Learning lesson of democratic history

RE: THE letter from D Baldwin, ‘A lesson on Democracy’.

The notion of democracy which D Baldwin ascribes to King William’s triumph at the Battle of the Boyne, ensured that the cruel persecution which the Catholics of England, Ireland, and Scotland, had endured from the reign of Elizabeth I would continue virtually unhindered throughout the centuries that followed.

Persecuting legislation made its effects felt in every department of human life. Catholics in England lost not only their freedom of worship, but civil rights as well.

Their estates and property, and often their lives were at the mercy of parliament and informers. I refer to Father Nicholas Postgate born at Egton Bridge North Yorkshire sentenced to death for being a Catholic Priest and was hung draw and quartered at York in 1679.

During the Penal laws, Catholics in Ireland, and Scotland fared even worst, their ancient Gaelic language, culture, and way of life were also proscribed.

The legislation devised for Irish Catholics during that evil period was described by historian Edmund Burke, as “a machine as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment, and degradation, of a people, and the debasement in them of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man.”

The democracy and civil rights, we enjoy today, which D Baldwin ascribes to King Billy’s success at the Boyne, is over imaginative! but rather, can be attributed more than anything else, to several centuries of political agitation by courageous individuals and groups throughout these Islands, often under the threat of imprisonment death or transportation.

One of many features of political agitation in Ireland, was to bring about the emancipation of Catholics on both sides of the Irish Sea, in 1829 by the unstinting leadership of Daniel O’Connell (The liberator) and his staunch supporters.

Sean Carney

Oakville Avenue