CAIN: Issues: Politics: Ulster Vanguard. (1972) Ulster - A Nation

CAIN logo
CAIN Web Service

'Ulster - A Nation' by Ulster Vanguard (1972)



[CAIN_Home]
[Key_Events] Key_Issues] [Conflict_Background]

Text: Ulster Vanguard ... Page Compiled: Fionnuala McKenna

The following pamphlet was published by the Ulster Vanguard. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the members of the CAIN Project. If anyone knows who currently holds copyright for this pamphlet please contact the CAIN Project. The CAIN Project would welcome other material which meets our guidelines for contributions.


book cover

Ulster - A Nation
by Ulster Vanguard (1972)
Paperback 15pp Out of Print

Originally published by Ulster Vanguard, April 1972.

CAIN is attempting to establish contact with the copyright holder(s) of this booklet. If anyone knows who currently holds copyright for this booklet please contact the CAIN Project.



ULSTER - A NATION
____________

 

Consent of the Governed

Westminster’s justification for destroying the Stormont system of government was said to be the lack of minority consent to that system. Westminster has exchanged that system for one that lacks majority consent. It was imposed against the will of a democratically elected parliament and government of Northern Ireland. Moreover, the Temporary Provisions Act by which the change was effected was opposed by all the Ulster members at Westminster save one, the Republican Gerry Fitt. The criterion of consent, used to condemn Stormont, condemns with still greater force the system that has supplanted it. If consent of the governed is to be the moral justification of government, then lack of majority consent confers on the supplanting system less moral authority than the supplanted system had.

Ulster people may beg leave to doubt the sincerity of Westminster’s professed attachment to the principle of consent as its guide to political action. That principle is implicit in the decision to hold a plebicite on the border so that Ulster’s status in the United Kingdom will not be altered without Ulster’s consent. But in this case it is the majority and not the minority principle that is to be upheld. Clearly, Westminster’s operating principle is a principle of inconsistency that applies a majority principle in the one case and a minority principle in the other.

But another strange inconsistency emerges. In reaching a decision to overthrow Stormont Westminster omitted to consult the wishes of the Ulster people beforehand. Vanguard has subsequently demonstrated that the action Westminster was bent on taking would not have been supported in Ulster. The ease with which the principle of consent was cast aside in order to defy the majority is a measure of the strength of Westminster’s attachment to principle. Westminster resorted to the jack-boot, disguise it how they may. Jack-boot government deserves only one response from free men—resistance. It is bogus democracy when all the powers of the Governor of Northern Ireland, its parliament and government are concentrated in the hands of one man. No satrap had ever more powers than the Secretary of State, Mr. Whitelaw. Ulster is now in bondage under a special powers act more odious than any ever passed by Stormont.

One of the fundamentals of British liberty is that parliament should meet frequently. Respect for that principle was enshrined in the 1920 Constitution in a provision that parliament at Stormont should meet at least once a year. Under the new dispensation that parliament is prorogued for a year with provision for a further installment of prorogation. No wonder our outgoing P.M. warned Westminster that Ulster was no coconut colony, as Westminster seemed disposed to regard her. The conclusion is almost inescapable that Westminster wants to goad Ulster into reaction that will precipitate a show-down by heaping humiliations upon her that no self-respecting people would tolerate. Westminster appears to be looking for an excuse to abandon Ulster because she finds it more attractive to welsh on her obligations towards Ulster than to discharge them.

Constitutional Guarantees

These have been given in statutory form and in solemn promises by British statesmen. What are they worth? As far as the latter are concerned, they are not worth a button. Their successors will certainly repudiate them without a qualm when it suits. No Prime Minister can bind his successors anyway, and where the breach of a promise might otherwise look too blatant, it is easy for men as flexible as British statesmen to discover that the circumstances have changed since the promise was given. The current crop re-iterate their guarantees ad nauseam to Ulster, no doubt advised that Ulster has a fixation about these things. But the fixation is only an indication of the credibility rating that the current crop of men have in the eyes of Ulster people. It may surprise but it will certainly not hurt them to discover that Ulster people have their measure. They read in the British Press and Hansard what they think of each other's standards of promise-keeping and truth-telling. Why should we doubt their judgment in these matters? After all, they know each other better than we know them.

