Irish Republican News · October 20, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Ian knows a thing or two about fascism

By Anne Cadwallader (for Daily Ireland)

Baroness May Blood and others are correct in one sense. It’s a reasonable assumption to make, after both President McAleese and Fr Alex Reid compared unionist domination to the Nazis, that this is a sub-conscious psychological thread in the minds of many Northern Catholics.

I suspect it is one that is internally rejected after rational contemplation, however, and that it only emerges in public after intense provocation and with immediate and genuine regret.

No sane person could possibly equate unionist political, social, economic and cultural discrimination against Northern Catholics with the Nazi persecution of the Jews.

Both Fr Alex Reid and President McAleese are intelligent, thoughtful, Christian people and neither rationally believes the literal truth of what they said.

Most of those on their high horses, including both DUP and Ulster Unionist politicians, cannot either believe, in private, that either individual genuinely meant what they said. Many Catholics, however, subliminally believe some aspects of how they, their families and their forebears were treated by unionism bear a resemblance to the way the Nazis treated the Jews. But are there any real similarities?

The Nazis blamed the Jews for all the economic ills of the pre-World War II German state. They believed in an international Jewish conspiracy against the Teutonic people. They herded Jews into ghettos and regarded them as sub-human.

In our case, some unionists blame an alleged Catholic/Irish “fecklessness” for their lower economic performance. An inability or reluctance to work. A lack of the Protestant work ethic. That is racism, nothing less.

Some unionists say the economic miracle south of the Border only came about not because of hard work and intelligent planning but because the Irish “held their hands out” to Brussels and were amply rewarded. That is racist too.

The Orange Order operates a shady loan and land-bank scheme to prevent Catholics getting their grubby hands on “Protestant land”. Until fair employment laws stopped them, some Protestant employers were reluctant to hire Catholics.

In religious matters, some Protestants, certainly those of Ian Paisley’s ilk, believe in an international Vatican-driven conspiracy to return them into the clutches of Rome.

Catholics have most certainly found themselves living in ghettos (west Belfast, the New Lodge, Ardoyne, the Short Strand) for reasons of safety after repeated loyalist pogroms dating back to the 1920s.

When Protestants vacate land, such as in north Belfast at this time, unionists use every trick in the book to prevent Catholics, who desperately need homes, from moving across the peaceline into “their” territory.

This is not to call unionists Nazis. It is, however, to point out that there are more than passing similarities between the way the 1930s German political elite treated Jews with the way Catholics have been treated in this state, into which they were abandoned by the South.

Like many others, I groaned internally when I heard what Fr Reid had said. I had been turned down for an interview many times over the years. Then, after a lifetime’s discretion, he appears to have blown it at a meeting where he had, ironically, hoped to encourage unionist confidence in his status as an honest broker over decommissioning.

In his defence, he had been subjected at the meeting to ridiculous accusations that the Redemptorist Monastery at Clonard had been “a haven for IRA men” and “used to store weapons in the 1970s”.

Leading the charge against Fr Reid was Ian Paisley’s DUP. Ian Paisley’s own past does not stand up to much scrutiny when it comes to moderation and respect for other creeds and cultures.

Has he, for example, ever apologised, or been asked to apologise, for his words of June 1959?

“You people of the Shankill Road,” an eyewitness heard him say (quoted in Paisley by Ed Moloney and Andy Pollak), “what’s wrong with you? Number 425 Shankill Road. Do you know who lives there? Pope’s men, that’s who.”

“Fortes’ ice cream shop. Italian papists on the Shankill Road,” he said, adding that Catholics now lived at 56 Aden Street and 38 Crimea Street. His followers duly attacked Catholic shops and homes.

An elderly lady from Newington in north Belfast, now passed on, once told me of how her family home on the Old Lodge Road had been daubed with a cross one afternoon in the 1950s after one of Paisley’s meetings in the area.

They knew what it meant and immediately moved out to live in a house offered by a Protestant gentleman in Glengormley. As they left, they saw the mob torching their old home. Shades of Kristallnacht.

In 1968, after loyalist attacks in Belfast, Paisley said Catholic homes had caught fire because they were “loaded with petrol bombs”. The disparity in Catholic/Protestant unemployment rates, he said was because Catholics bred like “rabbits” and multiplied like “vermin”.

After the UUP decided to run a Jewish candidate, Harold Smith, he said: “The Unionist party are boasting he is a Jew. As a Jew, he rejects our Lord Jesus Christ, the New Testament, Protestant principles, the Glorious Reformation and the sanctity of the Lord’s day.”

Has anyone even thought to ask Mr Paisley to apologise for words he wrote in a Free Presbyterian booklet in 1982? Words such as the following: Rome is “a debauched, degraded, filthy, incestuous, adulterous monster. Her popes, her cardinals and her priests all lived in a state of the most monstrous villainy.”

The Vatican is a “murderess, the Antichrist” and the papacy is “the seed of the serpent, the offspring of Belial and the progeny of hell. Her eye gleams with the serpent’s light. Her clothes reek of the brimstone of the pit.”

“There is no night as dark as papal midnight. No dungeon so loathsome as that of the Woman of Babylon. No chains so fettering as the chains of the Antichrist of the Seven Hills. No slavery so degrading as the slavery of the Mother of Harlots.”

“The dog will return to its vomit. The washed sow will return to its wallowing in the mire, but by God’s grace we will never return to Popery.”

Let’s come right up to date. On May 24 this year, Mr Paisley referred to the SDLP leader, Mark Durkan, as “another apologist for terrorists. He has mixed so long with the fascists of Sinn Féin, built up into their present strength by the helping hand of the SDLP, that he is blotched with fascism himself.”

Any apology sought for or given to Mr Durkan? Not as far as I know. Or to David Trimble, of whom Paisley said in a 2001 annual conference speech: “If David Trimble is a unionist, then Bin Laden is an American patriot.”

Fascism, Paisley once said, is the “child of Romanism”. Knows a lot about fascism, does our Ian.

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