreasail had succeeded in romanising Ireland, Bull Laudabiliter [1155-56] authorised Henry II to go to Ireland and root out its ‘nurseries of vice’ [...] [7]

Medievial Ireland was in a sorry state. Economically it was poor; Irish revenues covered only the most basic costs of [7] government. Authority was scant [...] English law existed only in the Pale, whose borders were so ill-defined that in some distructs no one knew to what authority they were subject. Beyond the Pale Brehon law, the old Irish code of regulations, prevailed. [ftn. ref. Killen]

In this atmosphere of poverty and anarchy two significant developments occurred [...] English racism [with Statues of Kilkenny] and decline in parallel with continental developments of Roman Catholic Church. [~8]

Henry declared king of Ireland, 1542. Arrival of Jesuits, 1540, spearhead of Counter-Reformation; urged Irish chiefs to throw off their allegiance, promising help from the continent in a struggle for independence [ftn. Killen]

TCD tolerated puritanism; convocation took place in Dublin 1615, Ussher responsible for drafting articles of Church; his mentor was John Foxe; thought first seven hundred years of Christian Church was relatively golden period followed by three centuries of growing worldliness and corruption; by eleventh century the Anti-Christ had been firmly established –in Rome; Foxe and Ussher abominated Gregory VII; saw Reformation as reversal of Roman aberration and return to true path [...] [10]

George Downham, Bishop of Derry 1617-34: ‘If the Pope be Anti-Christ, then those that are found to be resolute Antichristians, that is recusant papists, ought not to be favoured or spared in a Christian Commonwealth [...] for what fellowship can there be between light and darkness?’

In so far as Ireland was concerned Ussher’s defence of the continuity and autonomy of the churches in the West was designed to show that the Church of Ireland was the only true successor to the Church of the Apostolic era, and not the Roman Catholic Church. That raised the question as to what attitude should be adopted to Roman Catholics. To what extent should they be tolerated? [...] Ussher drafted 104 Articles, the contents of which did not seriously depart from the Thirty-Nine Articles adopted in England in 1562. They did, however, include articles drawn up by Archbishop Whitgate in 1585 who was trying to enable Calvinist divines to remain in the Anglican Church. These Calvinistic tendencies were particularly appealing to Scottish settlers in Ulster and as a result many Scotish ministers were appointed to the Irish Church. [PARA] Unfortunately the Church of England in the person of Archbishop Laud, wanted to introduce theological uniformity throughout the British Isles. He particularly dislike the Calvinist doctrine of Predestination. Among the many duties undertaken by Thomas Wentworth when he went to govern Ireland in 1633 was to carry out Laudian reforms. He tried to get the now established Church of Ireland to abandob the 1915 Articles in favour of those accepted by the Church of England in 1614. He also sought to have the Scottish settlers in Ulster accept the episcopal system of government which King Charles I was trying to impose onf the Scottish Church, and which the Scottish Church was resisting. To this end Wentword required all Scottish settlers to swear the so-called Black Oath [...] many refused, many fled …&c. [11-12]

Henry Joy McCracken, Presbyterian cotton manufacturer [sic] [15]

NOTE: Author discusses shorcomings of Insight team in Ireland [19]: only knew ‘relatively moderate and liberal Catholicism existing in Britain’. [19] and quotes the statement on Church-state separation by J F Kennedy [20]

Cites William Norton: ‘If the question is raised as one in which the Bishops are to be on one side and the Government on the other side, I say, on behalf of the Government, that issue is not to arise in this country. This Government will not travel down that road [...] There will be no flouting of the authority of the Bishops on Catholic social or Catholic moral teaching [...] (Irish Times; period of Dr Browne’s 1947 Mother and Child; See Anthony Alcock, Understanding Ulster (1994). [19]

[CONRA CATHOLICAM:] Author quotes Pope John Paul II, affirming papacy in the face of ‘an overall and systematic calling into question of traditional moral doctrine on the basis of certain anthropological and ethical presuppositions.’ [21]. Also: ‘To the affirmation that one has a duty to follow one’s conscience is unduly added the affirmation that one’s moral judgement is true merely by the fact that it has its origin in the conscience.’ [para 32]; attack on behavioural science as not being indicative of moral norms [para. 112]; acceptance of Church teaching required of teachers: ‘Opposition [...] cannot be seen as a legitimate expression either of Christian freedom or of the diversity of the Spirit’s gifts.’ [para. 112]. Encyclical, Veritas Splendor (1993). [21]

