A Happy St Patrick’s Day to all H&D readers worldwide

St Patrick

This article was first published in Heritage and Destiny magazine, #71 (March-April 2016), but is still very valid today. (See also our article on ‘St Patrick: Patron Saint of the USA?‘)

Enoch Powell’s Suppressed Article (on St Patrick, Ulster and the Scots Irish Identity) Rediscovered – with introduction by Peter Rushton, H&D Assistant Editor

After the Conservatives returned to government under Margaret Thatcher in 1979, Enoch Powell hoped Ulster’s status as an integral part of the United Kingdom would be reaffirmed. Some of the leading figures on Thatcher’s wing of the Conservative Party were Powellites, and until the eve of the 1979 election the Tories’ Northern Ireland spokesman had been Airey Neave – a strong and determined Unionist. Tragically Neave was murdered by a car bomb at the House of Commons in March 1979, and his successors pursued a very different policy: commitment to Ulster’s identity was progressively weakened through the 1980s.

Powell came to believe that the CIA had a hand in Airey Neave’s murder, and it is now established that MI6 and CIA operatives had been pursuing a deal with the IRA since the mid-1970s.

In January 1981 however (still believing that Thatcher’s government would defend the Union) Powell proposed that the Foreign Office should produce articles and booklets for the American public to explain Ulster’s distinct identity. It was agreed that Powell would write a brief article to be published in U.S. newspapers on St Patrick’s Day (17th March 1981) and that a 1965 booklet – Scotch-Irish and Ulster – would be reprinted, both with Foreign Office support.

Although Powell submitted the article and welcomed republication of the pamphlet, both were sidelined: the anti-Ulster faction in Whitehall and Washington triumphed. The article and related official correspondence remained classified until February 2015, and H&D now reveals the story for the first time after I obtained the documents from the National Archives.

Enoch Powell on the campaign trail

If St Patrick has a Member to represent him in Parliament, I must surely be that man. My constituency in the House of Commons is Down South, the southern half of the county of Down, which looks across the Irish Sea beyond the Isle of Man to Cumberland and Galloway. From that southern half there projects a peninsula which the ancient geographers were already calling Dunum, or Down; and Downpatrick, the town which stands at the isthmus of that peninsula, happily combines the name of the place and that of the British missionary with a late Roman surname who we believe brought Christianity from the largest to the second largest of the British Isles.

The peninsula where he landed, baptised his first converts, built his first church and laid his bones to rest has still a palpable individuality. When I drive into it – its traditional name is Lecale – from some other part of my constituency, I am always conscious of crossing a threshold. But the same is just as true of the whole north-eastern part of Ireland to which that peninsula is attached: it is distinct and separate from the rest, as if by a decree of nature. Geographically and geologically it had its own pattern, a mountain ring enclosing an inner central plain, long before man came there at all; and its earliest inhabitants were linked by blood and intercourse with the neighbouring mainland. The passage which St Patrick made was no voyage of exploration: he took a ticket on a two-way traffic route rather like that across the English Channel between Dover and Calais (which in point of fact is somewhat longer).

This north-east part was called “Ulster” centuries before Henry VIII (no friend of St Patrick’s!) used the word to dub one of the four administrative provinces into which he divided his Irish kingdom. Whatever elements, across the centuries, came to Ulster were drawn into its distinct identity. The Norman baron who, with a handful of knights and the king’s permission, rode north from Dublin into Ulster in the 1170s founded an independent principality – the earldom of Ulster, which is today held by the Queen’s cousin, the Duke of Gloucester. Into Ulster flowed settlers from England and Wales as well as from Scotland, long before the Plantation of James I; and the separateness of the province claimed and enveloped them all.

St Patrick’s grave

That happened pre-eminently to those Scots who were the major element in the settlement of the forfeited lands at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Research has proved that they by no means displaced the earlier Ulstermen so comprehensively as was intended and is often believed. It is also true that they only represented one, albeit the largest, of a series of contingents earlier and later who returned across the narrow North Channel to the land from which the ancestors of many of them had originally come in remote, even prehistoric times. The great fact, however, is that, like the rest, they became part of Ulster.

