Dr. Brian Walker
Dr Brian Walker, Emeritus Professor of Irish Studies at Queens University Belfast and author of the recently published A Political History of the Two Irelands: from Partition to Peace, delivered an analysis of the turbulent times of the early Free State to the History Research Seminar at Trinity College Dublin. He later spoke to Paul Loughlin.
Many attribute the dramatic decline in the Protestant population of what is now the Republic of Ireland to a mistrust of the new Free State by Protestants at the time. From the 1911 census through the 1919-1921 War of Independence through the 1922/23 Civil War to 1927, the Protestant (mainly Church of Ireland) population fell from a quarter of a million to 164,000, a drop of 34%. Why was this? Certainly, some dyed-in-the-wool Unionists wanted nothing to do with an Irish Free State.
Then there was the fact that the numbers of Protestants identified in the 1911 census included British Army personnel, who departed Ireland following the implementation of the Treaty in 1922.
However, more recent studies, and programmes broadcast by TG4 and TV3, have described terror campaigns against Protestants in the Free State, mainly by the IRA. Professor Brian Walker, who is Emeritus Professor of Irish Studies at Queen’s University Belfast and author of A Political History of the Two Irelands, claims that there was a sectarian tit-for-tat response from the IRA to the sectarian murders of Catholics in Belfast at the same time. The widespread breakdown of law and order when the Royal Irish Constabulary was disbanded also has to be taken into account. Professor Walker has studied the proceedings of Church of Ireland diocesan and general synods of the period. The synods involve both clergy and laity and are part of the system of government of churches in the Anglican Communion. These synod papers reflect what was happening to synod members throughout the Free State. Professor Walker delivered his account and analysis to the History Research Seminar at Trinity College Dublin and later spoke to Paul Loughlin.