Bernard Cullen, ‘Warning of nation state threat to Protestants’, in [?Belfast Telegraph] (28 Feb. 1980)

[Sub-heading: ‘Old dominant class forces would re-emerge’. Source: Cutting tipped into Michael Sheehy, Divided We Stand (London: Faber 1955) - copy purchased by BS in Coleraine c. 1990.]

Ulster Protestants could be pushed into establishing an independent state, a Queen’s university lecturer said last night.

Dr Bernard Cullen, an economics historian, warned the new state could be a “repressed and hierarchical” one in which the “old dominant class forces would re-emerge - a rather desperate beleaguered bastion rather than a marred democracy”.
 It was important that loyalist leaders, who talked about an independent Ulster, knew exactly what they were doing.
 He said Ulster Protestants wer enot in any intelligent sense a nation. They were a potent ideological community. The first criterion that Ulster Protestants want to become a nation state was lacking.
 “Nation states are not just the products of blind history, the produce themselves.”
 Dr Cullen said that Protestants could not be bullied or coerced into a united Ireland; nor chased out of Ireland.
 He was speaking to a seminar on Northern Ireland Loyalism as part of the Sense of Ireland festival in London.
 Observers had two basic pictures of the Ulster Protestant - the colonial view and the nation picture.
 The colonial view was the dominant one - a planted outpost of British imperialism embedded in the heart of a politically cohesive Irish nation.
 “Although the idea of a politically cohesive 17th century Irish nation state is a myth, this colonial picture of Northern Ireland loyalism is shared by all political elements in Ireland, from ultra left wing faction to Charles Haughey and the Fianna Fail front and back benches”, said Dr Cullen.
 He said the colonial ethic dominated thinking in Dublin and Washington.
 He said: “The island of Ireland had never been a nation, at least not during the last thousand years, and unless Northern Ireland Protestants are to be either obliterated or exiled from their homeland, it never wil be.”
 The two pictures of loyalism, the colonial and the nation were “seriously and dangerously deficient.”
 “First, it is demonstrablyy not true that Northern Ireland is a puppet of Britain created and maintained by Britain. it is one of the great ironies of modern history that Northern Ireland ended up with its own parliament and Government in 1920.”

At the heart of loyalism was a commitment to Protestantism: “a particularly assertive form of fundamentalist Protestantism, that has no time for some form of so-called Protestantism that can't make up their mind whether they are Roman Catholic or Protestant.”
 “Protestant politics are the shadow - but Protestantism is the substance. In times of crisis Northern Ireland loyalists are not so much loyal to the Crown as to the Bible.
 “Any critique of Northern Ireland loyalism that doesn't have a sympathetic ear cocked to the past which is the present in Northern Ireland is going to be deficient.
 If loyalists moved towards the creation of an open democractic society then it was likely the original democratic impulses of Presbyterians, and Methodists would make it a “most formidable society”.
 Those who wer not past of the Northern Protestant tradition had a role to play in ensuring that murder was not doen and to preach peace.
 Observers could demand that sectarian killings of loyalists cease; that Eire remove its constitutional claim to the Province; preach peace and take every opportunity to reach out to the Protestant people.
 “Above all, we have the right - and the obligation - to raise the issues of peace, work and class politics and to ensure that they are not pushed off the stage of Northern Ireland history, either by ridicule or by murder and intimidation, in the hope that these elements will be dominant in whatever society the Protestants of Northern Ireland choose to create.
 “The fundamental condition for this better world is democracy - the right of Northern Ireland Protestantism to go on bearing witness to its own special view of the world, with due regard enhrined in law, for the civil and political rights of others.”