Nick Ross …Catholic Schools

On 7th Ocober 1968, I took part in my first Civil Rights march. A group of us bunked off school to march from Queens University to Belfast City Hall.We were stopped at Ormeau Avenue and we all sat down on the road.

I have often been told that Nick Ross led that march. Frankly I cant remember him. But he was an English student at QUB who later made his name presenting BBC Crimewatch. And he has become increasingly…conservative. A few weeks ago he outraged many people with what seemed to be a far too nuanced statement on Rape.

A few days ago he spoke of Catholic schools being “substantially responsible” for the Troubles in Norn Iron. This is the kind of nonsense that even the most bigoted of Norn Irons unionist community tend to avoid. As in most places…”faith schools” and indeed “non-faith schools” teach social and community responsibility which is USUSALLY to the benefit of all. Like most people, I am the person I am today because of the (mostly) influence of parents and education (Catholic).

It is also a simple fact that I learned the values of Republicanism and Nationalism at ” Catholic” school. And of course this is the main reason that nationalist parties will not push for integrated education. Unionists will not push for it either because of course so called SState schools promote defacto Protestant and Unionist values. And liberal unionists promote integrated education as an aspiration that Norn Iron will become a homogenous society.

Yet Nick Ross compares Catholic schools in Norn Iron with Muslim faith schools in Britain. And the implication is that these faith schools are in some way responsible for Islamist extremism.

In England it is ok to be anti-Catholic. Thats how the comedians on Mock The Week are hand-picked but it is not ok to be Islamophobic. Nick Ross completely missed the point. The parallels between Catholics and Muslims in English Society are not contemporary. They are HISTORIC….specifically in the period 1558 to well into the seventeenth century.

The focal point being the Gunpowder Plot…Guy Fawkes and all that.

Consider these parallels. England is a Secular Country. People would like Sharia-Islamist Law. These people include young English men who go abroad to fight in wars in Afghanistan and Syria. Or go to study in a madras in Pakistan. Back in England, they become involved in terror plots closely monitored by a security force which has infiltrated it.

Yet Modern Enland…whether conservative or liberal, whether Daily Telegraph reading or Guardian reading….is a product of the Whig Settlement that ended religious wars. The assertion of English Law over Roman Law….and in the sixteenth century they had people like Edmund Campion educated in a seminary on the continent and people like Guido Fawkes radicalised in Dutch Wars.

The suspicion that Catholicism was alien to the English character is at the heart of Modern England, including its supposed modernity which embraces Diversity. Occasionally the mask slips.

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48 Responses to Nick Ross …Catholic Schools

  1. hoboroad says:

    Its amazing what a bunch of old reactionaries some of those in NICRA and the PD’s have become. Not all of them of course just some of them. Nick Ross and Paul Bew as well as that right wing blowhard Bruce Anderson.

    • Its very hard to explain.
      Bew was on the Burntollet march and Im guessing that the Brute was.
      But I dont think that Nick Ross was.
      Im maybe five or six years younger than these people.
      But in politics, there is a kinda zeal that the convert (from one position to another seems to have).
      For me its almost the opposite. I was certainly always to the left.
      And I think…I am probably as much or more to the left than I was when I was a teenager or young adult. In part that is because I dont want to be seen as a person who has compromised …I resist what people would call pragmatism because its the first step.
      Interestingly I am a much more liberated person than I was as a teen or young adult.
      I would certainly have been classed as a “social conservative” rather buttoned up but certainly not judgemental.
      I am now much more liberal in terms of social or so called moral issues.
      And in part that is because I realise I am an old geezer who cant legislate for young people.
      So I am lived my life back to front.
      I was the worlds oldest 21 year old…and became the worlds youngest 61 year old.

      I am growing old disgracefully.

  2. hoboroad says:

    I think the only source for Nick Ross being a big wheel in NICRA is Nick Ross! Nick Ross is married to Sarah Caplin whose cousin is Esther Ranzen. Yet more evidence of rampant nepotism at the BBC.

    • Other people seem to recall Ross.
      I often wonder which students at QUB were/are in the pay of The Man, they all oppose.
      Its always the most friendly. 🙂
      The BBC…thats the place where the Spooks had an office and the Chief Spook put Christmas tree stickers on the files of the good people.
      Wonder if Nick Ross has a Christmas tree sticker on his.

    • factual says:

      The thing that I didn’t like you didn’t mention: Nick Ross said he would “probably” watch child porn and that there were graduations of seriousness when it comes to rape – some rapes are worse than others.