But what about the statutory guarantees? The sovereignty of the Westminster parliament entails that no parliament can bind its successor and that any parliament may amend or repeal any act it pleases and pass any new act it pleases as well. As Winston Churchill put it on one occasion, when the Attlee government was welshing on an all-party agreement reached at the Speaker’s Conference of 1944: "Every parliament is entirely free to behave like a gentleman, or like a cad. Every parliament is entirely free to behave honestly or like a crook. Such are the sovereign right of this august assembly."

It is well that Ulster people should be under no illusions about the foundations on which their constitutional guarantees rest. Ultimately, they rest on the changing mood of the people of Great Britain as reflected by their political representatives at Westminster.

In the end national self-interest, as interpreted by the politicians in power, determines what national honour requires in regard to any guarantee. If, like Chichester-Clark, Ulster people want copper-bottomed guarantees of their constitutional position or their internal security, they will get them in plenty. Unlike him, they need not be so naive as to depend on them absolutely.

Westminster’s Political Initiative

The initiative stands or falls, as Mr. Heath admits, on one thing—the weaning of the minority community from supporting the I.R.A. so that as a result the campaign of terror will be stopped in its tracks. Westminster’s penchant for appeasing those who have supported I.R.A. murderers has been demonstrated over the past few years, with results that the loyalist population knew would spell death and injury for many of them. Indeed Westminster policy has led, as the loyalist population knew it would, only to greater intransigence and a stepping-up of demands. The demand for the overthrow of Stormont has even been granted, despite the supposedly skilful boxing on the retreat by the Stormont government. When it had served its turn and had no more to give away, its usefulness as an instrument of Westminster ended and it was ruthlessly discarded. Peace at any price, so long as the loyalist population pays it. is the real end of Westminster’s policy. Despite all guarantees, Westminster would now prefer that Ulster should tamely integrate herself into a United Ireland. Harold Wilson has openly put a 15 year term on the operation: and Jim Callaghan has advised Ulster to move in the same direction, indicating that it would be an historical mistake for Great Britain to do anything in the short term to give Ulster any hope of keeping her place in the United Kingdom in the long term.

But what about the Conservative party. traditionally the friend of Ulster? Ulster’s P.M. was merely being polite when he publicly said that he had lost confidence in Mr. Heath’s administration. What he really meant was that he had been taken for a ride at the end of which he was declaring them dishonest, untrustworthy and treacherous. Clearly the Conservatives are on the same wavelength as the Labour and Liberal parties. The Economist of *15th January reflected the mood of Westminster, sensed and approved by the whole British Press, when it reported that "most ministers have made little secret of their belief that the most satisfactory solution would be for the Protestants in a United Ireland." Given that solution, British troops could be withdrawn from Ireland. Any popular clamour to "bring the boys home" could thus he avoided as an embarrassing election issue. The entire British Press is in varying degrees hostile to the loyalist cause in Ulster and it is not surprising that the people of Great Britain have been persuaded that Ulster is a social, economic, military and political liability.

It is against this general background that the prospects of success of the great political initiative in quelling the I.R.A. has to be judged. Against this background are the I.R.A. likely to be disposed to hold back? Surely all the elements in the situation encourage them to persist in a campaign which has brought them success against an unwilling opponent and flabby British government. Will a minority that supports the object, if not the methods of the I.R.A. be weaned away on such a scale that the I.R.A. will fold its tents and silently steal away? Only a foolish optimist would believe it. But the proof of the pudding will be in the eating and the initial signs are distinctly not propitious. Certainly on the assessment here presented the initiative was never justified—that is, supposing it could be taken at its face value. If the initiative is seen as preparing the way for eventual British withdrawal from Ireland to complete the earlier phase of 50 years ago, it fits into the whole pattern of British policy, otherwise too incomprehensible in its futility over the past few years in Ulster.

