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Ian Paisley and the Fethard-on-Sea Boycott

Tuesday, 26 February, 2008 1:55 AM
From: "Rory Connor"
To:  tadhgfanning

Tim Fanning,

Dear Mr. Fanning,

I believe that the solicitor "Desmond Toal" who told Sean Clooney that he would get his children back - IF he emigrated to Australia and agreed to let them be raised as Protestants - was the "Desmond Boal" who was a co-founder of the Democratic Unionist Part with Ian Paisley in 1971. Again this throws a rather different light on an episode that is supposed to depict the Catholic Church persecuting Protestants. The Workers Party seem to have a lot in common with the DUP in the area of religious intolerance.

In the course of the the 30 year terror campaign by the IRA, the Catholic Church and the Workers Party both opposed the IRA. One of the reasons the opposition failed was that the Workers Party were more concerned with slandering the Church than in forming a joint front against terrorism.

During the last years of the Weimar Republic the powerful (Stalinist) German Communist Party declined to join the Socialists in a common front against the Nazis and instead choose to denounce them as "Social Fascists". This lunatic attitude played a major role in Hitler's coming to power in 1933. (It is also why Stalin changed tack and ordered western Communists to form a 'Popular Front' with all anti-Nazis in 1934.) I believe the Workers Party played a similar role in Irish politics and, if it had not been for the British presence, this country would have gone the same way as Weimar.

Pat Rabbitte's slandering of Cardinal Daly and Harry Whelehan played a major role in the fall of Albert Reynolds government in 1994. Of course Pat Rabbitte did not oppose Reynolds because of his role in the peace process. The peace process was irrelevant in Rabbitte's lust for power and in his hatred of the Church. But then the German Communist Party was not deliberately trying to bring Hitler to power either!


Rory Connor
11 Lohunda Grove
Dublin 15
087 675 1169

Extract from 'Irish Examiner' 24 March 2007

If Paisley finally says ‘yes’, we in the South are in no position to gloat


Next month, it will be exactly 50 years since Paisley, then an obscure Northern clergyman, became involved in the Fethard-on-Sea controversy.

In April 1957, Sheila Cloney fled to the North because Fr William Stafford, the local Catholic curate in Fethard-on-Sea, Co Wexford, insisted her children attend a Catholic school whether she liked it or not. She was a Protestant from the locality who had married a Catholic and, in line with the Ne Temere decree, promised that their children would be raised as Catholics.

Since her Protestant father had helped her flee to the North, Fr Stafford sought to victimise the local Protestant business people through a perverted sense of justice. The clergy initiated a local boycott in the naive belief that this would compel Sheila Cloney to submit to clerical dictates.

The whole thing was blown from a local controversy into an international incident.

Desmond Boal, who later co-founded the Democratic Unionist Party with Ian Paisley, took up Sheila Cloney’s case. “The unhappy events in Fethard-on-Sea are a reminder to the loyalists of Ulster as to what could happen if Northern Ireland were submerged in an all-Ireland Republic”, declared Lord Brookeborough, the Northern Ireland prime minister.

Preaching to a congregation in Wexford that included John Cardinal D’Alton and six other bishops, Bishop Michael Browne of Galway endorsed the sectarian boycott. He described it as “a peaceful and moderate protest” in response to what “seems to be a concerted campaign to entice or kidnap Catholic children and deprive them of their faith”.

In the Dáil later that week, the Taoiseach, Eamon de Valera, courageously denounced the “boycott as ill-conceived, ill considered and futile”.

Brendan Corish, a local deputy and future leader of the Labour Party, asked: “Will the Taoiseach endeavour to ensure that certain people will not conspire in this part of the country to kidnap Catholic children?” Dev dismissed the vexatious question.

Seán Cloney eventually traced his wife to the Orkney Islands, and he went there and reconciled with her. She returned with the children, and they were educated at home. The 1999 movie, A Love Divided, was based on the controversy. ..............................

My Note: The 1999 film 'A Love Divided' contained scenes such as those of the burning of Tom Kelly's (Sheila Kelly Cloney's Protestant father) farm and of violence involving firearms that were fabrications and historical misrepresentation, according to Eileen Kehoe, one of the couple's daughters. One of the movie's writers, Gerry Gregg, was a former member of The Workers Party that was noted for its antagonism towards the Catholic Church (just like Ian Paisley in fact!).

Rory Connor
26 February 2008