THE Methodist Synod of Belfast has apologised for its denomination’s role in supporting the 1912 Ulster Covenant (News Letter, September 29).
In effect, the Synod members are apologising that the region known since 1921 as Northern Ireland has remained in the United Kingdom for the last century.
One hopes that the Methodists understand that they are therefore also apologising for Northern Ireland’s contribution to the war against Nazism; that they are apologising for the extension of the welfare state to Northern Ireland; that they are apologising for Northern Ireland’s participation in the NHS; that they are apologising for the provision for universal secondary education here after 1947.
In short, they are apologising for all the benefits and all the glories that this Province’s place in the United Kingdom has brought about. Perhaps on reflection they may wish to apologise for their apology.
It should also be observed that the Methodist Synod’s curious apology suggests that the document’s anonymous drafters are in want of historical instruction.
The Covenant did not necessarily imply the use of violence. As Lord Bew has observed, the phrase “all means which may be found necessary” was understood at the time by many to mean the withholding of taxes.
As I hope I demonstrated in my recent article for the News Letter, there was an absence of violent rhetoric on the part of speakers on unionist platforms in the period leading up to Ulster Day.
As events transpired, the UVF founded in 1913 was never responsible for violence.
The most violent organisation in Ulster during the period of the third Home Rule crisis was the militant suffragettes.
One wonders if the Methodist Synod of Belfast will ever get around to condemning them.