This is a very good letter which was published today in ‘The Belfast Newsletter’ and is worthy to be read and circulated by all who remember with joy what the Lord did through and for our forefathers in the time of the ‘Home Rule Crisis’!
I am sorry the Queen is unwell but do not regret the fact she missed the Armagh service, which barely acknowledged Northern Ireland or its losses.
The most striking thing about the service in Armagh was the total avoidance of any suggestion by any of the church leaders that the creation of Northern Ireland was something which should be celebrated.
There was no acknowledgement of the fact that people — many people — died to preserve the existence of Northern Ireland or that there was an attempt by a violent minority to overthrow the democratic will of the people of Northern Ireland.
I’m sorry that Her Majesty the Queen is unwell. But I don’t regret that She missed that service.
The most prominent voice among the clergy was that of Archbishop Eamon Martin who used the platform to preach nationalist politics. I’m open to correction but I didn’t hear any Protestant minister counter that.
Yet the centenary of Northern Ireland should be a cause of celebration.
For one thing 100 years on we know that the cry of our forefathers — ‘Home Rule is Rome Rule’ — was bang on the money. Archbishop Martin wouldn’t admit this but there are many people who now live in the Republic who have cause to regret the ‘special position’ his church was granted in the 26 counties which seceded from the United Kingdom.
Furthermore, for all the talk of discrimination in Northern Ireland there was only one part of Ireland where the minority community reduced by 90%.
Northern Ireland stood against the greatest evil of the 20th century, Fascism while the prime minister of the Free State signed a book of condolence at the German embassy — which operated in Dublin throughout the war — opened on news of the death of Hitler.
People like to complain about unionist misrule yet every IRA campaign pre 1969 fizzled out — with the Border Campaign being called off in 1962 because, by the IRA’s own admission, the “attitude of the general public” was against them even inside nationalism.
It took another decade before discontent could be stirred to a point which resulted in 30 years of violence. And it didn’t end when the supposed cause was removed with the abolition of the old Stormont — because the old Stormont was never the cause.
I’m thankful for the sacrifice of those who died to defend the democratic will of the people of Northern Ireland to remain in the UK. That was a noble thing to die for.
I’m thankful that in spite of the most intense terrorist campaign in Western Europe Northern Ireland remained a functioning democracy which afforded everyone the same democratic rights.
I’m thankful that the distinct identity of Northern Ireland which existed before the border was created by the Free State opting to leave us still exists today.
I’m thankful that Northern Ireland exists because half a million men and women signed the Ulster Covenant in a mass exercise of popular democracy. Our founding document is not one signed by seven lunatics who took it on themselves to speak for a mythical nation from which they had no democratic mandate.
I’m thankful for forefathers and mothers who drew inspiration from the Scottish Covenant.
I’m thankful that there are people still in Northern Ireland who worship the God of the Covenant — not the Scottish or the Ulster but the Biblical.
I thank God for Northern Ireland.
It’s just a shame no one on Thursday could manage to say that.