Protestants Vital in Rising: Republicans Hijack Heroes

John Coulter with his  regular Irish Daily Star column from 1 December 2014

If Shinners really want to suck up to the pro-Union community after Gerry Adams’ disastrous ‘b’ word gaffe, then the party should encourage Unionists to commemorate Protestant nationalists associated with the Easter Rising.

Many events, such as St Paddy’s Day and the Somme battle, have been claimed by both sides in the sectarian conflict as ‘our wee commemoration’.

It has taken almost a century for republicans to recognise the thousands of nationalists who fought and died for the Crown in World War One.

But with the centenary of the doomed Dublin Rising in 2016, there is an urgent need for Unionists to honour the historic role of Protestant nationalists.

Unionists need to follow the example of Queen Bess when she laid a wreath at Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance which honours those who fought against Britain.

Republicans should not try to rewrite Irish history to give the impression that only fundamentalist Catholics and diehard socialists fought in the Rising.

The bitter medicine which republicans must swallow is that the Rising failed because of the inept military strategy of Catholic hardliners and fantasy communists.

If they had listened to leading Protestant nationalists – many of whom wanted the Rising postponed until after World War One ended – then the rebellion would have been a success.

Irish rebels should have waited another two years until the war ended and thousands of trained nationalists would have been returning from the trenches.

Essentially, the wrong people were in charge of the Rising. It should have been Co Antrim Anglican Captain Jack White, the founder of the Irish Citizen Army, and Lisburn Presbyterian Ernest Blythe, who was in jail at the time.

Blythe was an expert military strategist who eventually ran the fascist Blueshirt movement.

Another high profile Protestant nationalist, Bulmer Hobson, a founder of Fianna Eireann, strongly advised against a coup in 1916.

Other key members of the unofficial ‘Protestant Nationalist Militia’ were Roger Casement, who attended my old school Ballymena Academy; Sam Maguire who recruited Michael Collins and after whom the famous GAA trophy is named.

There is also the gun-runner Erskine Childers and Constance Markievicz, both from a Protestant heritage.

Had these Protestants been running a Rising in 1918, especially after Sinn Fein’s stunning victory in the Westminster General Election that year, a Christmas Coup would have worked.

Just as it has taken decades for Unionism to acknowledge the vital role which Irish Presbyterians played in the 1798 United Irishmen’s rebellion, Unionists must have the courage to commemorate those Protestant nationalists.

They are just as big a part of Protestant heritage as the Catholic troops who fought for King Billy at the Boyne in 1690.

Republicans have already hijacked many Protestants from history, such as Wolfe Tone, as ‘their own’.

Unionists must be wary that the Rising centenary does not become another republican Trojan horse.


  1. Wrong headed article in so many ways.
    The most obvious example is that Republicanism is blind to religious make up in it's truest form.
    One thing that bugs me about partition is that it cemeted a sectarian role in politics.
    John, you mention Wolf tone been Hijacked by Republicans as one of there own.
    You ride a horse and carraige through what Wolf Tone was trying to achieve.
    I.e the replacement of sectarian labels of Catholic, Protestant and dissenter with the term Irish man or woman.
    It sickens me that we aren't there yet.Both from a "nationalist " Point of view and also just from a common sense point of view.Who needs this religious label?
    A person's religion should be irrelevant to any area or discussion.
    It's nobodies business but themselves.
    Other errors are; Would those people of the Trenches of WW1 been so happy to participate in another war?
    I doubt it..It's always easier to recruit new troops from civilians who haven't "tasted" the horrors of war.
    The Irish Fenians tried this policy during the American Civil war of getting veterans of THAT campaign to return to Ireland to fight the Brits.
    Alas too many were killed and that war also lasted too long.
    See no reason why the idea of waiting out WW1 would also have been the wrong move.
    Lastly you refer to Sinn Fein Victory of 1918.
    Would that even have happened without the blood sacrifice of 1916? For which Sinn Fein were blamed for, but didn't actually participate in?
    Any protestants who fought in 1916 were Irish. Not protestant. Just like the Catholics.
    Playing sectarian politics with 1916 is not on..Even if the motive is benign.
    I couldn't give a hoot what religion they were. Remember them just the same.
    It's childish that Unionists would need "protestant" heroes.
    Let them grow up. That's not what it's about. I suspect that kind of thinking is past tense, especially for the younger generations.Who will hopefully fix this mess up.

  2. if there were no prods here, thered have been no need for a rising.

  3. Ozzy
    We've been down this road on a previous thread: Is Republicanism Catholic? In its pure form then no it's not, but in reality it is as infected by sectarianism as orangism. As Grouch says, no prods no problem.

  4. And the UVF would presumably have fallen into the ranks with the rest come 1918? The mind boggles.

  5. There are several factors that contributed to Sinn Féin's success in the 1918 General Election.

    De Valera's election as President of the party and of The Volunteers. Political and military republicanism united under a figurehead leader.

    Representation of the People Act of the same year increased the electorate, by giving the vote to all women over thirty and all men over twenty one, from 700,000 to over two million.

    The election pact which saw Labour withdraw from the contest.

    April 1918. British Government attempt to introduce conscription in Ireland. Opposed by all Irish parties and major bodies: Sinn Fein, Labour Party, Irish Parliamentary Party, Catholic Church & trade unions. Strike held to oppose conscription. 2 million signatures on anti-conscription pledge.
    Though the British Government abandoned conscription in Ireland previous to the poll the unity forging impact of that recent threat ought not be overlooked.

    As Larry's comment implies, partition none the less was always on the way.

  6. Of course they were vital, who the fuck else were we supposed to shoot at!?!?!!?!?