If the British government are planning a dignified exit from Ulster by a capitulation masquerading as statesmanship, they misunderstand the nature of Irish nationalism. To gratify nationalist sentiment and anti-British hatred it is necessary that the enemy—that is, the British—should be defeated in war and seen to be defeated by an Ireland triumphant. The British must be driven across the sea by force of arms. The I.R.A. want victory in no other way to satisfy the national hatred on which the nationally-minded Irish are nurtured in every aspect of their culture from the cradle to the grave. To quote a schoolmaster: "The Irish youth who quits school without realising his duties as a rebel is, or should be, a discredit to his schoolmaster as well as to his country."

The British profess to believe that the army is in Ulster to keep the peace between two communities, pretending that they have no quarrel with either. The truth is that the British presence and the British Army are the ultimate object of attack. It is a strange war in which one side refuses to recognise that it is a party to the struggle, clinging to the pretence of a limited peace-keeping role. It is a strange war in which the other side, the I.R.A., pursues the objective of an Irish government that conveniently disowns their methods only, while allowing them a free rein in its territory as is consistent with the pretence of both governments. It is a strange war in which the I.R.A. is a lawful organisation with full political rights in one part of the United Kingdom but not in the other and is allowed to canvass support and collect funds in one part in order to levy war on the other. It is a strange war in which the United Kingdom government accomplishes the overthrow of a democratically elected government and parliament as an inducement to the I.R.A. or its supporters to desist from successful violence. It is a strange war in which resisting Ulster is placated by repetition of constitutional guarantees that assure the I.R.A. that Westminster is ready to break up the United Kingdom if only Ulster would agree by plebiscite. (Mr. Heath avoids the word, referendum, for political reasons of his own.)

Westminster’s heroic defence of Ulster by shouldering the whole responsibility for internal security and dismantling Ulster’s capacity for resistance to friend or foe has inspired no confidence in their honesty of purpose or their resolve to do other than to betray the trust they undertook to discharge. Out of Ulster’s blood and tears they have unwittingly forged a nation that cannot entrust to them its security or national destiny. No doubt they have done their best according to their lights. But there comes a point at which sacrifice of Ulster lives, not to mention the lives of their own troops, for an exploded security policy makes them accessories to murder. That point has been passed. To have robbed Ulster of her own means of protection and then to have failed in the moral duty to supply it themselves in honour of their explicit undertaking was a crime against the Ulster people.

Any political initiative now that would facilitate any repetition of the present debacle must be unacceptable to Ulster. Having endured the taunts of the British press during our agony, are we now to be further protected by those who despise the loyalist cause and loyalist people? They have called us backwoodsmen, barbarians and they have meant it. They have done all in their power to break our morale and spirit and to encourage republican rebels. To advance our retarded political development they have fanned the flames of a rebellion that we must suppress or die in the attempt.

Lord Hailsham calls us to our duty of loyalty to the Queen’s ministers. Even in tribal Ireland the bond of loyalty was not a unilateral relationship. "Spend me but defend me" imposed on the tribal chief responsibilities arising out of that relationship. Ulster’s loyalty is primarily to her Queen, and not to ministers or governments that fail in their duty to give loyal subjects the blessing of the Queen’s Peace. It is no disloyalty to the Queen to refuse to accord to them a transferred loyalty they have not deserved. There are respectable British precedents for successful mutiny against ministers who have served the people as badly as the loyal Ulster people have been served by Her Majesty’s Government in recent years.

Three Choices

The situation created by the Westminster initiative demands some response from Ulster. What courses of action are open to the people? Three possible courses have been suggested, and no doubt others will also be put forward.

The one favoured by the overthrown Unionist government is to co-operate with Ulster’s overlord, the new Secretary of State, but to boycott the advisory Commission he is to appoint. The justification for this line is said to be that as loyal subjects, Unionists have a duty to co-operate with a Minister of the Crown that does not apply to the Commission. It is hard to see how co-operation with the Minister does not also imply co-operation with all the apparatus of government through which that Minister is by Act of the Queen in Parliament required to carry on the Queen’s government in Northern Ireland.

