Ulster Protestants, especially those of previous generations, feared a united Ireland! Their fears were well based and succinctly expressed in the slogan of our forefathers in the early years of the last century when they mustered together to resist by every legitimate means the imposition of a Dublin-led 32-county Irish state, with Protestant Ulster being thus forced out of the United Kingdom and deprived of their British citizenship.
That slogan was ‘FOR GOD AND ULSTER’.
The place given to the Roman Catholic Church in the 1937 Constitution’ of the 26-county ‘Irish Free State’, which became the Republic of Ireland in 1937, illustrates that the prominence given to Popery was exactly that which our forefathers recognised would be so.
For them, the issue was essentially a religious one. Again they adopted a slogan to give expression to opposition. ‘HOME RULE IS ROME RULE’. What they feared became a central feature of the Dublin-ruled 26 counties.
At the partition of Ireland in 1922, 92.6% of the south’s population were Roman Catholic while 7.4% were Protestant. By the 1960s, the Protestant population had fallen by half, mostly due to the enforced emigration of those Protestants terrorised out of their homes and properties by the IRA in the early years of Irish independence. Most, if not all, moved into Northern Ireland.
Roman Catholicism was given an undefined “special position” on the basis of being the church of the majority. As an act of ‘window dressing’ in the 1970s, that “special position” provision was removed from the Constitution. The decision was ratified by a referendum which had a %50 turn out with 721,033 saying YES and 133,430 saying NO.
During the 1950s the Catholic Integrist group Maria Duce, led by Irish Catholic priest Denis Fahey, launched a campaign to amend the original “special position”of the Constitution of Ireland.
Fahey argued that the status given to the Roman Catholic Church was insufficient and that the Constitution should recognise the Catholic Church as being divinely ordained and separate from ‘man-made’ religions. The campaign succeeded in securing some support but made little progress. It did show the position that Rome thought should be hers.
The decision to amend the Constitution and remove the “special position” of Rome, was mere window dressing promoted by the ’spirit’ of Ecumenism then rampant in the mainline churches. That ‘spirit’ being pro-Romanism, was very much pro-united Ireland!
It is still very much so!!
The mind of ‘Westminster’ back in 1912 has not changed. The recent controversy over the ‘Windsor Framework’, with its undermining of the position of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is but another attempt to do what the British Government failed to do some 110 years ago.
However, it is clear that today’s ‘Loyalist’ is not made of the same stern stuff as were our forefathers. Evidence of that is seen in the stance taken by that the party which led the resistance against the the ‘Home Rule Bills’ of 1886, 1893, 1912-14, and which today is known as the “Ulster Unionist Party’.
On Tuesday 21st March, the ‘Belfast Newsletter’ announced that “The Ulster Unionist Party in effect gave its approval to a border in the Irish Sea.” In other words it was backing the ‘Windsor Framework’ which had been rejected by the majority of Unionist here and many in the Conservative Party, which has pushed through the ‘fraudulent’ ‘Windsor Framework’, which falls far short of the constitutional safeguards and the overturning of the ‘Brexit Protocol’ threats to Northern Ireland’s position in the United Kingdom, that Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak falsely claims it contains.
In the light of this and the very doubtful position of the Democratic Unionist Party on the issue, a ‘United Ireland’ looms larger on the political horizon than ever before.
Will it come? Well, judging by the actions of the leading Unionist party, the DUP, in its embracing power-sharing with Sinn Fein/IRA, its embracing within its ranks the evil of sodomy and the LGBT+ agenda, its failure to resist the Westminster enforced murderous abortion laws and its shilly-shallying over the ‘‘Windsor Framework’, I have no doubt, subject to God’s sovereignty, that Unionism will yield to a United Ireland.
My conclusion is reinforced by the fact that the mainline churches, corrupted as they are by ecumenism and liberal theology, would offer no resistance to such a development, but rather support such a move.
I will not enlarge here upon my understanding of God’s Word regarding the political and spiritual circumstances that will dominate this part of the world, in what I believe is the very near future, when the political and geographical essence of the old Roman Empire will reemerge under the governance of the Antichrist. The territory of the old Roman Empire included mainland Britain as far north as the Scottish border. Ireland and Scotland were not within that empire. For that reason also, I believe we will see geographical and political changes within these islands that will result in the fulfillment of the prediction of God’s Word.
But what should a Christian do should a United Ireland come about?
Well, to my mind there are three options which I will set forth.
1. THERE IS THE ‘OUT OF THE FRYING PAN INTO THE FIRE’ OPTION.
This has already been mentioned by a former DUP leader, Arlene Foster, Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee. It was widely reported what her reaction to a United Ireland would be. Here is how the ‘Belfast Telegraph’ reported her reaction to such an event. “DUP leader Arlene Foster ‘would not assimilate’ in a united Ireland”. The headlines in the ‘Irish News’ stated the same response. “Arlene Foster insists she would ‘move away’ in event of united Ireland”.
For a Christian to contemplate such a move they must ask the question, ‘Where is better?’
