Post by irishconfederate on Nov 5, 2017 18:54:56 GMT
Northern Catholic Leadership
A factor which must be taken into account in understanding Six-County politics is that the Protestants have more authentic political leadership than the Catholics. As a consequence, they have stronger leadership and constitute a political force which is not merely stronger, but disproportionately stronger, that that of the Catholics.
If the Catholics, over the past two years, had possessed a political leadership as authentic as the Protestants, they would have constituted a much greater political force and would thereby have forced the political issue more rapidly to a real settlement.
What do I mean by saying that the Protestants have “authentic” leadership? I mean that their leaders declare themselves as leaders of the Ulster Protestant people and as spokesmen of the mainstream Ulster Protestant tradition. They don’t pretend to be anything more – or anything less – than that. Profoundly conscious of Ulster Protestant history and identity, they are openly proud of both the words “Protestant”, “Ulster”, “British” – the words with which the vast majority of Protestants understand themselves and define their identity – these are proud and oft-repeated words in their leaders’ mouths.
Consequently, the leadership which these leaders provide has a profound and inspiring resonance in their followers. It strikes home to them, especially to the poorest of them, with moral and emotional power. It touches all that that they are and feel themselves to be – all that is dear to them, even if not to us.
But it is authentic leadership in another way, too. It has a clear overriding aim, namely, the maintenance of Ulster Protestant identity and self-determining power by one means or another, but especially by maintaining the link with Britain.
A by-product of all this is the essential unity of the Protestant leadership despite its contending streams. The source of unity is the frank stance of all the leading elements in Ulster Protestant history, reality and sentiment. But they are also bound together by their broadly common purpose.
By contrast, the Catholic political leadership is shallow, inhibited and rootless. Elected by the Northern Catholics, the last things these leaders will do is declare themselves leaders of the Catholic people and spokesmen of the Catholic Irish tradition in Ulster. To listen to some of them, they might be spokesmen for the rights of some “minority” in Australia or New Zealand.
While the Orange leadership confesses to the Orange, the Green leadership shies away from the Green, shamefacedly or with open aversion. Elected by the Taigs, the Fenians, the Popish bastards, the dispossessed Irish and Catholics of Ulster, they turn their backs on this reality to speak for “non-Unionists”, “the minority”, “the working class” even for “the Protestant working class” which hates them. They describe themselves as “anti-Unionists”, as “socialists”, as spokesmen for humanity, democracy, civil rights or similar abstractions – never as leaders of the Taigs they spring from.
As a result, there is no resonance, no historical dimension, no profoundly human or emotional force in the Catholic leadership. Leaders of non-peoples whom they invent in place of their real, historic people, they end up calling on “non-Unionists” to engage in a non-violent campaign of non-payment of rents and rates. The “non” describes them.
The basic reason for this non-leadership is that the Catholic leaders have largely succumbed to the propaganda which tells them that “Catholics” are not respectable people, are non-people. Consequently, they feel, the Catholic people of the Six Counties have no right to a place of their own in politics.
The inauthentic nature of the Catholic leadership explains a great deal. It explains the relative weakness of the Catholics as a political force and the vast disunity of their leadership. A leadership without roots in history or reality means a leadership flying this way and that, distracted by every incident and fashion. It explains why, even today, the suffering Northern Catholics are without any clear political aim; their leaders have proposed none – or have proposed a dozen and made none of them paramount.
The inauthenticity of the Catholic political leadership explains the rise to power of the IRA, especially of the Provisionals. They supplied the strength, the genuine representation, the self-respect, the sense of history and Irishness, which the Catholics of the ghettoes were not getting from their elected leaders.
The Catholic people of the Six Counties are something greater than the “non-Unionist population” – to quote Mr Lynch’s choice description of them. They are not an anonymous mass characterised merely by not being Unionist, that is to say, in terms of their enemies. They are the historic Irish nation in Ulster. Only if they find leaders to lead them as such – on these terms- will they have an authentic leadership, achieve their full political strength and win the status and power due to them. Only then will they have leaders to match in strength Brian Faulkner, Desmond Baul, William Craig or Ian Paisley.
Desmond Fennell, 1973