The unionist leadership, whose purpose is to win back Stormont, are prepared to be just a little naughty, but not too naughty to incur the serious wrath of their former Westminster bosses. This they call acting in a responsible manner so that after a year Westminster will be disposed to hand them back Stormont, unchanged.

This fond hope is quite unrealistic. Westminster did not embark on so drastic a change with any intention of restoring the status quo. Let us hope we are wrong and that Mr. Faulkner really can read the mind of Mr. Heath this time, despite his last display of his fallibility in this art. To do battle with Westminster Mr. Faulkner convinced the Standing Committee of the Ulster Unionist Council of the "far greater strength" he now has—the strength of veto. Unfortunately its strength has already been tested and it was not sufficient to stop the Westminster initiative. How much less likely can it reverse it? The fact would seem to be that Westminster has taken the measure of these determined men and their verbal veto without teeth. Mr. Faulkner’s thunderbolts must seem to them an exceedingly moderate reaction from one committed to uphold and defend what he did not uphold and defend when in power—namely the constitution and Parliament of Northern Ireland.

Direct Rule and Full Integration

This school of thought is realistic in recognising that the old Stormont has gone and they are opposed to any watered down version fathered by the political initiative. Ulster’s place, they feel, will be more secure as an integral part of the United Kingdom without a subordinate legislature. The present Northern Ireland departments of government would then be merged within the Whitehall system.

So far they suggest no programme of action to secure their objective. Any form of pressure they are prepared to apply must necessarily be as ineffective as that to be employed by the Ulster Unionists. A resort to any form of street politics would scarcely win the hearts and minds of those with whom they seek to integrate. Yet if they rely solely on gentle persuasion, they are unlikely to convert a Westminster already opposed strongly to the idea. Both Labour and Liberal parties are opposed to it, for they are looking to a United Ireland as the solution of the Irish problem. It is hardly necessary to elaborate this point since the party spokesmen of both parties have already made their position crystal clear.

As for the Conservative party, it is not likely they would depart from their policy of maintaining an all-party consensus on Ulster. No party at Westminster would willingly go it alone on Ireland. Memories of past political shipwrecks on this subject drive all British statesmen towards consensus as a form of political insurance policy.

In addition, and apart from the inclinations of transient political figures, the Home Office and Foreign Office ‘establishments’ are well known to favour an all-Ireland as the ultimate solution of Britain’s Irish problems. All responsible organs of British opinion agree that direct rule is a course of last resort. Hence it would be hopeless for Ulster to try to foist on Great Britain a solution for which there is so little enthusiasm at all levels of influential opinion. The status of unwanted guest is not a dignified one and an unwilling host is always ready to speed such a guest on his way. Such lodgings are no permanent abiding place for Ulster. Integration with direct Westminster rule as a possible course breaks down on feasibility alone in the face of adverse opinion in Great Britain, apart from the wisdom of such a course on its own merits.

Union with Great Britain was never an end in itself for Unionists. It was always a means to preserving Ulster’s British tradition and the identity of her loyalist people. The historic proof of this conception of the Union as a means to a deeper end was demonstrated when a British government put it to the test. The loyalists of 1912 were prepared to defy and did defy the Westminster government and parliament and set up a provisional government of their own when that seemed the best way to promote their end.

Full integration under a system of direct Westminster rule must therefore still pass the same test as to its efficacy for serving the same end to-day. It is notorious fact that attitudes towards Ulster in Great Britain have undergone a change since the last war. The mood varies from one of indifference to outright hostility. These attitudes may be based on ignorance or misinformation, but their existence as a fact must be faced. What sort of enduring marriage is possible between parties, one of whom is so lukewarm as the British now are. Where there is so little community of spirit such a marriage were best not contracted. The future offers no hopeful signs that the parties could draw together in wedlock. The direction and pace of social development differ greatly in Great Britain and in Ulster. Both in terms of ‘permissiveness’ and in attitudes to religion, urbanised society in Great Britain is far out of step with Ulster.

