Public Talk and launch of booklet on the 1913 Alternative Ulster Covenant.
Video of the event at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAof_fzvaIY
The last week of September saw the Orange Order once again out marching and banging their drums. They were celebrating the centenary of Edward Carson’s 1912 ‘Ulster Solemn League and Covenant’, when some four hundred and seventy-one thousand protestants from Ulster vowed to resist Home Rule by “any means that may be found necessary”.
As the Solemn League and Covenant was being signed, thousands of men were already being enlisted into the unionist militias, which in 1913 were formally established as the Ulster Volunteer Force. The signing of the Ulster Solemn League and Covenant was to be the prelude to the eventual partition of Ireland and the creation of two confessional states in the country.
Carson’s Ulster Covenant is well known. Far less well known is the ‘Alternative Ulster Covenant’, signed in 1913 by some twelve thousand protestants in County Antrim. The Alternative Covenant was launched in Ballymoney in October 1913 by a Presbyterian minister, Reverend JB Armour, and signatures were collected by Jack White.
The signatories pledged their support for Home Rule and their resistance to the sectarian politics of Carson. They felt that as both protestants and as Ulstermen and women that they had an essential role to play as part of the historic Irish nation. They felt that the religious division of the country could only bring injustice and sectarianism.
The existence of the Alternative Ulster Covenant does call into question the myth of a Protestant Ulster, undivided in its loyalty to the crown and as one in its opposition to Irish national self-determination.
The men and women who signed the Alternative Covenant and who made a stand, often at great personal risk, against the tide of sectarianism and the demand for partition that was sweeping through the province, must not be forgotten.
A historical booklet, detailing the signing of the Alternative Ulster Covenant, was launched in the Dublin’s Belvedere Hotel last week. Joe Keegan chaired the event and introduced the two speakers: Bill O’Brien, who carried out the historical research behind the booklet, and Church of Ireland minister Rev David Frazer.
Bill O’Brien recounted the history of the Alternative Covenant and the role played by JB Armour and others in the protestant community who opposed the politics of sectarian and imperialistic politics of Edward Carson. David Frazer gave a fascinating talk on the issue of identity among Irish protestants. The talks given by both speakers were extremely well received by the audience. The story was covered in the Irish Times.
The booklet ‘The 1913 Alternative Ulster Covenant’ will be launched in Belfast and other parts of the country in the coming weeks. The booklet is presently available for sale in a number of bookshops or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A video of the launch can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAof_fzvaIY