Open Doors launched its 2019 World Watch List on 16 January. Open Doors is a member of the Evangelical Alliance and supports persecuted Christians around the world. The list ranks the countries where Christians suffer persecution.
The DUP’s Arlene Foster and Nigel Dodds attended the launch, along with other members of Parliament, to show its support. But it’s hypocrisy in the extreme for the DUP to support this event. Because Catholic Christians have suffered greatly in Ireland and the DUP leadership bears some responsibility.
The organisation began after “a young Dutchman”, Brother Andrew, went on a journey to Warsaw in 1955. There he “discovered the existence of a persecuted church”.
Persecuted for their faith [and] they feared they had been forgotten by their fellow Christians around the world.
Persecution of Catholics
But Brother Andrew’s journey didn’t take him to Ireland. That journey would have revealed another “persecuted church”. A Catholic Church persecuted by British loyalism, the police and members of the Protestant faith. The same faith as Brother Andrew.
And the DUP shoulders some of the blame for this. Speaking about Catholics following attacks on their homes in 1968, former DUP leader Dr Ian Paisley said:
Catholic homes caught fire because they were loaded with petrol bombs; Catholic churches were attacked and burned because they were arsenals and priests handed out sub-machine guns to parishioners.
The following year he roared:
They breed like rabbits and multiply like vermin
Catholics protested against anti-Catholic “endemic discrimination” in October 1968. Groups like the People’s Democracy formed to end this and included members of all faiths and political backgrounds. Protests ended in violence as the police and loyalists attacked them. Yet members of the DUP described People’s Democracy protests as a “coat trailing exercise”, meaning they were deliberately provocative.
Loyalists in Ballymena attacked and harassed Catholics going to mass in Harryville church in 1996. Loyalist protests outside this church continued until the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. Then, in 2001, Protestant residents in north Belfast hurled missiles at Catholic girls on their way to primary school.
The persecution felt by Catholics was so great that two notable members of that Church spoke out. In 2005 former Irish president Mary McAleese said of Hitler’s dictatorship:
They gave to their children an irrational hatred of Jews in the same way that people in Northern Ireland transmitted to their children an irrational hatred of Catholics
Then later that year Father Alec Reid, who acted as a peace broker between the IRA and Irish and British governments, made a similar comparison. There was such controversy at these comparisons that both apologised.
Time to own up
Of course, all suffering warrants attention. But people often forget that Catholics suffered in Ireland. And there was little outcry from the rest of the Christian community when it happened.
The DUP needs to take some responsibility for Catholic persecution as some of it came from its community. Real progress in Ireland is unlikely without it.
– Find out more about the Pat Finucane Centre and its quest to get justice for the families of the victims of British state killing. It advocates a non-violent resolution of the conflict in Ireland.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?