And here perhaps lies the heart of the matter. Two different communities in Great Britain and Ulster at different stages of development by virtue of different historical experience possess different scales of reference by which to measure, weigh and judge. The cardinal error is for the one to judge events in the other by its own different value-system. British parochialism in this respect has produced disaster for Ulster—and indeed for the United Kingdom in a way—over the last few years. British weakness for transplanting their own value-categories explains what Ulster people mean when they say the British are incapable of understanding Ulster problems. In this sense the British are the Ulster problem. To add insult to injury, their misunderstanding leads to arrogant attitudes in the British Press which outrage Ulster opinion. A larger measure of humility on all sides would be beneficial.

Recent experience suggests that a Westminster administration of Ulster affairs would be representative of the social mores of the larger island and insensitive towards the rather old fashioned Ulster, which progressives rather despise. In a Westminster parliament Ulster would be swamped and her voice carry little weight. In all these circumstances Direct Rule would be likely to set up more strains within the new relationship than it could endure. In any case British society is already showing signs of instability itself as it is overtaken by the crisis of social and moral values that has come upon advanced western societies. Legislative and administrative integration with Great Britain will expose Ulster to disintegrating stresses more directly than need otherwise be the case.

The deaf impersonality of distant administrative and bureaucratic control from London would lack the quality that only Ulster’s home-made system could provide. The difference was apparent between the Stormont and Whitehall departments with which Ulster people have had to deal. There is an intimacy of contact in dealing with the one that is absent from the other, not because the officials are different but because the machines they serve are different.

In a system of fully integrated direct rule the vital interests of Ulster would inevitably take second place. Ulster would always be an expendable commodity should the need arise to sacrifice a mere province in what Westminster politicians conceived to be the national interest. Since all political parties in Great Britain believe that it is in the interest of these islands to solve the Irish question at Ulster’s expense and since they profess to be converted to the justice of Eire’s claims on Ulster, it would surely be folly to entrust Ulster and her destiny into their hands completely. No copper-bottomed guarantees from them could off-set the risks Ulster would inevitably run from the very realities inherent in the situation itself.

A re-integration with Great Britain on the terms suggested would be an historic blunder, as Jim Callaghan said, but not in the way he meant. It would be a throw-back to the Act of Union of 1800 stated to be "for ever." It did not lead to national unity. It concentrated the pressure for disintegration at the weakest point—the Westminster politicians, who after a century of "reforms" capitulated. In doing so they would have sold Ulster had they been accorded that form of loyalty Lord Hailsham seems to expect of Ulster loyalists today. The Apprentice Boys’ of the Siege accorded to another Crown representative then the loyalty he deserved. Even today, whether the enemy is within or without our walls, Ulster’s response must still be No Surrender. Not only shall we not surrender to oblige London Lundies, we shall follow the brave precedent that the Apprentice Boys have given us and take our defence into our own hands and out of theirs.

Vanguard’s Choice

The loyalist cause in Ulster is the preservation of a British tradition and heritage within which and only within which can the loyalist community live, breathe and have its being. What is at stake today, as always throughout generations of continuous challenge, is the maintenance of that distinct way of life and culture upon which the very existence of a whole people depend.

The greatest threat to the loyalist cause is not the assault of Irish nationalism in the form of I.R.A. physical violence. Had the Ulster people been mobilised by proper leadership they would have defeated it. Nor is the threat to the loyalist cause as open as the Liberal party’s home rule policy for Ireland, pursued from Gladstone to Asquith. That threat was faced by Ulster loyalists supported by Conservative allies in Great Britain. Even so, to ward it off the loyalist people of Ulster took steps to prepare for a U.D.T. The threat today is more deadly because more insidious. The leftward shift in Westminster polities has produced a Conservative party, tired, even bored with Irish politics from which they wish to extricate themselves. Hence they have been converted to a belief in a United Ireland as the best long term solution of the old Irish problem. I.R.A. violence has assisted the conversion to a policy of desertion of loyalist Ulster.

