James Craig

1871-1940; b. Belfast, 8 Jan.; seventh of nine children of a wealthy distiller and farm-owner; brought up at Craigavon, the family home, with visits to Tyrella at Dundrum Bay; ed. privately and Merchiston, Edinburgh; became stockbroker; served in S. Africa War; invalided home, June 1901; inheritance on death of f.; did not reopen his accountancy practice; selected as Unionist candidate for North Fermanagh, Mary 1903; m. 1905; elected MP East Down, 1906, increasing his majority in subsequent elections; organised Ulster Volunteers for armed resistance, culminating in demonstration of 50,000 who marched from Belfast centre to Craigavon on 23 Sept. 1911, to be addressed there by Edward Carson;
drew up detailed plan for provisional govt., submitted to Ulster Unionist Council, 31 Jan. 1913; appt. Quarter-mast.-gen. Ulster Regt., France, 1914-16; his br. Charles wounded and captured in Flanders, June 1917; parliamentary secretary; knighted 1918; succeeded Carson as leader of Unionists, Feb. 1921; elected Prime Minister, June 1921; created Viscount Craigavon of Stormont, 1927; abolished PR in Northern Ireland, 1929; told Northern Ireland Parliament at Stormont on 24 April, 1934, ‘We are a Protestant parliament and a Protestant state’; d. Glencarrig, 214 Nov., bur. Stormont; He was opposed to sectarian education (i.e., separate establishments for Catholics); the standard life is by St. John Ervine (1949). DIB

Famous words ...

Craigavon denied the assertion that the rights of Catholics in Northern Ireland had been increasingly restricted since 1921 in a parliamentary debate at Stormont on 24 April 1934, and ending by saying: ‘Since we took up office we have tried to be absolutely fair towards all the citizens of Northern Ireland. Actually, on an Orange platform, I, myself, laid down the principle, to which I still adhere, that I was Prime Minister not of one section of the community but of all, and that as far as I possibly could I was going to see that fair play was meted out to all classes and creeds without any favour whatever on my part.’ On George Leeke retorting, ‘What about your Protestant Parliament?’, he said: ‘The Hon. Member must remember that in the South they boasted of a Catholic State. They still boast of Southern Ireland being a Catholic State. All I boast of is that we are a Protestant Parliament and a Protestant State. It would be rather interesting for historians of the future to compare a Catholic State launched in the South with a Protestant State launched in the North and to see which gets on the better and prospers the more. It is most interesting for me at the moment to watch how they are progressing. I am doing my best always to top the bill and to be ahead of the South.’

— See ‘A Protestant Parliament for a Protestant People’ [entry], in Wikipedia - online. Note: The author also quotes the phrase ‘a Protestant Government for a Protestant people’ points out that numerous historians quote the version given in the title of the entry as authentic though Jonathan Bardon gives the correct version in his History of Ulster (2005), p. 538-39.

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1903 election
: Craig’s notes for his election programme are given in St. John Ervine, Craigavon: Ulsterman (London: Allen & Unwin 1949), p.113: ‘to settle the land question on equitable terms, to resist Home Rule, to secure better conditions of life for agricultural labourers, to knit the Empire more closely by means of preferential tariffs, and to maintain the Portestant religion in the place where it prevailed in Ireland.’ (Quoted in Calton Younger, A State Divided, 1972, p.162.)

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