On this weekend (Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th September) in 1979, Pope John Paul II ,the spiritual head of the Catholic Church, became the first Pope to visit Ireland . Those half-hoping that such an influential person might use the occasion to highlight the many injustices inflicted by Westminster on the Irish were to be disappointed : instead , we got the opposite – a pro-establishment , pro-Westminster/Free State and anti-Republican rant , during which , in an address to the Irish nation ,the man said – “”On my knees I beg you to turn away from the paths of violence and return to the ways of peace.”
No mention of the British military and political presence on the island ; no reference to the (continuing) claim of British jurisdiction over six Irish counties ; not a word about “the paths of violence” which lead to Number 10 Downing Street: condemnation , only , for those attempting to resist the foreign occupation . What a wasted opportunity !
However , we salute those who wear a similar collar and are not afraid to ‘speak’ up – “Sometimes, I’m jealous of the Palestinians. They have one enemy, the Israelis…. The Israelis are stealing Palestinian land and the Palestinians are resisting it and so they fight…”
And so do we….