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Leo Varadkar Equates Being A Protestant With Being British In Ireland

Given the patently racist accusations made against him by right-wing British journalists and publications over the years, with allegations of an exaggerated sense of Irishness due to his ethnically mixed parentage, one would imagine that Leo Varadkar might be acutely sensitive to the false stereotyping of any minority person or community in this country. Unfortunately for the Fine Gael leader he has a habit of saying the quiet things out loud, as happened yesterday when he attacked Sinn Féin by claiming that the party had no elected representatives from a Protestant background in its ranks, casually equating membership of the Protestant faith or tradition in Ireland with being British. Which will come as a surprise to my Presbyterian relatives. From The Irish Times:

Mr Varadkar, in an interview on RTÉ Radio’s News at One, claimed that Sinn Féin was an obstacle to Irish Unity. He claimed the party’s relationship with unionism was one of mutual hostility.

“They are sectarian. They are anti-British. They have no Protestant TDs, MLAs, or Senators. I believe for a united Ireland to be achieved they need to talk about the unity of people just like Nelson Mandela when he spoke about South Africa being a rainbow nation.

“They need to accept that there are 1 million people in Ireland who identify as British… and their flag is orange not green.”

Though he has subsequently withdrawn his accusation against Sinn Féin, albeit in a typically surly manner, Varadkar’s implied belief that to identify as a Protestant in Ireland is to identify as British is itself base religious sectarianism. Perhaps we should not be surprised by this given Fine Gael’s political ancestry in a conservative counter-revolutionary faction that allied itself to the Roman Catholic Church in 1922-23 to overthrow a secular Irish Republic and replace it with a theocratic Irish Free State? The neoliberalist apple doesn’t fall too far from the Blueshirt tree. And an apple that is apparently unaware that the flag of millions of Irish Catholics, Protestants and Dissenters includes the colours green and orange.

12 comments on “Leo Varadkar Equates Being A Protestant With Being British In Ireland

  1. telescoper

    My late grandfather (who was born in Belfast) was a proud Protestant Republican.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What an idiot! And Irish Republicanism came to us from the Protestants, who supplied nearly every single leader and, in Antrim, most of the members.

    And is he aware that when Mandela was convicted and sentenced by a South African court, the leaders of all of the states of the western world considered him a terrorist? And for most of his prison life too.


    • Obviously his reading hasn’t extended to anything like “The Summer Soldiers” by ATQ Stewart.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice one, ASF. Spoken (written) like a true Irish Republican.
    Your last point reminded me of an old paternal uncle of mine, a Northern Protestant like myself. The uncle was a determinedly working-class socialist, largely self-educated, and extremely well-read. He despised unionism, particularly the “big-house” variety, which was all that was on offer, and hated the Orange Order. But he still reckoned that the North as part of the UK was a marginally better option than the alternative, which was to join with a theocracy in the South.


  4. Breandán Mac Séarraigh

    Thanks for this. A brilliant post.


  5. Oh dear this statement says much about the ignorance of all too many folks in Ireland and indeed over here in Scotland.

    Without doubt it is the case that many Protestants are unionist or unionist leaning. But that does not mean that all Protestants are British. They most certainly are not. In fact when we get into this Lind of nonsense there is a Church of Scotland minister who supports a team called Celtic. Maybe that means all Celtic supporters are Church of Scotland ministers. Varsdakar’s statement is that stupid.

    Mind you when it comes spelling, a local priest once told me the most common spelling mistakes he came across was the insertion of a “D “ into Protestants. I wonder how Varadaksr spells Catholic’s………….with a “ K “ and then “ afflicks”.

    Ah the mind boggles, it truly does! And they say that education sets free?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. All fishermen are liars. But not all liars are fishermen.


  7. notimportant

    This reminds me so much of the Progressives in the US.

    They basically said the exact same things about people who opposed gentrification or took issue with gentrifiers being basically handed the keys to every city they move to and getting everything they wanted no matter what.

    Black and brown and even Asian people were “racist” for not wanting them to take over their communities and steamroll the existing community out of existence like they do everywhere they gentrify. They were “closed-minded” for not wanting safe injection sites and rehab centers forced on their communities by people who felt that stuff “belonged” there. Anytime people push back against being even further disenfranchised by Progressives pretending to fight for them, they’re demonized and smeared as any bad thing Progressives and their friends in the media and politics can think of. With the same false calls for unity. Nobody has gotten this treatment worse than white city natives and other working class white people though. They know we’re the ones standing in the way of them being the only “allies” of people of color and poor people so they do everything they can to make us out to be racist white supremacists holding back “progress” even if we’re left leaning and actually fight for the things they pretend to fight for.

    Also, aren’t Africans in South Africa still living under pretty horrible conditions under a still pretty racist white power structure where most of the wealth and influence is still in the hands of the white minority? Maybe not the best comparison for Leo to make.


  8. At best this was a poor choice of words. It could reflect Vardkar’s place in Fine Gael (ironic seeing that he’s gay and has an Indian father really), certainly. However this could be observing a crappy dynamic that has taken hold in many places.

    It certainly does seem that Protestant Irish Republicans scarcer and/or less visible than they were some times in the past. Sadly there are a lot of places where the thinking on certain groups has gone from “Liberals progressives are a minority for this demographic” to “this demographic is inherently reactionary”. I suspect that there’s some element of self-fullfilling prophecy. Some people are willing to say that by shocking thin election margins these days.

    However, as for the pro-Treaty factions of The Irish Civil War: Wasn’t one of the major rationales a fear without accepting Partition, Dominion Status etc that they simply would end up with nothing but Full British Rule with limited male property owner-suffrage and no Irish govt of any kind whasoever? That shooting for a full Republic would simply up the political will to reconquer Ireland no matter what it took. That they might have even gone to length such as bringing more soldiers from other parts of the British Empire, or even hiring German mercenaries to help out the Black and Tans? (They’d already been known to tap soldiers from other parts of the Empire or hire Prussians to keep colonies from leaving!!)


  9. ” Varadkar’s implied belief that to identify as a Protestant in Ireland is to identify as British is itself base religious sectarianism. ” Fantastic point ASF. Just cuts to the heart of it.

    Liked by 1 person

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