When God and politics collide

When God and politics collide Counting begins at the UK general election count in the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast (Image: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye)

As I crossed the Boyne Peace Bridge, en route to the pro-life rally in Dublin the other day, an old tale sprang to mind: King Billy, fresh from the battle, was crossing the river, when the boatman asked: “Who won?” And King Billy retorted: “Why do you care? You will still be a boatman”. These days, I’m almost afraid to ask who won.

There’s been a battle royale in France, with a surprise victory for the left, and predictable drama in Britain where voters took their bloodless revenge on the Conservative Party. In the north of Ireland, the biggest surprise was the toppling of Ian Paisley Jr by a former unionist ally and the near defeat of another DUP stalwart in East Derry by Sinn Fein.

I lost count of the number of times the word ‘change’ was spoken, ruefully by unionists, and enthusiastically by Labour ministers – full of promises after a  loveless landslide.

Let’s face it: the promise of change is not always welcome. Change can be very stressful. Even positive change –  such as going on holiday – stresses us out.


It’s one of the infuriating things about the Lord – He is always doing something new. But at least you can trust the Lord with your life. Can you say the same about our political masters?

The new British Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer, is personally committed to a change in the law, allowing euthanasia. So brace yourself for a policy of assisted dying in the National Health Service (how will we tell some might say?). Even Rishi Sunak, his conservative predecessor, said he was not opposed to the idea of a new euthanasia law.

There was a time when pensioner’s prime fear from government shifts was a demise in their pensions.

I do hope the great reset in Anglo-Irish relations is not a mutual embrace of death. Here in Ireland, the Joint Committee on Assisted Dying has recently recommended the Irish government legislate on assisted dying.

Of course, assisted dying would be limited to those who have between six and 12 months to live – but how long will the limits last? Abortion was supposed to be “rare” but a change in the law has opened the floodgates.

Mainstream politicians from across the political spectrum on both sides of the border – and the Irish sea – are embracing all kinds of strange doctrines”

Bishop Kevin Doran, in his homily at the Right to Life Mass in St Saviour’s Priory, made a connection between abortion and euthanasia, as some of the arguments are similar.

Perhaps the most pressing question after an election should not be “Who won?” but rather: “Why are politicians so keen to kill off the electorate?

No bugle was sounded in this battle, and many of us are sleepwalking through this cultural war which is an assault on long-held values.

Mainstream politicians from across the political spectrum on both sides of the border – and the Irish sea – are embracing all kinds of strange doctrines, not just regarding abortion and euthanasia, but the notion that a child can be born in the wrong body, that dissent is hate speech, that drag queen story hour for children is just panto and the list goes on.


A voter’s world view and values can no longer be neatly tied to a party label, conservative or liberal, Fianna Fail or Fine Gael, left or right.

This was illustrated in a headline which appeared in The Catholic Herald on the eve of the July 4 Westminster poll. “You know British politics is out of kilter when George Galloway appears a feasible Catholic option.”

Galloway – a political maverick (to put it mildly) – transitioned from Old Labour to the Workers Party of Britain. He  now describes himself as “socialist and socially conservative”. Galloway endorsed Catholic social teaching and declared his love for Jesus “with all my heart”.

Galloway – who just lost a seat to Labour that he had only just taken in a by-election in February – has long been a controversialist. Perhaps embracing Jesus is what now passes for dissension in British politics, where a Labour spin-doctor once told former prime minister Tony Blair: “We don’t do God”.

They certainly don’t, based on their attitudes to life and death.

 ‘It’s the union, it’s the union, it’s the union,’ a Paisley stalwart declared at the DUP’s election launch. I’m afraid it’s much more serious than that”

North of the border, we are distracted by sham fights over which flag is over the door, when the real battle is a cultural one. The issue now surely is what kind of society do we want to live in? “It’s the union, it’s the union, it’s the union,” a Paisley stalwart declared at the DUP’s election launch. I’m afraid it’s much more serious than that.


What is the point of safeguarding the union if citizens are not free from dangerous laws? Indeed what is the point of a united Ireland, a nation once again, if it does not cherish life? There’s a renewed call for a pan-unionist front – but surely safety lies in building bridges with those who share core values on life and liberty.

None of the Sinn Fein or SDLP MPs elected from the Catholic tradition in the north are pro-life. Of those who will take their seats, 64% are pro-life and all are unionists.

As the Battle of the Boyne is marked this Twelfth of July, there are indeed far more pressing questions than who won the battle.