'Garret's crusade' is the affectionately dismissive term given by Dublin opinion - traditionally dismissive if seldom affectionate - to the Irish Premier's desire to abolish the 'sectarian' articles of the Constitution which enshrine Catholic social doctrine. But the reaction in Irish politics at large has been less worldly-wise, and the ensuing fuss has obscured some of the most important implications of the affair. The surprise occasioned should, in a sense, have been minimal. In the best academic tradition, Dr Fitzgerald was not only repeating Lecky ('the secularisation of politics is the chief means and condition of political progress'), but also repeating himself. Ten years ago, in a 'study group' organised by the Institute for the Study of Conflict, he fulminated against the Irish Republic's attempt to exert a moral sway over the North while implicitly excluding from its constitutional definition of 'Irish' 'the Northern Ulster Scots Protestant tradition'. The state, therefore, in Dr Fitzgerald's view, 'evolved in a lopsided manner that has notably failed to reflect the whole of the island's culture and history'. This is as patently true now as it was then, and his intellectual honesty, as well as his political impatience, would inevitably have forced him to say so from the platform as well as across the seminar table.
LRB 21 January 1982 | PDF Download