The vocabulary of American history has called those people Scotch Irish. The truer name is that by which they liked, and still like, to call themselves – Ulster Scots. For they were indeed, and remain in virtue of many ties, Scots; but above all they were Ulstermen. This therefore was the Ulster, unique from its beginning, which contributed a disproportionate share – including at least ten presidents – to the foundation and to the spirit of the American nation right from the origins of its independence. It is a contribution as distinct from the rest, and as distinctive, as any other, whether Irish, English or Scots.

The modern search for national roots is, I believe, as healthy as it is popular and expanding. It has already brought many Americans, and not only those with demonstrable ancestral ties, to Ulster, to learn on the spot – the only sure way – the truth about its past and its present. Those who come are coming to the place which, of all spots on the globe, is peculiarly and forever St Patrick’s. On his day America is remembered in Ulster, as Ulster ought to be remembered in America.

Editor’s note: J. Enoch Powell (1912-1998) was Ulster Unionist MP for South Down, 1974-87, having earlier been Conservative MP for Wolverhampton South West, 1950-74. His career in Conservative politics ended when he was sacked as the party’s defence spokesman in April 1968, following his famous “Rivers of blood” speech which criticised Britain’s racial transformation, which can be read online here.

St Patrick – The Patron Saint of the USA?

St Patrick

Editor’s note: The following article was written seven years ago, but the same issues are still being discussed in Loyalist circles today – now mainly on internet forums. So its fitting that we republish it on the run-up to this years St Patrick’s Day. The article “Enoch Powell’s Suppressed Article Rediscovered”, on St Patrick, which we published in issue 71 of H&D certainly added fuel to the (Loyalist) bonfire!

It was America that spawned the St Patrick’s Day parade, not Ireland, and its origins are both Protestant and British…As March 17th approaches, the annual debate has reignited on whether Unionism should embrace St Patrick and the day set aside for his commemoration. Over the last five years there has been a slow emergence of Protestant participation on the date, though that has been via the creation of new events rather than involvement in existing ones. This article examines the origin of St Patrick’s Day parades, this new emerging trend, its motivation and where it may possibly lead.

The question ‘where is the biggest St Patrick’s Day parade in Northern Ireland?’ at first glance would appear easily answered. Belfast most would say, with a few probably suggesting the Cathedral City of Armagh or even where he was allegedly laid to rest, Downpatrick. What will surprise many is that the largest parade for the last few years by sheer number of participants has been in the small County Armagh village of Killylea. It is here since 2005 the Cormeen Rising Sons of William Flute Band have held their annual band procession and competition. Last year the Cormeen parade saw 42 bands take part (in comparison to the seven that paraded at the Dublin event), amounting to approximately 1800 band members. Thousands of spectators stood along the route, despite it being a bitterly cold evening.

Cormeen Rising Sons of William chairman Mark Gibson explains that the bands original motivation for the parade came more out of necessity than anything else. “The band season is very busy, and when trying to find a date for our parade it was difficult to define one that didn’t clash with other bands locally.” Some members suggested March 17 as a solution to the problem, but the band was nervous. “We were concerned about how a St Patrick’s Day parade would go down in our community, the parade in Armagh never was very welcoming, but we made a decision to try it and it has been a success.”

From that initial year where thirteen bands took part, the parade is now among the largest in the Province. It’s not only the number of bands participating that has increased, but also the crowds attending to watch, and the event is increasingly becoming a fixture in the calendar for many Unionists. Another band, the Ulster Protestant Boys Flute Coleraine, have started a similar event on the date that too is growing. The ever increasing scale of both processions indicates clearly that there is certainly a willingness within the PUL (Protestant, Unionist, Loyalist) community to be involved in St Patrick’s Day. Where the schisms emerge are with the issues of why and how.

Cormeen Rising Sons of William Flute Band

It is generally acknowledged that in the distant past Patrick was not a controversial figure for Protestants in Ireland or beyond. His ‘sainthood’ was never conferred by the Pope and pre-dates the reformation, so he was never seen as being the possession of ‘Rome’. St Patrick was seen as an evangelical Christian who had made personal sacrifice to spread the gospel in Ireland. The anniversary of his death was observed and commemorated by all Protestant denominations to different degrees, with the Church of Ireland in particular very active.