By the end of the eighteenth century Catholics owned about five per cent of the land, but the condition of most of the great mass of the Catholic population, the peasantry, was disasterous. [25]

Under GAA rules, still in force today, members of the British army forces and RUC were barred from membership, doubtless because in its early days its activities also involved drilling for revolution under the guise of training. [27]

De Valera: ‘Our movement is constitutional in that sense. Constitutional nationalism does not align itself with the British Constitution; it aligns itself with the will of the Irish people.’ Irish Independent, 29 Oct. 1917; [quoted in C. Smyth, Ireland’s Physical Force Tradition Today (Ulster Soc. Lurgan, 1989), p.8].

Quotes signally the resolution of 21,000 Unionists at anti-Home Rule Bill Convention, Belfast 17 June 1892, expressing ‘devoted loyalty of Ulster ‘Unionists to the Crown and Constitution’, and protesting ‘in an unequivocal manner against the passage of any measure that would rob us of our inheritance in the Imperial Parliament, under the protection of which our capital has been invested and our homes and rights safeguarded; that we record our determination to have [31] nothing to do with a Parliament certain to be controlled by men responsible for the crime and outrage of the Land League [...] the cruelties of boycotting, many of whom have shown themselves the ready instrument of clerical domination; that we declare to the people our Great Britain our conviction that the attempt to set up such a Parliament in Ireland will inevitably result in disorder, violence, and bloodshed such as had not been experienced in this century; and announce ourselves resolved to take no part in the election [...] [32]


Highlights Charles D’Arcy, Protestant Bishop of Connor and Down: ‘We hold that no power, not even the British Parliament, has the right to deprive us of our heritage of British citizenship.’ [33]

John Redmond: ‘Irish nationalists can never be assenting parties to the mutilation of the Irish nation; Ireland is a unit [...] The two nation theory is, to us, an abomination and a blasphemy.’ [(Quoted in Trimble, The Foundation of Northern Ireland (Lurgan:Ulster soc. 1991), p.8-9.]

… the implict acceptance of an eventually desirable Irish unity the main British parliamentary parties and, to a large extent, the British government, more or less withdrew from Northern Ireland [39]

Quotes Irish Catholic, 1924: ‘The Irish nation is the Gaelic nation; it Language and literature is the Gaelic language; its history is the history of the Gael. All other elements have no place in Irish national life, literature and tradition, save in as far as they are assimilated into the very substance of Gaelic speech, life and thought.’ (Terence Brown, Social History, 1980, p.30.

When de Valera wrote Articles 2 and 3, the British Government’s response was, to quote F S L Lyons, ‘phlegmatic in a degree that would have excited the envy of Phineas Fogg.’

Art. 44: ‘The special position of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church as the guardian of the faith professed by the great majority of its citizens’ [50]

President Robinson’s father had to get a dispensation [for her] at TCD [51]; ban not lifted till two years after Civil Rights demonstration in North.

New Ireland Forum reported that NI had ‘failed to accomodate the identity of Northern Nationalists’ and called for united Ireland by consent, different from existing N. and S. states to accomodate both traditions. Report rejected by Thatcher’s Govt. Signing of Anglo-Irish Agreement 15 Nov. 1984 [64]

one of the most dishonest aspects of the Agreement is that since the status of NI is considered to be different by both countries there is no definition of what is meant by the term the ‘status of Northern Ireland’. [...] the two official copies of the agreement are different. [with Fitzgerald signing as Prime Ministe of Ireland and Thatcher as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the formula of all Anglo-Irish agreements for the last 40 years!] no provision for Unionist community to put forward proposal [67]

security benefits expected for the Agreement did not occur [69]

ridicules concept of fifty per cent plus one for Irish unity [71] UP proposes 85 seat Assembly[74]


… Ten years after the Anglo-Irish Agreement there has been no let-up in terrorism [...] //After seventy years of NI’s problems, how is it possible that no acceptable solution has been found?