To give a colour of justification, Stormont has had to be shown up in the propagandist image as an oppressive regime against which the long-suffering minority had to resort to street politics. By concessions to rebels at the expense of Stormont the loyalist position is weakened and discredited. By these means Ulster is to be brought gradually, peaceably, but inevitably into a United Ireland. The overthrow of Stormont is the first overt but unmistakable move. It is an offer to the I.R.A. to end violence in return for more favours to come. Only differences in timing and method divide the various factions in Ireland and Great Britain whose purpose is to achieve Ulster’s incorporation in an Irish Republic, Gaelic, Catholic, and anti-British. To progressives in Great Britain kith-and-kin arguments are now irrelevant and old forms of loyalty are outmoded. A community that has invented rubber bullets and the anti-blood-sports league is yet capable of contemplating the death by slow suffocation of a whole loyalist community in Ulster, such as overtook their brethren in Eire in the space of half a century.

On Vanguard’s reading of the signs the whole set of relationships between London, Dublin and Belfast has changed, and changed utterly. There is now complete identity of view between the Westminster and Eire governments on their policy towards Ulster. A Belfast government opposed to that policy has been put out of the way. Its successor, Mr. Whitelaw, representing Westminster’s views, sits in its place against the wish of the Ulster people. In Vanguard’s eyes he is a gauleiter backed by nothing but brute force legalised.

In this situation the loyalist cause must be taken into the hands of the loyalist people themselves. Direct rule by Westminster means the pursuit of Westminster policy, which leads directly to Dublin and the abandonment of the loyalist cause. Direct rule by Westminster does not satisfy the conditions for preserving a Union they no longer value. Yet disenchantment with Union gives Westminster no right to settle the destination of Ulster. If they wish to divorce Ulster in the long run, that confers on them no right to choose Ulster’s future partner.

By Westminster’s unilateral action the constitution of the United Kingdom has been changed and it has to be re-negotiated. In any re-arrangement the minimum condition for safeguarding the loyalist cause is plain. The power to damage it, in what Westminster conceives to be British interest, must be removed from Westminster’s hands. This entails that Ulster must have control over her own internal security and be able to deploy whatever forces she considers necessary to meet any challenge coming from any source in Ireland. It also entails that Ulster must have her own Parliament with such enlarged powers as are consistent with these minimum conditions for her security.

But how can this objective be achieved against Westminster opposition? In the first place loyalists must take steps to demonstrate that Westminster’s present regime has no popular support in Ulster. If the non-consenting majority rally behind Vanguard, ways will be devised to bring Westminster to a realisation that its present position is untenable. Loyalist unity now, as always, is the necessary condition for success. If Ulster cannot match Westminster in material strength, yet she can match Westminster in determination and in moral strength. Vanguard’s purpose is to mobilise all those moral forces of our breed, which have been hardened over generations of struggle. A nation whose troops do not know for what they are fighting in Ulster are no moral match for an Ulster that does know that it is fighting for its survival.

Vanguard intends that in any negotiation Westminster shall listen to the true loyalist voice that it has not yet heard. The existence of Vanguard with the massive support it has evoked in a few short weeks is proof that the loyalist community is disillusioned with voices that have purported to speak on its behalf and with men not fired with the loyalist faith that inspires their cause. Vanguard can be no other than a resistance movement in present circumstances—resistance to an undemocratic and un-British regime that can be shown to be unworkable against the opposition of an outraged majority.

Vanguard’s objective is to re-negotiate Ulster’s relationship with Westminster, Vanguard has no wish to take Ulster out of the United Kingdom and it is within a United Kingdom that Vanguard will strive for an accommodation that is consistent with the safety and the dignity of an old and historic community, claiming two elementary rights—the right to survive and the right to be free. Vanguard refuses to believe that in the last resort Westminster, rather than grant such an accommodation, will be prepared to abandon the concept of a United Kingdom on this issue. The advantages to both parts are mutual, although it is more fashionable to stress only those enjoyed by Ulster. The disadvantages to both from a breaking of the Union are also mutual.

