Jude Collins

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Rev David Latimer: Christian or weirdo?

It must be irritating for those who like to present the differences here as between Protestants and Catholics when they run up against the fact that the history of Irish republicanism is studded with Protestants. Sam Maguire (he of the famous Sam Maguire Cup) was a Protestant who recruited Michael Collins into the Irish Republican Brotherhood, just as Bulmer Hobson (another Protestant) swore Padraig Pearse into the same organisation.  Constance Markievicz, Roger Casement, Ernest Blythe - all Protestants. Douglas Hyde, Ireland's first president, was another.  And that fellow Yeats as well, not to mention the founder of Irish republicanism, Wolfe Tone.

Which brings us to this weekend and the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis:  the party have  invited Derry Presbyterian minister the Reverend David Latimer to address them. Now politicians never do anything - well, not in public anyway - without a reason. The message Sinn Féin are sending out with the David Latimer thing is that they want to bridge the gulf between republicanism and the Protestant community today. This for some is an appalling vista and so there have  been efforts to show Latimer as something of an odd-ball, a maverick. Gregory Campbell was on Radio Ulster/Raidio Uladh this morning reminding listeners that Latimer spoke with dissidents, opposed a public parade of RIR men returning from Afghanistan and his attendance at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis fitted into this dubious pattern.

It all may seem a small matter - Protestant clergyman makes speech to republicans, big deal - but actually it does matter, both for republicans and for the clergyman involved. Sinn Féin have made it a party priority to break down divisions between themselves and Protestants.  In fact for some in Sinn Féin, Ireland won't be worth uniting until Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter are united in the north. It's important for the clergyman because...well, do I need to tell you? Read your Bible. One of the things the Pharisees accused Jesus of was consorting with sinners. I'm not sure if Rev David Latimer thinks  Shinners are sinners, but he knows as a Christian that even they were, that's no reason for him to avoid contact or conversation with them.

Hats off to David Latimer this morning,  then,  for having the courage of his Christian convictions.


  1. david latimer is a courageous forward thinking man,and as a republican i commend him for leading the way,being honest and up front.If we had more like him in the city of Derry,with the courage and conviction to settle our differences and look ahead,the world would look a more positive place to all,those involved in the industry that has become 'reconciliation work' should take a lead and get out there,saying it as it is and tell those 'ney sayers' to catch themselves on,then again why would they,from the safety of their well oiled industry,get their hands dirty by standing alongside david latimer,who is doing publicly,what they strive to do secretly in smoke filled rooms,with people who are only interested in their next grant or trunch of funding.

  2. Gregory Campbell can't forgive republicans, yet he can walk behind UVF bands during the Apprentice Boys parade in Derry. He seems to forget, that when we are united, he will defend N.Ireland with arms. A Protestant rebellion if you like. Hypocrite! His statements and opinions, drive the wedge further between Protestant and Catholic residents, not only in Derry, but across the North.

    I would say that he should get a bullet, but I won't, as I'd end up in court!

  3. Dear Anonymous,

    What you wrote in your last sentence is the kernel of many problems that refuse to be solved.
    What you do when you write or say these things is lower yourself to his level of narrow minded thinking.

  4. @ Anonymous.. your post about Gregory Campbell is inaccurate. The Apprentice Boys association do not have UVF bands or bands showing support for any other illegal paramilitary organisations at their parades in Londonderry. Show me a photo of Gregory parading behind a UVF band? There isn't one.

    The last person that threatened him got what he deserved, this is justice, Gregory has the right to an opinion like everyone else, some wont like what he says, thousands do when they elect him as MP for East Londonderry. Gregory has the support of the unionist people.

  5. The new lundy: http://img153.imageshack.us/img153/3958/lundy2.jpg

  6. Anonymous here

    I was in Derry City centre during this years ABOD parade. In that parade, there were UVF flags and UVF regalia among the bands men. The problem there is, and I put this to Willie Hay this year, is that the UVF who they commemorate, is the UVF of old. Willie Hay told me that himself. But you see, the ABOD claim that the UVF fought at the Somme, when in actual fact they did not. UVF members joined the regiments who went to fight, but not as the UVF.

    This 'Old UVF' are the same UVF that killed dozens of Catholics in Derry in the 1920s. So your wee statement seems to be quite untrue.

    I don't need photos to highlight the hypocrisy of Gregory Campbell, nor do I need to apologise for any previous post. Read it again, and you will see that it is carefully worded, and will not result in my being put in front of a judge!

  7. Gregory Campbell would be DELIGHTED to think that this thread had suddenly become about HIM rather than the Reverend Latimer's initiative. The Nay Sayer blocking the Progressive.....Fair play to the Reverend for showing leadership!

  8. Great article. I salute your historical veracity and compassion.

  9. Latimer -Happy clappy weirdo Gregory Has been poisoned by his experience of the Marty led IRA in Derry who put the bomb under Gregory`s car-- Car contained Gregs months old baby at the time- Tends to set one views in concrete that sort of action

  10. It was the INLA who put the bomb under Gregory's car in 1984 not the Provisional IRA.

  11. What would Jesus do?