KEY: What is a Unionist? [seems to endorse] the notion that unionist has little to do with the idea of a nation and everything to do with the idea of a state. //According to Arthur Aughey, the UK is a state which, being multi-national and multi-ethnic, can be understood in terms of citizenship and not substantive identity [...] the imperial notion of civis Britannicus sum has transformed itself into the democratic ideal of different nations, different religions, and different colours, all equal citizens under one government. It is to this notion that intelligent unionism, which embraces both Protestant [79] and Catholics, owes allegiance. It was from this concept that the Irish Republic seceded, in order to construct a state on the principal of Irish national (ie.e cultural) unity. [...] UNIONIST [...] SOMEONE WITH A CONTRACTARIAN VIEW OF SOCIETY [80]

Quotes Fermanagh newspaper, in 1915: Today in Ireland, treason to the govt. is almost synonymous with loyalty to the crown. [81]

Bibl. Loughrey, People of Ireland, includes Liam de Poer [sic] and Aidan Clarke; dated in notes 1989; in bibl. 1988; Clarke is spelt thus in text, p.82 passim; and Clarke in notes.

Views of what is a colonist, indeed when does one stop being a colonist and become part of the landscape brought this author personally into contact with what Unionists have to face from the British academic establishment. [83] Goes on to illustrate British view of Ulsterman as settler and colonist, and calls it an ‘incitement to violence’. [84]

Religious discrimination given as major reason for discrepancy in employment figures between Protestants and Catholics (the former being 2.2 times more likely to be unemployed), called by Alcock ‘typical example of the smear tactics of the 1970s’. He goes on to note that anti-discrimination legislation had been in place for ten years, and that the real reasons had to do with education (anti-science bias in RC education), and location (Catholics in peripheral regions); poverty trap for families over four; abandonment of security forces as source of employment; and local community chill factor. [85]

Patrick Mayhew declares that the united Ireland aspiration is equally to be respected as the desire to remain in the Union (Coleraine, 1992); and that England would leave N. Ireland ‘with pleasure’ (Die Zeit), later retracted. [87]


Establishment of Stormont as a victory for Unionists but a loss for unionism; preferable arrangement not federalism, since devolved govt. would maintain the Ulster as distinct, but full integration, with two large metropolitan or county councils [CEC] [89]

AUTHOR SEES WITHDRAWAL OF BRITISH MAIN PARTIES FROM NI AS PART OF ATTEMPT TO ISOLATE THE UNIONIST [89] Socialist oriented worker Unionists were told to join the SDLP. [90] Conservative campaigning in NI ‘pathetic’ since the ministers could not reconcile desire to be impartial with protecting the Union. [90]

Lord Tebbit, victim of Brighton, attacked by press for suggesting that Arts. 2 & 3 would only be changed if Dublin was bombed by paramilitaries. [95]

PSF representatives are prison convicts who ‘understand’ PIRA violence; Unionists councillors, who condemn Protestant violence, have to sit with them.

The Irish republic has few natural resources, and the way the state is managed holds no cheer for the future, and certainly no inducement to Unionists. [Alcock gives a tally of Irish GDP and other figures, showing extreme debt deficit and 9% resourcing form EEC; 11.4 % of GNP against British 0.5.] [87]

Author echoes sheer contempt of Republic as a political entity because of issue of neutrality [103] In conclusion, there is no incentive whatever for Unionist to go into an United Ireland. [102] for Unionists it is utterly incomprehensible that the British should want them to join a society that is utterly alien, which the British themselves would be angered if they were forced to join [103]

The British Govt has continually condemned the PIRA. [...] THERE IS ANOTHER UNDECLARED REASON WHY THE GOVT. REGRETS THE PIRA CAMPAIGN. IN NORTHERN IRELAND IT MAKES RECONCILIATION, AND HENCE EVENTUAL UNIFICATION, EVEN MORE DIFFICULT; in mainland Britain there is alway the danger that revulsion at IRA activities might be translated into support for unionism. [118]

the continual pro-Irish unity and anti-Unionist bias of the British political, civil service and media establishments  … [120] [...] many have died to honour the right to be British citizens. BY THEIR APPEASEMENT OF IRISH NATIONALISM SUCCESSIVE BRITISH GOVTS. HAVE DISHONOURED THEIR DEATHS AND THAT RIGHT. [121]

