Personally SPEAKING: Father Sean McManus, President of the Irish National Caucus, Calls on Unionist Leaders to Consign "The Supremacist Philosophy" to the History Books

The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), June 6, 2002 | Go to article overview

Personally SPEAKING: Father Sean McManus, President of the Irish National Caucus, Calls on Unionist Leaders to Consign "The Supremacist Philosophy" to the History Books


Byline: Sean McManus

In 1955 William Faulkner, the famed American writer, dashed off a letter to a newspaper in Memphis.

It said: "We speak now against the day when our Southern people who will resist to the last these inevitable changes in social relations, will, when they have been forced to accept what they at one time might have accepted with dignity and good will, will say: 'Why didn't someone tell us this before? Tell us this in time?' "

How aptly this applies to a significant section of Northern Ireland Unionists. A large section of Protestants - who are my Ulster brothers and sisters in Christ, and whom I love and respect - have been badly served by their leaders - leaders who did not "tell them this in time".

The "inevitable changes in social relations" of which Faulkner spoke can be summed up in one word - equality. And just as many whites in the American South were reluctant to accept African-Americans as equals, so too, I fear many Protestants are reluctant to accept the concept that Catholics are their equals, in every way.

This, I fear, is at the heart of the large Protestant rejection of the Good Friday Agreement. I hope this is not harsh. Indeed, I hope I am wrong, but I fear I'm right.

After segregation was defeated in the Deep South, African-Americans had to still struggle against a subtler form of discrimination. While they were no longer subjected to the obnoxious N-word, they nonetheless had to still battle against the use of racial code words. So for example, African-Americans in the Eighties often perceived President Reagan's attack on crime, affirmative action and the welfare system as really attacks on them.

Could the same be said of the constant and relentless attacks on Sinn Fein by unionist leaders? …

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