Éamon Phoenix
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Catholic Unionism
A case study: Sir Denis Stanislaus Henry (1864–1925)
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This chapter presents a case study of Denis Stanislaus Henry. Henry's remarks show that at the early stage in his career he subscribed to the broader, more inclusive Irish unionism of Sir Edward Carson rather than the narrower sectarian-based unionism of the north. The Irish News described Henry as 'one of that weird class of creatures known as an Irish Catholic Unionist' whose stance would be anathema to Catholics and whose religion would arouse the worst sectarian feeling among Protestants. Henry's name was largely forgotten until the late 1960s when, in response to civil rights claims of anti-Catholic discrimination, unionist propagandists trumpeted that the chief justice of Northern Ireland had been a Catholic. Yet attempts to broaden unionism beyond its traditional Protestant base had little success in the divided state after his death and it was not until 1998 that another Catholic unionist was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

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