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.