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Discrimination - Quotations

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Research: Martin Melaugh
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Quotations on the topic of Discrimination

Some quotes and extracts from speeches, reports, and books, on the subject of discrimination in Northern Ireland.


'A man in Fintona asked him how it was that he had over 50 percent Roman Catholics in his Ministry. He thought that was too funny. He had 109 of a staff, and so far as he knew there were four Roman Catholics. Three of these were civil servants, turned over to him whom he had to take when he began.'
Sir Edward Archdale, Unionist Party, Minister of Agriculture, Stormont, 1925
Reported in: Northern Whig, 2 April 1925


"Another allegation made against the Government and which was untrue, was that, of 31 porters at Stormont, 28 were Roman Catholics. I have investigated the matter, and I find that there are 30 Protestants, and only one Roman Catholic there temporarily."
J. M. Andrews, Unionist Party, Minister of Labour, Stormont, 1933
Quoted in: Harrison, Henry (1939), Ulster and the British Empire 1939: Help or Hindrance?, London: Robert Hale.


'There was a great number of Protestants and Orangemen who employed Roman Catholics. He felt he could speak freely on this subject as he had not a Roman Catholic about his own place (Cheers). He appreciated the great difficulty experienced by some of them in procuring suitable Protestant labour, but he would point out that the Roman Catholics were endeavouring to get in everywhere and were out with all their force and might to destroy the power and constitution of Ulster. ... He would appeal to loyalists, therefore, wherever possible to employ good Protestant lads and lassies.'
Sir Basil Brooke, Unionist Party, then junior government whip, 12 July 1933
later to become Lord Brookeborough and Northern Ireland Prime Minister
Reported in: Fermanagh Times, 13 July 1933;
Quoted in: Hepburn, A. C. (1980), The Conflict of Nationality in Modern Ireland, London: Edward Arnold (Documents of Modern History series). Page 164.


"When I made that declaration last ‘twelfth’ I did so after careful consideration. What I said was justified. I recommended people not to employ Roman Catholics, who were 99 per cent disloyal."
Sir Basil Brooke, Unionist Party, then Minister of Agriculture, 19 March 1934
later to become Lord Brookeborough and Northern Ireland Prime Minister
[Reported in: Belfast News Letter, 20 March 1934];
Quoted in: Commentary upon The White Paper (Cmd.558) entitled 'A Record of Constructive Change' (1971)


"The hon. Member for South Fermanagh (Mr. Healy) has raised the question of what is the Government's policy [in relation to the employment of Catholics]. My right hon. Friend (Sir Basil Brooke) spoke [on 12 July 1933 and 19 March 1934] as a Member of His Majesty's Government. He spoke entirely on his own when he made the speech to which the hon. Member refers, but there is not one of my colleagues who does not entirely agree with him, and I would not ask him to withdraw one word he said."
Sir James Craig, Unionist Party, then Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, 20 March 1934
Reported in: Parliamentary Debates, Northern Ireland House of Commons, Vol. XVI, Cols. 617-618.


"I suppose I am about as high up in the Orange Institution as anybody else. I am very proud indeed to be Grand Master of the loyal County of Down. I have filled that office many years, and I prize that far more than I do being Prime Minister. I have always said I am an Orangeman first and a politician and Member of this Parliament afterwards. ... The Hon. Member must remember that in the South they boasted of a Catholic State. They still boast of Sourthern Ireland being a Catholic State. All I boast is that we are a Protestant Parliament and Protestant State."
Sir James Craig, Unionist Party, then Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, 24 April 1934
Reported in: Parliamentary Debates, Northern Ireland House of Commons, Vol. XVI, Cols. 1091-95.
Quoted in: Bardon, Jonathan. (1992) A History of Ulster. Belfast: The Blackstaff Press. Pages 538-539.
[The remarks above about a "Protestant Parliament", and the similar ones below about a "Protestant Government", are often quoted as: 'A Protestant Parliament for a Protestant People', or 'A Protestant State for a Protestant People'.]


"The PRIME MINISTER [Sir James Craig]: The hon. Member says that all our appointments are carried out on a religious basis. I would like to go into this somewhat fully. The appointments made by the Government are made as far as we can possibly manage it of loyal men and women. Why not? And what objection can there possibly be to those who are upholding Ulster as part of the great British Empire and the United Kingdom, seeing that we have not got saturated through the place those who acquiesce in the policy of the hon. Members opposite, of endeavouring to break down the machinery of government given to us by the British people? Surely nothing could be clearer than that. If a man is a Roman Catholic, if he is fitted for the job, provided he is loyal to the core, he has as good a chance of appointment as anybody else; and if a Protestant is not loyal to the core he has no more chance than a similar Roman Catholic.
Mr. O'NEILL: How do you test their loyalty?
The PRIME MINISTER: There are ways of finding that out. The hon. Member knows just as well as I do there are ways of discovering whether a man is heart and soul in carrying out the intention of the Act of 1920, which was given to the Ulster people in order to save them from being swallowed up in a Dublin Parliament. Therefore, it is undoubtedly our duty and our privilege, and always will be, to see that those appointed by us possess the most unimpeachable loyalty to the King and Constitution. That is my whole object in carrying on a Protestant Government for a Protestant people. I repeat it in this House."
Sir James Craig, Unionist Party, then Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, 21 November 1934
Reported in: Parliamentary Debates, Northern Ireland House of Commons, Vol. XVII, Cols. 72-73.