The shift from an anniversary of religious significance towards an ‘Irish’ event however first took place in the United States in 1737. In Boston that year the Irish Charitable Society, made up of Protestant immigrants (some of whom were British Soldiers), held their first meeting and dinner. The purpose was to both honour Patrick in the context of their Protestant faith and to reach out the hand of friendship to other Irish immigrants. The exercise obviously struck a chord and the practise spread, with the first recorded parade in New York in 1766, with again British Soldiers of Irish blood heavily involved. It was America that spawned the St Patrick’s Day parade, not Ireland, and its origins are both Protestant and British.

During that period in history the vast majority of Irish immigrants were Presbyterian, however from 1830 it was Catholic arrivals who were in the ascendancy. With that change began an emphasis towards anti-British sentiment in the demonstrations. In the aftermath of the American Revolutionary War anything portrayed as anti-colonial was well received, with even the many original Protestant immigrant descendants non-antagonistic of this motivation. Many British ‘Loyalists’ had left for Canada, and effectively the descendants of the original Protestant Irish settlers remaining saw themselves as primarily American in identity, with all that was left for their original ‘homeland’ of Ireland simply folk memory and sentimentality.

Mike Cronin, author of A History of St Patrick’s Day, states that whilst this tradition was developing, back in Ireland the first parades didn’t take place until the 1840’s and even then they were organised by Temperance societies. Mike emphasises the lack of public celebration “The only other major events in nineteenth century Ireland was a trooping of the colour ceremony and grand ball held at Dublin Castle.” So even as late as 1911 the largest St Patrick’s Day occasion in Ireland was still rooted in a joint Irish and British expression of identity. Protestant churches and some Orange Lodges throughout the island appear to have held minor functions on the date, but these were very subdued affairs, and essentially even post-partition very little changed. Catholic observance of the day continued to different degrees in different areas, as did the Protestant nod to Patrick.

Right up until the 1960s the primary theme of St Patrick’s Day in both Northern Ireland and the Republic still remained religious observance, with even from 1923 to then public houses and bars in the Republic of Ireland closed by law. A poll conducted in 1968 suggested that 20% of Northern Irish Protestants at this stage still considered themselves Irish. The onset of civil unrest in Northern Ireland coincided however with the importation of the American style to St Patrick’s events in Dublin and elsewhere. Now whilst a violent conflict was being waged in the name of all things Irish, St Patrick’s Day parades were starting to display the features that had developed in the United states. On these parades Irish identity was perceived by Northern Protestants as being defined as aggressively anti-British and anti-Protestant, with the disjointed and casual nature of the parades and the now integral alcohol element alien to PUL parading traditions and customs.

The Cross of St Patrick LOL 688

As the IRA campaign escalated, many Protestants simply could not divorce the fact that these celebrations displayed an exclusive form of Irish sentiment whilst a campaign was being waged against them in the name of Ireland. As the years progressed, in Northern Ireland in particular it became apparent that the day was being deliberately used in many instances as an extension of the Irish Republican war against Unionism.

Grand Orange Lodge Director of Services Dr David Hume reiterates the view that in the recent past it has been the nature of the parades and commemorative events that turned Protestants away. “The perception among Unionism is without doubt that Irish Republicanism and Irish Nationalism has used St Patrick’s Day parades as a weapon, effectively using the ‘shield’ of Patrick to express obvious militant anti-British and therefore anti-Unionist sentiment.” David believes that the manner and focus of these events is totally at odds with the purported motivation. “St Patrick’s Day should be used as a day of reflection on the religious significance of Patrick, something far removed from the aggressive and confrontational use of symbolism; and the huge emphasis on alcohol consumption that currently seems to be the case.” David bluntly states that the date isn’t an important one on the ‘Orange’ calendar, but recognises that it does have a place in society.

There remains one annual Orange Order parade related to St Patrick’s Day, which is held each year in Ballymena. One of the participating Lodges is The Cross of St Patrick LOL 688 which was founded in 1967. A lodge spokesperson describes the motivation behind its formation as being “to reclaim the heritage of Saint Patrick” explaining that “Brethren were concerned that Patrick’s heritage was being hijacked by Roman Catholicism and Republicanism.” The lodge’s concerns would appear to have been reflecting the growing sense of alienation the PUL community was feeling regarding St Patricks events.

