How to win friends and influence people, DUP style

DUP Rural Roadshow 2

First, let me pre-emptively warn readers that this blog is about to reproduce the full text of a press release from Stormont MLA and Al Murray lookalike Ian McCrea. Now, hark at thon:

DUP Mid Ulster MLA Ian McCrea has responded to speculation that the Pope of Rome may visit Northern Ireland next January.

Mr McCrea said:

“I am opposed to any possibility of a visit to Northern Ireland by the Pope of Rome and I believe a visit from the Pope should be vigorously opposed for a number of reasons, first of all the majority of people in Northern Ireland are Protestant and belong to denominations that hold to the belief that the Pope is the Antichrist and by his titles and claims he blasphemes Almighty God.

A visit from the Pope should also be opposed as many Roman Catholic people feel that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church have been complicit in abuse cases over many years and in light of the recent inquiry into child abuse in Roman Catholic institutions, such a visit would be very insensitive not only on the part of  the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State who arrogantly issued an invitation for a Papal visit to Northern Ireland, but also on the part of the Pope himself.

I have been made aware, that should there be a visit from the Pope to Northern Ireland it will face the vent of Protestant opposition and therefore I believe that it would be detrimental to community relations and, on those grounds alone, I would urge the Pope of Rome not to come to Northern Ireland.”

The final paragraph seems to be a veiled threat that, should Pope Benny set foot in God’s Wee Ulster, Ian and his compadres will wind up a bunch of excitable Free Presbyterians to cause mayhem. It would be a chance for fundamentalist agitprop on a grand scale, far better than the annual trip down Belfast city centre to heckle Gay Pride. I also like the reference to the majority of Protestants belonging to churches believing that Benny is literally the Antichrist. It’s true that the Irish Presbyterian Church still formally holds to the Westminster Confession, much to the embarrassment of its more respectable members, who however can’t move to get rid of it for fear of their own fundamentalists coming out of the woodwork. Ian seems to have a keen instinct for putting IPC backsliders under the spotlight.

Most people will either respond to this with “Who’s Ian McCrea?” or else “Oh, I know Ian McCrea. You’d expect him to say something daft.” It may further be pointed out that Ian is the son of Singing Willie, and the apple evidently doesn’t fall far from the tree. And yet, he remains a leading member of the DUP, the largest party in the north and the party that’s supposedly leading us into the bright future of the New Dispensation.

It’s a bit of a scud on Peter Robinson, at any rate. He’s been working so hard to make the Brits and Yanks think he’s a pragmatic technocrat rather than a sectarian yahoo. But his party keeps letting him down. Whether it’s Sammy Wilson sounding off about global warming, Mervyn Storey on creationism, or indeed Peter’s better half on gays being cured by Jesus-centred psychotherapy, he just can’t escape the flat earthers. In fact, there are good odds that somebody in the DUP will shortly come out and argue for the Flat Earth.

Hat tip: Chekov.


  1. October 2, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    probably someone should agree with his demand … on the condition, that in reverse, all protestant missionaries will immediately leave non-protestant territories

  2. FlyingRodent said,

    October 2, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Is there some extra calumny in being From Rome that requires the various angry Wee Free types to frequently refer to Benny as the Pope of Rome? Has there been some quiet schism when I wasn’t looking that means he needs to be distinguished from some AlternaPope who lives in Musselburgh?

    To my knowledge, there are a decent number of alternative Popes, but almost all of them are self-appointed and not a little bit mental.

  3. robert said,

    October 2, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    But surely it’s well known that the earth is flat and only godless atheists like Richard Dawkins and diabolic papists think different…

  4. jamie said,

    October 2, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    “Is there some extra calumny in being From Rome that requires the various angry Wee Free types to frequently refer to Benny as the Pope of Rome?”

    I was wondering that. Could there possibly be a pope of Ballymena or something?

    And if anyone can be pope I’m definitely up for Pope of Crumpsall.

  5. splinteredsunrise said,

    October 2, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    I thought Richard Seymour was the Pope of Ballymena. Although he seems to have been letting his command of Ulster Scots slip.

  6. ejh said,

    October 2, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    There’s a Gordon Pope at Montrose. Yellow-carded in the one-all draw with Elgin early in August and if Soccerbase is to be believed, not seen in the first team since.

  7. moofaeTAE said,

    October 2, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    You can get a pope card from the Church of Bob people. It reads “certified Pope”, but no mention of Rome, so it’s safe to carry in all corners of Ireland. I keep in my wallet for true emergencies.

  8. splinteredsunrise said,

    October 2, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Those Bob people are great. IIRC the Copts have two Popes in Alexandria, the Monophysite one and the Chalcedonian one. Leave it up to the Egyptians to outdo Rome.

  9. Exile said,

    October 2, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Sorry to leave this message here but I can’t find your e-mail address. You link to my blog The Exile on your blogroll, so please note that the URL has changed to:

    An update would be great.

  10. decent interval said,

    October 2, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    1/ while McCrea’s grounds for opposition to the Pope’s visit may seem quaint, it might be interesting to consider them alongside those put forward by Tanya Gold in this week’s Guardian, which actually seem somewhat more worthy of being subjected to railery and skit to me.
    2/thanks to Flying Rodent, I went to Wikipedia to discover there are quite a few anti-Popes, I had thought there was only one, that blind Spanish guy. And apparently there is a schismatic sect which considers Pope Paul VI the last legitimate Pope, which is a position that has a lot of appeal for me, although possibly for different reasons to theirs.

  11. splinteredsunrise said,

    October 2, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    Terry Sanderson, of course, has gone into full No Popery overdrive, although he seems strangely reluctant to take aim at the guys who are keenest for Benny to visit – the Labour Party. I wonder why?

  12. Liam said,

    October 3, 2009 at 11:20 am

    It’s great that the unspun voice of rural Ulster is able to get its seventeenth century message across using twenty first century technology. It’s good also that there is parity of esteem for everyone’s point of view in the modern Norn Iron.

  13. Liam said,

    October 3, 2009 at 11:26 am

    The headline for the release on the site is “‘NO POPE HERE!’ SAYS McCREA”. His emphasis.

    Dog whistle politics for the sonically limited culchies.

  14. Fellow Traveller said,

    October 3, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    I hope to see the Bishop of Rome welcoming the appearance of a substantial colourfully dressed Queer contingent on the Irish streets during his visit to the Province. Not sure it will happen after reading the relevant section of the Catholic catechism:

    2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

    2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

    2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

    Catechism of the Catholic Church

    So one must not discriminate unjustly but one cannot approve either. You can be a homosexual provided you don’t do anything homosexual. Presumably, one ought not, if unfortunately called to the struggle against one’s ‘objectively disordered’ condition, engage in any prideful activities regarding it such as marching in the streets drawing attention to oneself and friends.

  15. ejh said,

    October 3, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    while McCrea’s grounds for opposition to the Pope’s visit may seem quaint, it might be interesting to consider them alongside those put forward by Tanya Gold in this week’s Guardian, which actually seem somewhat more worthy of being subjected to railery and skit to me.

    Would you care to be more specific?

    Re: Terry Sanderson, it may be pertinent that he’s an official of an organisation which is generally against religion, rather than one that is generally against the Labour Party.

  16. October 4, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    It saims oany richt thit thy’on Pope fella shud invite Big Ian over til Rome fur a return visit.

    The two o’ them cud mait up an’ slag aff the gays.

  17. decent interval said,

    October 4, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    “Would you care to be more specific?”

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