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ireland, irish, ulster, ireland, irish, ulster, Sinn Féin, Irish America

Robbo starts a Mass movement: Castle Catholics may turn to religious DUP next year

(John Coulter, Irish Daily Star)

Emperor Robbo has successfully rebranded the DUP as a Protestant party for a Catholic people.

Old Brookeborough must be spinning in his grave with rage at the fate of his famous Unionist battle cry: "A Protestant Parliament for a Protestant People."

That maxim has been usurped by a former East Belfast loyalist who once bathed in the political sunshine of his 'commando' raid on the border bastion of Clontibret and the red-bereted rallies of Ulster Resistance.

No one should underestimate the imagery of influential Catholic priest, Fr Tim Bartlett, the secretary of the Northern Bishops, speaking at the annual DUP shindig in the La Mon hotel, scene of one of the Provos' most notorious atrocities.

That would have been unthinkable a few decades ago. Thirty years ago, a DUP politician would have been severely disciplined for even daring to cross the border to the priest-ridden Republic.

Twenty years ago, the DUP's ruling fundamentalist wing championed public opposition to the Evangelical Prayer Breakfast Movement because Orangemen from the rival UUP dared to have an Ulster Fry with Catholic priests.

The anti-Catholicism Caleb Foundation, set up in 1998 by leading DUP activists to combat the Breakfast movement, has been tactically castrated and previous boasts that it represented 200,000 Protestants are now empty rhetoric.

Robbo's raid into the electorally lucrative Catholic middle class, sometimes dubbed the Castle Catholics, or Garden Centre Catholics, should not be dismissed as a last ditch bid to combat voter apathy among working class loyalists.

Rather, it should be viewed as one of Robbo's greatest tactical achievements alongside his St Andrews Agreement and surviving the Irisgate scandal.

Robbo has recognised that both the Stoops and the Shinners have shot themselves in the foot over issues such as abortion, gay marriage and gay adoption.

The SDLP and Sinn Féin in trying to win over the trendy Leftie pluralist nationalist vote have sacrificed their traditional Catholic Mass-going legions.

Just because the Irish Catholic Church has taken a pounding over clerical abuse scandals does not mean that many Catholics have totally abandoned their faith.

A huge silent majority still cling passionately to a personal Catholic faith, but seek a party which will remain true to basic Catholic doctrine.

Alliance has also disastrously stepped on theological landmines by backing gay marriage and abortion.

And the same millstones now hang around the necks of the supposedly liberal NI21 party of the so-called McUnionists of Bazza McCrea and Wee Johnny McCallister, both of whom have openly backed gay rights.

But Robbo has managed to muzzle the old-style Paisley fundamentalists who branded the Pope as the Biblical Anti-Christ. No longer need religious Catholics fear sermons about being damned to Hell in Robbo's religious version of the DUP.

The UDA has imploded, its leadership being deposed in hopefully bloodless coups, and the organisation reverting to its roots as localised defence associations.

Apathy is widespread among the Protestant working class, and its political base is heavily fragmented.

Only one element can derail Robbo's Protestant Party for a Catholic People concept – if UUP boss Mike Nesbitt swings his party to the Radical Right and becomes the champion of loyalist civil rights.

If Nesbitt ignores this party-saving move, in the 2014 elections, we could hear another of the great impossibles of Irish politics – Catholic priests using their pulpits to urge their flocks to vote DUP!

December 10, 2013
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This article appeared in the December 9, 2013 edition of the Irish Daily Star.

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