There is no doubt that this alienation effectively forced many Protestants into an automatically negative position regarding St Patrick’s Day. With the advent of the IRA cessations of violence and the ongoing political process however, it has become apparent that many within Unionism have been able to reflect much more on the meaning of St Patrick’s Day for them. The ending of a violent ‘Irish’ physical campaign has given space to examine the date, with many now realising that it once was a date of relevance that they were forced into denying, and there is a willingness to make it relevant again. Nevertheless this reflection and willingness has not as yet manifested itself into significant participation in civic St Patrick’s Day parades.

With a few exceptions, such as the participation of an unashamedly Loyalist Blood and Thunder band in the 2003 Limerick St Patrick’s Band competition, Unionism still does not feel comfortable taking part in the modern version of a St Patrick’s parade. Concerns still exist regarding the involvement of militant Republicanism in such events along with the aggressive use of flags and symbols, but the problem seems to go much deeper.

St Patrick’s Day in New York (pre-Covid)

Iain Carlisle of the Ulster Scots Community Network has a very straightforward and unambiguous answer regarding Unionist involvement in St Patrick’s Day events. Iain states very clearly “I don’t think there has to be ANY justification given for Protestants or Unionists marking Patrick’s day”, but goes on to say that “there is however a fundamental difference of approach to both Patrick as a person and the means of celebration within the Unionist community”. Iain’s comments would appear to reflect not just a general uncomfortable position with the overtly ‘United Ireland’ underlying St Patrick’s Day theme, but the actual motivation and method of celebration.

All historical examinations of Protestant Irish and their approach and relationship with Patrick indicates that for them he has never truly deviated from having a purely theological relevance. On St Patrick’s Day however the majority of Catholics, Irish Nationalists, Republicans, those of Irish descent and indeed anyone who wants a day out, St Patrick’s significance as a religious icon is purely tokenistic. St Patrick is merely a figurehead for overt Irish nationalism and a holiday. In turn the Unionist tradition of parading has developed from a military perspective and the American style parades are an alien concept, being perceived as being undisciplined and overtly casual.

Whilst new events have arisen, it is obvious that Unionism has no desire to abandon its central belief of Patrick’s religious relevance, and in addition is reluctant to embrace what it sees as an alien approach to parades. Even with the emergence of band parades on the date, they in themselves are a much more disciplined and subdued practise than their counterparts on the day. Whatever the future holds, it is clear that the PUL community is going through an ongoing examination of Patrick and his relevance to them. As journalist Chris Ryder recently pointed out “there will be no going back to the view that St Patrick was a Catholic, and a saint only for Catholics.”

Editor’s note: republished in issue #77 of Heritage and Destiny magazine (March-April 2017)

Secret propaganda unit plotted against John Hume and David Irving

IRD propagandist Hugh Mooney

A new article in the leftwing Irish magazine Village has alleged that the top secret British propaganda unit IRD (the Information Research Department) conspired against John Hume, the moderate Irish nationalist and civil rights activist who died on August 3rd this year.

The article names Hugh Mooney, a former Irish Times sub-editor, and his boss in London, IRD’s Special Operations Adviser Hans Welser.

Coincidentally, H&D has just published a two-part article naming Hans Welser as one of the organisers of a propaganda campaign against the British historian David Irving during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Welser began his propaganda career with the wartime Political Warfare Executive, responsible for numerous ‘dirty tricks’ and inventions designed to discredit and demoralise Germany, Italy and Japan during the Second World War.

Aspects of Britain’s secret wars – and their long-term consequences – are only now becoming partially exposed thanks to the release of long-secret official documents.

Issues 96 and 97 of H&D explore aspects of the secret propaganda war, including the role of Hans Welser. Click here to order back copies.

Mosley’s Irish home for sale

The 12-acre postwar home of Sir Oswald and Lady Mosley has been put on the market by its present owners.

Ileclash is close to Fermoy, Co Cork. It was the second Irish property that the Mosleys owned, having first purchased Clonfert Palace, a 17th century house in East Galway, in 1951.

Lady Mosley’s sister and brother-in-law had already moved to Ireland, and by 1951 it had become clear for various reasons that Mosley’s postwar political revival was running out of steam. A second Mosley revival began at the end of the ’50s, but for the rest of his life (from 1951 to 1980) he and Diana lived in Ireland or France, with occasional visits to London.

