Anti Protestantism was not always the motive in attacks

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

With reference to Robert Wallace’s letter (‘Sectarian attacks show there is no Irish place for us,’ February 19), I feel I have to write to correct his frankly hysterical claims about “sectarian” attacks.

There certainly have been sectarian attacks down the years in Ireland, and during the 1798 rebellion there were shameful incidents of sectarian murder at Scullabogue and Wexford Bridge on the rebel side, and the summary murder of unarmed prisoners and suspects at Dunlavin and Carnew by loyalist forces.

However, Vinegar Hill was not a sectarian engagement, unless Mr Wallace considers the assault by the British military and loyal yeomanry on the rag-tag remnants of the rebel army at Vinegar Hill to be spurred by sectarian malice.

Sectarian impulses led to atrocities on both sides during the 1798 rebellion, but to suggest that the rebel leaders were driven by their hatred of Protestants is to ignore the fact that many of the Wexford rebel leaders and combatants were themselves Protestant, including Bagenal Harvey, Matthew Keogh and half the rebel government of Wexford town.

There is enough bad history on the island of Ireland without simply making things up in order to keep old grudges going.

Don Kavanagh, Auckland, New Zealand