Dublin – The Dream Merchants

Gaelic society was tribal with no effective central authority [...] It was not until the seventeenth century that Ireland was united for the first time under a central administration—by the English. [Wilson, after J C Beckett] [...] the myth that the population of Ireland was almost entirely Irish has been disposed on in chapter two [Cruitin]. [...] there is no such natural law which requires that single islands must always correpond to single nations. [123]

Account of McGimpsey case, and Workers’ Party tabling of amendment to Arts. 2 & 3 Bill, with scathing attack on their illogicality by Desmond O’Malley; Bruton’s objection to the spurious justification for the PIRA violence in the name of ‘reintegrating’ the ‘national territory’, and finally the failure of the bill by 74 to 66, with Fianna Fail holding firm. [135]

bad enough that even if reunificiation by consent were achieved PSF PIRA and INLA would be able to claim that it was their bombs that had softened the British and the Unionists up in the first place, and it is simply not convincing to pretend that these organisations would fold their tents once reunification had been accomplished. [135]


John Bowman, in De Valera and the Ulster Problem, summarises the current ‘highly subjective’ beliefs of nationalists:

1] that the people of Ireland comprised one nation

2] that Britain had partitioned Ireland solely from self-interest

3] that an independent politically reunited Ireland was inevitable

4] that even if Britain had to coerce the Unionists into unity the resulting united Ireland woudl be economically propserious and politically stable

5] that if Britain unilaterally broke the link with NI, the Ulster Unionists would be obliged to accept an accomodation with the South

6] that Britain had the necessary military, economic and political resources to coerce the Unionists into accepting a united Ireland

Argues against island territorialism from cases of Cyprus, Hispaniola 11.65 divided between Haiti and Dominican

Republic (5.65), Falklands (ie. Beagle Islands), and also Wales and Scotland.


1] UNIQUELY the central govt. seeks to [...] get rid of an area where its supporters are in the majority

2] British Govt. forgot the Britishness of the [Ulster Unionist] community]

3] as result of setting up NI the region came to be considered more a subject of foreign than domestic policy

4] consistently feared offending Dublin

5] By adopting a policy of containment of terrorism rather than defeat successive govts. have abandoned the first principle [...] that the greatest encouragement is the prospect of victory [and] the greatest disincentive is the certainty of defeat

6] swallowing the nationalist line that the majority should never rule again

7] deliberate and continual frustration of Unionist politicians and democratic parties would ensure the rise of the UVF

8 [thus encouraging] most backward and anti-liberal, anti-progressive and criminal forces in the island of Ireland, Orange or Green

IT IS ONLY JUSTICE THAT THE PATHETIC POLICY OF SUCCESSIVE BRITISH GOVTS. HAS PLEASED NO ONE. For Irish nationalists Unionists may be weakened by the unionism has not been overthrown; for Unionist democracy and defence have been subverted with no perceptible gains in terms of either a deminution of violence or reconciliation. [...] [143]

like nationalists, Unionists see themselves as victims [144]


SOLUTION: Examines the case of S. Tyrol, and reinterprets [after Prof. Theodore Veiter] the right to self-determination under the Charter of the United Nations to mean the right of a people or group to decide freely what legislative and administrative power in the cultural and possibly other fields it might be necessary to have in order to maintain and develop its cultural characteristics an separate identity, and to demand these from the host state. Separation would only be sought as a last resort [...] [149]

to lift the uncertainty attached to the territorial destiny of N Ireland and for all concerned to concentrated on building sinstitutional structures to enable both communities in the province, with parity of esteem, to live together peacefully [...] in [...] their own home. [150 END]

BIBL incl.:

  • Culture and Identity, speech by the Sec. of State for N. Ireland, Sir patrick Mayhew, at UUC [Coleraine], 16 Dec. 1992
  • Veritas Splendor (Cath. Truth Soc. 1993)
  • AAlen, F H A, Man and the Landscape in Ireland (Academic Press 1978)
  • Adamson, Ian, the Cruthin (Pretani Press 1974)
  • Adamson, Ian, The Ulster People (Pretani Press 1991)
  • Aughey, A., Ulster Under Siege – Ulster Unionism and the Anglo-Irish Agreement (Blackstaff 1989)
  • Bell, J Bowyer, The Secret Army – The IRA 1916-1979 [3rd ed.] (Academic Press 1979)
  • Black, R D C, Economic Thought and the Irish Question 1817-1870 (Cambridge UP 1960)
  • Bowman, J, De Valera and the Ulster Question (OUP 1989)
  • Brady, C., and R. Gillespie, eds., Natives and Newcomers (IAP 1986)
  • Brown, T, Ireland – A Social and Cultural History 1922-1979 (Glasgow:Collins Fontana 1981)
  • Buckland, P., A History of Northern Ireland (G&M 1981)
  • Canny, N, From Reformation to Restoration: Ireland 1534-1600 (Dub:Criterion Press 1987)
  • Darby, J., Conflict in Northern Ireland (G&M 1976)
  • Edwards, R W D, and M O’Dowd, Sources for Early Modern Irish History 1534-1641 (Cambridge UP 1985)
  • Farrell, M., The Orange State (Pluto 1976)
  • Faulkner, Brian, Memoirs of a Statesman (Weidenfeld & Nicholson 1978)
  • Flackes, W D, Northern Ireland: A Political Directory 1968-1988 (G&M 1989)
  • Graham, B., and L J Proudfoot, An Historical Geography of Ireland (IAP/Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 1993)
  • Green, A S, History of the Irish State to 1014 (Macmillan 1925)
  • Hadfield, B., Northern Ireland: Politics and the Constitution (Open UP 1992)
  • Harbinson, J F, The Ulster Unionist Party 1882-1973 (Blackstaff 1973)
  • Hechter, Michael, Internal Colonisation: The Celtic Fringe in British National Development 1536-1966 (Routledge & Kegan Paul 1975)
  • Hezlett, Sir A, The B Specials (Pan 1973) [recte Hezlet]
  • Hindley, R., The Death of the Irish Language (Routledge 1990)
  • Hunter, J., Unionism (Ulster Unionist Council 1993)
  • Kennedy, D., The Widening Gulf: Northern Atttiudes to the Independent Irish State 1919-1949 (Blackstaff 1988)
  • Killen, W D, Ecclesiastical History of Ireland, 2 vols (Macmillan 1875)
  • Knox, R B, James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh (Cardiff:Univ. of Wales P 1967)
  • Longford, Lord, Peace by Ordeal (Sidgwick & jackson 1972)
  • Loughrey, P., the People of Ireland (Appletree 1988)
  • Lucy, G., The Ulster Covenant (Antrim:New Ulster Publ. 1989)
  • Lyons, F S L, Culture and Anarchy in Ireland 1890-1939 (OUP 1979)
  • Lyons, F S L, Ireland Since the Famine (Collins Fontana 1973)
  • O Huallachain, C., The Irish Language in Society (UU 1991)
  • O’Neill, Terence, Autobiography (Hart-Davis 1972)
  • Otway-Ruthven, A J, History of Medieval Ireland (Benn 1968)
  • Pakenham, Thomas, The Year of Liberty (Hodder & Stoughton 1969)
  • Pollard, H B C, The Secret Societies of Ireland (Phillip Allan 1922)
  • Rose, Richard, Governing Without Consensus (Faber 1971)
  • Smyth, C., Ireland’s Physical Force Tradition Today (Lurgan:Ulster Soc. 1989)
  • Stewart, A T Q, The Ulster Crisis (Faber 1967)
  • Trimble, D., the Foundation of Northern Ireland (Lurgan:Ulster Soc. 1991)
  • White, B., John Hume – Statesman of the Troubles (Blackstaff 1984)
  • Whyte, J H, Church and State in Modern Ireland (G&M 1980)
  • Wilson, T., Ulster – Conflict and Consent (Blackwell 1989)
  • Woodham-Smith, C., The Great Hunger (Hamish Hamilton 1964).
  • notes also make references to:
  • Heslinga, M. W., The Irish Border as a Cultural Divide (Assen:Van Gotam 1962).
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