‘Rebel Prods’


A chara, – In a review of Rebel Prods by Valerie Jones (Weekend Review, April 29th), Frank MacGabhann wrote: “The author makes the important point that Ernest Blythe, as the only northern Protestant in the Free State executive during the 1920s, was silent at the cabinet table while the Catholic cabinet members were incorporating into law the Catholic agenda on censorship, contraception, adoption and divorce. He could have expressed a Protestant attitude on [those] religiously divisive subjects.”

In England, the Lord Chamberlain consulted the (Anglican) Archbishop of Canterbury on censorship of theatre until 1949. On contraception, the Lambeth Conference of 1908 recorded “with alarm the growing practice of the artificial restriction of the family and earnestly calls upon all Christian people to discountenance the use of all artificial means of restriction.” A resolution at the 1930 Lambeth Conference read, “Where there is a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, complete abstinence is the primary and obvious method”, but if there was morally sound reasoning for avoiding abstinence “the Conference agrees that other methods may be used, provided that this is done in the light of Christian principles.” Divorce was legal in Ireland in the 1920s. In 1937, the Archbishop of Canterbury abstained from voting on the Matrimonial Causes Act that would extend the grounds for divorce beyond adultery because he believed that the church could no longer impose a Christian standard on a largely non-Christian population.

Insofar as there was any discussion of these matters at the cabinet table in the 1920s, perhaps Ernest Blythe felt quite at home with the Protestant attitude of his Catholic colleagues. – Is mise,



Dublin 16.