Founding father of Unionism, who made no outstanding contribution to British politics
On this Day February 9 1854 Edward Carson, lawyer and Unionist leader, was born in Dublin.He was raised and educated in Dublin, graduating in law from
Trinity College, and died in Kent, England.
As a barrister ( QC 1889) his main claim to fame was defending the Marquess of Queensberry against Oscar Wilde.
Wilde, who had known Carson at Trinity, remarked
“No doubt he will pursue his case with all the added bitterness of an old friend.”
Wilde was bankrupted, prosecuted for gross indecency in a second trial, found guilty and sentenced to 2 years’ hard labour, after which he moved to France, where he died penniless. Let’s consider Wilde’s legacy
and Carson’s. He was the first signatory of the Ulster Solemn League and Covenant against Home Rule in 1912.
Historians have taken a different view of his actions. One denounced
Carson and his associates as “traitors” and recalled that under their leadership “rebellion was openly preached, men were drilled and arms were landed, the assistance of the Kaiser was invoked, the forces of the Crown were defied and their commanders were seduced from their allegiance”
In June 1920 Carson made an inflammatory speech at Finaghy, telling the assembled Orangemen: ‘We in Ulster will tolerate no Sinn Féin’.
Comment: That was prescient, wasn’t it? No man can stop the march of a nation – even if most DUP MLAs won’t so much as pass the time of day with their Sinn Fein counterparts in Stormont
Within two weeks loyalist gangs expelled 10,000 Catholics and several hundred Protestant socialists from the shipyards, engineering firms and mills in Belfast and neighbouring towns. Over the next two years 23,000 people, mainly Catholics, were driven from their homes in the city. The Irish government estimated that 50,000 persons left the North permanently in response to the violence and intimidation of these years.
English Heritage denied Edward Carson the founding father of unionism a commemorative blue plaque, saying “his career in British politics was not sufficiently outstanding to justify commemoration”.
Comment: Hardly surprising since he fomented rebellion against government policy. Though Oscar got one!
Yet Carson was held in sufficient reverence in his day to merit a British state funeral
Despite the commentary in the newsreel his ultimate political goal ended in failure.
He desired an unpartitioned Ireland to remain within the UK.
A Northern Ireland statelet was a poor second prize.
He chose not to live in the Northern Ireland after it was set up but
his statue still looms over Stormont
People toppled statues of Lenin
They blew up Nelson’s Pillar in Dublin and sang songs about it
Isn’t it time for sun to set on this monument to failure?