Nationalism and the Ulster Covenant

21st November 2012

Belfast Conflict Resolution Consortium Invites You To:

Nationalism and the Ulster Covenant
A Talk by Dr Éamon Phoenix*

Time: Wednesday 28th November 2012 @ 14.30
Venue: The Linen Hall Library

The 1912 Ulster Covenant stands out as one of the most significant documents of modern Irish history. By threatening to invoke physical force ‘to defeat the present conspiracy to set up a Home rule Parliament in Ireland’, it struck at the concept of ‘the King in Parliament’- the very basis of British parliamentary democracy. For militant Irish separatists in the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the Covenant and its sequel - the UVF- provided an inspiration. As the historian Michael Laffan has noted, by adopting militant tactics during 1912-14 ‘Carson reignited the Fenian flame’.

By November 1913, the northern-born Gaelic Leaguer, Professor Eoin MacNeill had written his seminal article, ‘The North Began’, commending the example of the UVF to Irish Nationalists. This would lead directly to the formation of the Irish Volunteers. The scene was now set for the 1916 Rising. But, while the Covenant was signed by almost half a million Ulster Protestants, a group of Protestant Home Rulers produced a counter-Covenant. This pro-Home rule Covenant attracted some 3,000 signatures- a pale shadow of the mainstream document. In a final gesture in October 1913, the Protestant Home Rulers, including Sir Roger Casement and Captain Jack White- the Socialist son Field Marshal Sir George White - addressed a packed meeting of 500 Protestant Home Rulers in Ballymoney Town Hall. It was to be the last major ‘Protestant protest’ against militant Unionism and partition.

*Dr Éamon Phoenix is a political historian at Stranmillis University College. He is chair of the current ‘Remembering the Future’ lecture series and member of the Taoiseach’s Advisory Committee on the Decade of Anniversaries.

The talk will be followed by a Q&A and debate session. Tea/coffee and refreshments will be provided.

Places are limited so please contact Jessica Blomkvist no later than Wednesday 21st November, 12.00 noon, if you would like to attend: / 90202030.

This project is part-financed by the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund through the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. []

BCRC is supported by four partner organisations: Falls Community Council (lead agency), Epic, Charter NI and Intercomm.