With such an accommodation as Vanguard seeks within the United Kingdom no vital Westminster interest is at stake. Indeed for Ulster to shoulder her own internal defence might be a welcome relief to an army hard pressed to fulfil her international commitments as it is. But for Ulster a vital interest is at stake. Whatever the disadvantages for Ulster outside the Union, Westminster must consider the disadvantages that would or could ensue for her. These she would have to balance against the disadvantages for her in a re-negotiated Union. Vanguard believes that the disadvantages outside the Union for Westminster far outweigh any disadvantages to her within it. The simple reality is that if Westminster by her own act divests the relationship with Ulster of all ties of sentiment, the product of a long history, and reduces it to a balance of material interests, then Ulster will, willy-nilly. be forced to do likewise.

There are faint hearts who have been led to believe that without Westminster hand-outs Ulster would be non-viable. This belief has not been reached on any considered study, for none has been undertaken. It is one thing to say that cash hand-outs would cease, but it is a very different thing to assert that a whole people is not capable of earning its living. It is one thing to say that a standard of living would fall; it is quite another to say there would be no standard of living at all. From a belief in complete non-viability it is apparently thought that Ulster has no choice but to do as Westminster tells her. Vanguard rejects such defeatism. The encouragement that Vanguard has had from Ulster people throughout the world shows a different spirit. And Vanguard has also had encouragement from persons of high academic standing that Ulster is not non-viable. By comparison with Eire Ulster is quite capable of economic survival. The question remains whether by isolating Ulster Great Britain herself would be economically stronger or weaker.

On a larger view of the British Isles as a whole Vanguard believes that the three parts, Great Britain, Eire and Ulster have a common interest in co-operating to promote the prosperity of each as well as of all. But such co-operation can only be fully forthcoming if each respects the position and vital interest of the other. Westminster’s recent treatment of Ulster is inconsistent with Ulster’s interest or dignity and Vanguard will lead the Ulster people to have it reversed and to change the rules so that it will not happen again. Eire’s claim to Ulster’s territory and people is also incompatible with Ulster’s interest and dignity. Westminster’s failure to refute Eire’s claim and to secure its withdrawal has been a source of disharmony in Ireland between North and South. But not only cross-border disharmony; it has also operated to perpetuate disharmony within Ulster, where the minority community has naturally been encouraged to withhold full recognition and full co-operation from the lawful government. Considering this handicap under which the Stormont government has laboured its achievement was quite remarkable. That experiment in devolved government was until 1968 regarded by every observer as successful and was the envy of other regions in Great Britain and even farther afield. It was only because a malevolent attack on Ulster was not suppressed but was allowed to prosper that by virtue of propagandist slanders it was suddenly discovered that the Stormont system was inherently bad and that it had to be put down. In any new arrangement the Ulster people will see to it that that weakness in suppressing an inspired insurrection shall not be repeated.

Given Vanguard’s conditions for safeguarding Ulster, Vanguard considers that the whole British Isles could stand at the threshold of a new beginning in neighbourly co-operation. A Federal constitution for the British Isles? Certainly Ulster stands to gain, as do all regions of the British Isles, from a new form of competition within them—a competition in co-operation. Vanguard has no closed mind as to the institutional framework within which such a consummation, so greatly to be desired, can be accomplished. This is Vanguard’s constructive alternative to the course on which Westminster has apparently set herself.

Vanguard’s message to the Ulster people is to rally behind what is no mere negative, obstructionist or inward-looking movement. A self-respecting Ulster has much to give to the people of Ulster, but also to Great Britain, the British Isles and the world. Let Ulster, the smallest region, take her place in the Vanguard and proclaim her wider vision. Let Ulster, the land of Ireland’s foremost heroes, speak to the whole of Ireland again with the authority of a Cuchulainn, fortissimus heros Scottorum, and like Finn MacCool of old build a new Causeway to join all the people of these islands in a new community of spirit and endeavour.

 


CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within the University of Ulster.


go to the top of this page go to the top of this page
ARK logo
Last modified :