Clonfert was severely damaged in a fire at the end of 1953, and at the start of 1955 Mosley bought Ileclash, a 19th century mansion near the River Blackwater, 25 miles north of Cork. It became the Mosleys’ summer home for several years.

Several controversial European political figures settled in Ireland after the war, though recently released Irish government documents show that (despite having remained neutral during the Second World War and having maintained diplomatic relations throughout with National Socialist Germany and Fascist Italy) Ireland’s prime minister Eamon de Valera discouraged prominent national socialist immigrants.

In October 1945 and April 1946 de Valera twice rejected applications by dissident, anti-Hitler national socialist Otto Strasser to take up Irish residency, writing “in present circumstances, it is not possible to accede to your request”. Similar rejection letters were sent to Léon Degrelle, former leader of the Belgian national socialist Rexist Party, who had led an SS Division on the Eastern Front.

Degrelle later settled in Spain, while after a decade in Canadian exile, Otto Strasser eventually returned to Germany.

As British citizens, the Mosleys could not be denied the right of residence in Ireland.

Ileclash is being marketed by Colliers International for €2.75m. The agents describe the property as “one of Ireland’s finest country houses”.

Unlike the vast majority of British nationalist leaders, Sir Oswald Mosley always had significant support among Irishmen, reflected in this postwar Union Movement pamphlet.

Sinn Féin wins Irish election and seeks far-left coalition

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald (above centre), the big winner of last week’s Irish general election, with IRA godfathers Gerry Adams and the late Martin McGuinness

Sinn Féin – political wing of the terrorist IRA – has emerged as largest single-party from the Irish general election, and is now trying to forge a coalition with two leftwing partners – the Greens and the ultra-left party People Before Profit (whose origins in the Socialist Workers Party). It’s not yet clear whether PBP will bring along the other far left parties with whom it formed a joint slate in last week’s elections.

Between them Sinn Féin, the Greens and the far left have 54 members in the new Irish Parliament. While 80 seats are needed for an overall majority, Sinn Féin hope that the remaining parties and independents would be so divided among themselves that this block of 54 could be the core of a new governing coalition. Yet a stable government would surely depend on an agreement with Fianna Fáil, the party that grew out of the anti-treaty IRA in the 1922-23 Irish Civil War, but which has usually distanced itself from the Provisional IRA and its political front in recent years.

Fianna Fáil’s 37 MPs (excluding the Speaker) would give a Sinn Féin domnated coalition with the Greens and far left a total of 91 seats – a comfortable working majority – but reaching agreement ought to be tricky, given that Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin had pledged during the election campaign not to work with Sinn Féin.

The two old establishment parties – Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael – have 72 seats between them, but an ‘old gang’ coalition of this sort might seem like a kick in the teeth for voters who clearly opted for change.

Many non-Irish readers might be mystified by the failure of Fine Gael leader and outgoing prime minister Leo Varadkar, whose apparent triumph in last year’s Brexit negotiations with Boris Johnson seemed to bring the destruction of the Union, and Dublin’s dream of a ‘United Ireland’ closer than ever.

Outgoing Prime Minister Leo Varadkar (above right) seemed to have triumphed in Brexit negotiations with Boris Johnson, but has been decisively rejected by Irish voters.

Yet back home Varadkar was facing some of the same troubles that beset the former UK Prime Minister Theresa May. Ireland is no longer seen by the Irish as having benefited from an ‘economic miracle’. As in London, there is a housing crisis for young people, but again as in London most young voters have in response opted for the far left, choosing to ignore the parallel crises caused by mass immigration that has made Dublin unrecognisable in recent years.

Sinn Féin, which once played an ambiguous role, posing to European leftists as a socialist revolutionary movement, while presenting itself to the Irish diaspora in the USA as a traditional nationalist party sharing their social conservatism, has now reinvented itself inambiguously as a socially liberal party, ticking all the correct trendy boxes, though still unapologetic – indeed proud – of the IRA’s bloody record of murder and mayhem.

As with many such populist insurgencies, government might prove a trickier business than rhetorical opposition, and we have yet to see precisely how the new coalition will stack up a governing majority.

Meanwhile the rival populists of the conservative/eurosceptic right almost all failed: click here for details.

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