'At a meeting in Derry to select candidates for the Corporation Mr. H. McLaughlin said that for the past forty-eight years since the foundation of his firm there had been only one Roman Catholic employed - and that was a case of mistaken identity.'
Mr. H. McLaughlin, Unionist Party, September 1946
Reported in: Derry People, 26 September 1946
Quoted in: Gallagher, Frank. (1957), The Indivisible Island: The History of the Partition of Ireland. London: Gollancz. Page 216.


"The Nationalist majority in the county, i.e., Fermanagh, notwithstanding a reduction of 336 in the year, stands at 3,684. We must ultimately reduce and liquidate that majority. This county, I think it can be safely said, is a Unionist county. The atmosphere is Unionist. The Boards and properties are nearly all controlled by Unionists. But there is still this millstone [the Nationalist majority] around our necks."
E.C. Ferguson, Unionist Party, then Stormont MP, April 1948
Later resigned from Parliament in October 1949 to become Crown Solicitor for County Fermanagh.
Reported in: Irish News, 13 April 1948


"When it is remembered that the first Minister [of Home Affairs], Sir Dawson Bates, held that post for 22 years and had such a prejudice against Catholics that he made it clear to his Permanent Secretary that he did not want his most juvenile clerk, or typist, if a Papist, assigned for duty to his Ministry, what could one expect when it came to filling posts in the Judiciary, Clerkships of the Crown and Peace and Crown Solicitors?"
Mr. G.C. Duggan, Comptroller and Auditor-General in Northern Ireland (1945-49)
Reported in: Irish Times, 4 May 1967


"Northern Ireland is the one part of the United Kingdom which has a written constitution - the Government of Ireland Act, 1920. This Act specifically prohibits the Northern Ireland Parliament from making any laws which endow one religion or discriminate against another. Any such Act could be challenged in the courts and ruled to be inoperative. A similar prohibition applies to executive acts.
In effect, the Government is not entitled to do what Parliament is not authorised to permit it to do. If there were such illegal actions by the Government, any person has the right and the opportunity to challenge them before the Courts."
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). (1968) Northern Ireland Fact and Falsehood: A frank look at the present and the past, (n.d.,1968?). Belfast: Ulster Unionist Party (UUP).


"It is frightfully hard to explain to Protestants that if you give Roman Catholics a good job and a good house. they will live like Protestants because they will see neighbours with cars and television sets; they will refuse to have eighteen children. But if a Roman Catholic is jobless, and lives in the most ghastly hovel, he will rear eighteen children on National Assistance. If you treat Roman Catholics with due consider and kindness, they will live like Protestants in spite of the authoritative nature of their Church ... "
Captain Terence O’Neill, Unionist Party, Northern Ireland Prime Minister, May 1969
Reported in: Belfast Telegraph, 10 May 1969


"We are satisfied that all these Unionist controlled councils have used and use their power to make appointments in a way which benefited Protestants. In the figures available for October 1968 only thirty per cent of Londonderry Corporations administrative, clerical and technical employees were Catholics. Out of the ten best-paid posts only one was held by a Catholic. In Dungannon Urban District none of the Council’s administrative, clerical and technical employees was a Catholic. In County Fermanagh no senior council posts (and relatively few others) were held by Catholics: this was rationalised by reference to ‘proven loyalty’ as a necessary test for local authority appointments. In that County, among about seventy-five drivers of school buses, at most seven were Catholics. This would appear to be a very clear case of sectarian and political discrimination. Armagh Urban District employed very few Catholics in its salaried posts, but did not appear to discriminate at lower levels. Omagh Urban District showed no clearcut pattern of discrimination, though we have seen what would appear to be undoubted evidence of employment discrimination by Tyrone County Council.
It is fair to note that Newry Urban District, which is controlled by non-Unionists, employed very few Protestants. But two wrongs do not make a right; Protestants who are in the minority in the Newry area, by contrast to the other areas we have specified, do not have a serious unemployment problem, and in Newry there are relatively few Protestants, whereas in the other towns Catholics make up a substantial part of the population. It is also right to note that in recent years both Londonderry and Newry have introduced a competitive examination system in local authority appointments."
Cameron Report, Paragraph 138, 1969
Northern Ireland. Parliament. (1969) Disturbances in Northern Ireland [Cameron Report], (Cmd. 532), (September 1969). Belfast: HMSO.


"In the first fifty years of the Northern Ireland state there is considerable evidence of just such a broad pattern of bias. This has been most closely examined in relation to local authorities, and there is overwhelming evidence that some local authorities practised discriminatory employment policy, and allocated the houses under their control in a sectarian fashion and for the electoral advantage of the dominant party. Practices also occurred at the Stormont level which demonstrate a deliberate bias against members of the minority community. There is a body of evidence that emergency powers were operated in a discriminatory fashion, and that both the administration of justice and the use of the police force were subjected to political pressures. Perhaps the clearest instances of all, however, are those relating to public employees and appointments to public bodies. Whether it applied to the employment of dustmen by Fermanagh County Council, to promotion in the civil service or to judicial appointments, there is a consistent and irrefutable pattern of deliberate discrimination against Catholics."
Darby, John. (1976), Conflict in Northern Ireland: The Development of a Polarised Community. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan.


"The unionist government must bear its share of responsibility. It put through the original gerrymander which underpinned so many of the subsequent malpractices, and then, despite repeated protests, did nothing to stop those malpractices continuing. The most serious charge against the Northern Ireland government is not that it was directly responsible for widespread discrimination, but that it allowed discrimination on such a scale over a substantial segment of Northern Ireland."
Whyte, John. (1983) 'How Much Discrimination was there Under the Unionist Regime, 1921-1968?', in, Gallagher, T., and J. O'Connell (eds.) Contemporary Irish Studies. Manchester: Manchester University Press.


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