When Lot considered where he would move to when things became somewhat overcrowded for him and his uncle’s flocks, his eye looked upon the financial, commercial aspects of the options open to him and because “all the plain of Jordan, . . . . was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other,” Genesis 13:10-11.
Doubtless there would be many places which would offer much better brighter commercial and monetary prospects than would life in a united Ireland. But we would do well to remember the words of the Lord Jesus. “And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” Luke 12:15.
In pursuing ‘life’s comforts’ we may find ourselves in a ’Sodom’. Indeed, just where would you go today to avoid the atmosphere of that evil place?
Life in a ‘United Ireland’ would not be ideal. It would be far from the Ulster I grew up in but I believe that the British Mainland would be far more uninviting to a Christian than Ulster would be, even in a ‘United Ireland’!
Another option which I think might appeal to some is:
2. ‘LET’S HAVE THE ATTITUDE TO THE GOVERNMENT OF ANY FUTURE ‘UNITED IRELAND’ THAT IRISH REPUBLICANS ADOPTED HERE IN NORTHERN IRELAND’!
From the inception of Northern Ireland, Roman Catholics living with the borders of the six counties which decided to remain in the United Kingdom rather than join a ‘United Ireland’, adopted, almost to a man, a belligerent defiant refusal to cooperate with the authorities of the new state. This varied from a sullenness of attitude and a begrudging compliance to outright terrorism by the IRA. Now, I hasten to say that not all Roman Catholics were terrorists but the experience of the Ulster Protestant is that of recognising that generally speaking there was sympathy with the objectives of IRA terrorism if not downright support for their bombing and murder. Too many Roman Catholic properties and Roman Catholic clerics and prominent Roman Catholic personages were openly linked to IRA terrorism for such an estimation of the reaction of the Roman Catholic to Northern Ireland, for such an assessment to be too far removed from the truth!
The unpalatable, noxious, resentful and begrudging contribution to the general well-being of the new state, which marked the public persona of many Roman Catholics and which Protestants have had to live with for over 100 years, is so unappealing for such an attitude to prove attractive to any person who desires the comfort and security of their neighbours to adopt!
The development of an alien, antagonistic community within Northern Ireland was a fly in the ointment. It had a debilitating, antagonising impact, That spirit was well manifested in the advice given by a Nationalist politician to his constituents by way of disrupting the smooth running of government affairs. He said: ‘When you receive any communication from a government agency, burn it. When a second letter comes, if it requires you to reply, make mistakes. That will require yet a further letter from the government agency and thus yon can multiply the cost of government!’ He made no secret of his malevolent scheme. Indeed, he was proud of such hostile obstructionism.
There is nothing honourable or righteous or noble about such a frame of mind. IRA murderers have been buried amidst salutations and glorifying kudos paid to them and monuments erected on their graves and ballads composed and sung aplenty.
But the ballad-singing and the eulogising will end on that day when God will call such from the grave on “the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds,” Romans 2:5-6.
No one will want to so live as to reap such an eternal ‘reward’!
I must say that such was not the attitude of ALL Roman Catholics. I have met many in my lifetime who, I believe, did not support the murder of Protestants. During my time in Ulster Television and in my many years here in my native west of Ulster, I have encountered Roman Catholics who were good neighbours. Many Roman Catholics suffered much under the ‘slavery’ imposed upon them by rapid Republicans and they could not voice displeasure with the IRA campaign or they would suffer the consequences. Jean McConville, who was shot because she sought to comfort a soldier shot down by the IRA near her home, is a prime example. She was kidnapped and taken across the border and murdered, some have publicly stated, at the direct command of Gerry Adams!
You may read something of her story here: The Disappeared Mother of 10
We come now to my third option and it is the option that I would support.
3. THE ‘LET’S OBEY THE BIBLE’ OPTION.
The Bible was written in many instances to those in far worse circumstances than would pertain for a faithful Protestant in a ‘United Ireland’.
Paul wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica, in today’s Greece, these words. “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,” 2 Thessalonians 1:7. The circumstances that prevailed in Paul’s own life are such that it is very unlikely that a ‘United Ireland’ would prove so hostile. He explains:
“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you,” 2 Corinthians 4:8-12.
The Roman Empire was no friend to the gospel of Jesus Christ and those who embraced it by faith yet the Lord required of them to be good citizens, submissive to the law, where it did not entail disobedience to God’s Law.
Consider these verses.
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God,” Romans 13:1.
“Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour,” Romans 13:5-7.
“Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,” Titus 3:1.
“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: as free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God,” 1 Peter 2:13-16.
I mentioned that the only time we are required to reject the law of the land is when it demands of us that which is forbidden by God. We have an example of this given us in Daniel chapter 2.
“Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up,” verses 1-5.
The response of godly Jews, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, all of whom held high office in the empire of Nebuchadnezzar, is our example to follow. “But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up,” Daniel 3:18.
This they did whether or not God spared their lives. They would obey God and disobey the king.
Well we know the wonderful deliverance they enjoyed, one that has not always pleased the Lord to grant to his persecuted people.
“Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire. And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them,” Daniel 3:26-27.
I could add to this example, the story of Daniel’s deliverance when he found himself in similar circumstances but like his friends, he defied the evil law and God delivered him, this time it was from lions. You may read the wonderful history of it in Daniel chapter 6.
Daniel and his friends and I could add the names of Ezra, Nehemiah, Mordecai, Esther and Ezekiel, all of whom found themselves under the rule of heathen authorities but who yielded submission to such laws as were righteous under which they found themselves.
There is a time to resist and fight the attempts to deprive us of our God-given freedoms. But there is also a time when to submit is God’s will.
Those named above found themselves under the authority of pagan kings because of the sins the name of Israel had committed and for which they had been given into the hands of their enemies.
The Lord had repeatedly warned Israel of such an outcome to their disobedience and rebellion. Here is but one such warning. “And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant: I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it,” Leviticus 26:15-16.
The prime example in the Old Testament of such a judgment falling, took place in the days of Jeremiah. His God-given message to the disobedient people was simple but both hard to preach and hard to hear and harder still, I suppose, to obey.
“And it shall come to pass, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation will I punish, saith the LORD, with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand. Therefore hearken not ye to your prophets, nor to your diviners, nor to your dreamers, nor to your enchanters, nor to your sorcerers, which speak unto you, saying, Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon: For they prophesy a lie unto you, to remove you far from your land; and that I should drive you out, and ye should perish. But the nations that bring their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him, those will I let remain still in their own land, saith the LORD; and they shall till it, and dwell therein,” Jeremiah 27:8-11.
Refusal to submit to the judgment of God was tantamount to defying God and claiming they had not sinned and that He was unjust in punishing them! Thus they multiplied their culpability!
Those I have listed above all were in submission to the judgment of God, which is a central element of repentance for sin, and yield themselves to God’s providential will.
I have no doubt that if a ‘United Ireland’ comes about, it will be a judgment from the Lord upon Ulster for the unfaithfulness and defiance of its Protestant people.
For nearly a century Ulster has been warned of the departure from God’s Word within in the main ‘Protestant’ denominations. They have rejected the Bible! They have embraced the ecumenical ‘Romeward Trend’! They have refused the testimony of God’s faithful servants on these matters!
Furthermore, they have shut their eyes to the affliction of IRA terrorism that the Lord sent as a judgment upon our Province. Remember Leviticus 26:15. “And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant: I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror . . . .”
Hundreds have been slaughtered by terrorists, thousands have been maimed and injured by the same. And yet despite this, Ulster has sinned more, embracing sodomy, the perversion of same-sex marriage and has welcomed unto our streets those that brazenly flout the law of God and rejoice in the same. (see – Alliance Party and TUV row over proposal for Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council to organise annual LGBT+ Pride event)
All the political parties have abandoned God’s Word as the rule of decency and order. Despite many professing Christians being active in the DUP and many more supporting it by their presence and money, that party has within its ranks those who openly flaunt their sodomite perversity and many others support such!
Without a doubt judgment is coming and when it does, it likely will result in the loss of that which our fathers by their stand for ‘God and Ulster’ secured for us but which this generation has cast away.
When that happens, then the will of God for His people is still the same as it has ever been in such circumstances.
“And it came to pass after ten days, that the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah. Then called he Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces which were with him, and all the people from the least even to the greatest, and said unto them, Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto whom ye sent me to present your supplication before him; If ye will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent me of the evil that I have done unto you. Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith the LORD: for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand. And I will shew mercies unto you, that he may have mercy upon you, and cause you to return to your own land. But if ye say, We will not dwell in this land, neither obey the voice of the LORD your God, Saying, No; but we will go into the land of Egypt, where we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor have hunger of bread; and there will we dwell: and now therefore hear the word of the LORD, ye remnant of Judah; thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt, and go to sojourn there; Then it shall come to pass, that the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine, whereof ye were afraid, shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there ye shall die. So shall it be with all the men that set their faces to go into Egypt to sojourn there; they shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: and none of them shall remain or escape from the evil that I will bring upon them. For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; As mine anger and my fury hath been poured forth upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem; so shall my fury be poured forth upon you, when ye shall enter into Egypt: and ye shall be an execration, and an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach; and ye shall see this place no more,” Jeremiah 42:7-18.
Submission to God’s chastisement and humble obedience to His Word will bring upon us, even in a ‘foreign environment’, His blessing and comfort.
Here was His Word to those willing to submit to the His judgment upon erring Israel so long ago.
“Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.
For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the LORD.
For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end,” Jeremiah 29:4-11.
Refusal to act in obedience and accept God’s will shall only multiply the woes that His righteous displeasure have brought and will continue to bring. In the light of His abiding promise to His people, submission to that which our sins have brought upon us from the holy and just hand of God will always see, in the end, the outworking of His gracious purpose for His people.
“I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you . . . . For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”
Rev Ivan Foster (Rtd)
24th March 2023