      • Indeed….the child porn thing was an awful comment.
        But it was so outrageous that nobody would find it acceptable.
        Ross gave the impression that he has some kinda special entitlement to watch this kinda thing. He over-rates himself.
        The acts depicted in Child Porn are necessarily criminal acts.
        The acts depicted in Adult Porn are not.
        Thats the key difference.
        We really need a better phrase than “child porn”.

  3. hoboroad says:

    He joined the BBC shortly after leaving University. A high flyer in the Organisation as both a producer and presenter always at the BBC. His wife also a BBC producer was a director of her cousin Esther Ranzen’s Childline charity. His wife moved to ITV to work on the This Morning programme where she didn’t see eye to eye with one of the shows stars Judy Finnigan.

  4. factual says:

    My mum – although she has hardly been to the six counties/NI – has just put forward the interesting hypothesis that the reason these folks who took part in NI civil rights activity seem to range just so widely in political views today is a sign that there was actually quite a broad consensus that NI civil rights was a just cause – it could unite people ranging from socialist to republican to liberal to centre-right to nationalist to non-nationalist. So if you were young and idealistic it could appeal to people with quite different political outlooks.

    • Your mum is partly right.
      The key injustice was the existence of Norn Iron and a lot of the people who attached themselves to civil rights such as Labours XXXXXXX XXXXXX scurried away when that became clear.
      They were wannabees. But didnt have the cojones.
      They talked a good game when Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela were mentioned. But the non-nationalists in civil rights were a damp squib.

  5. hoboroad says:

    It came, in the form of a devilish intellectual challenge. “Let’s take your hypothesis a bit further. We have captured a terrorist, but he is a hardened character. We cannot be certain that he will crack in time. We have also captured his wife and children”. After much agonising, I have come to the conclusion that there is only one answer to Sydney’s question. Torture the wife and children.

    I think it’s some stretch going from supporting Civil Rights to supporting torture like Bruce Anderson has done in the quote above.

    • Yes, thats true but we dont see as much of the Brute on TV as we used to see him.
      I saw him once in a bookmakers shop off Victoria Street in London.
      A Beaten Docket in more ways than one.

  6. hoboroad says:

    The key injustice was the existence of Norn Iron and a lot of the people who attached themselves to civil rights such as Labours XXXXXXX XXXXXX scurried away when that became clear.

    Would that be Irish Labour or British Labour?

  7. Political Tourist says:

    You learn something knew every day.
    Nick Ross in the civil rights movement, well well well.
    In saying that, the NICRM was a pretty broad church.
    From trots to liberals and maybe even a few tame unionist party members.
    So much for an IRA plot.
    Wondered what became of Peoples Democracy, knew they had a couple of Belfast councillors well into the 1980s.
    Think one of them ended up joining the provos.

  8. sammymcnally says:

    I think it fair to say that segregated schooling has contributed to the ‘problems’ of Northern Ireland – the question of how much and to what extent the ‘Catholic Church’ is to blame is a matter of debate – but it seems rreasonable and sensible to make the following statement – segregated schooling is on balance a bad thing for Northern ireland(and probably most other places).

    This is an arguement that Nats(Catholics) have been caught on the wrong side of – in a way Unionists (Prods) have been caught on the wrong side of Gay marriage debate – in both cases ‘progress’ rubbed the respective communities inate conservativism up the wrong way.

    With SF in charge of education they should make it a priority to include ‘balance’ in the state syllabus – which removes the only remianing figleaf there is for ‘Catholic’ education in the North. Or am I missing some other factor?

    I care not a jot about Nick Ross who may be after some publicity for a book – but as a former Catholic and one who respects the work of many good Catholic clergy I’m afraid the Catholic Church as an organisation has totally disgraced iteslf in its handling of child abuse in Ireland (and elsewhere) – if it was an accountable organisation it would be closed down and those in hierarchy who turned a blind eye or accomodated child abuse thrown in prison.

    The church should consider itself lucky it is allowed anywhere near influence over children’s lives.

    • What is bad for Norn Iron…in this case segregated schooling….is good for nationalism.

      • Shhhh…..don’t tell ’em but so is the marching season.

        Funny enough, the nearest thng to Islamist schools would be in the fundy areas, with their sexism, homophobia, young earther, litterlal beliefs and anti intellectual standpoint.

      • sammymcnally says:

        That is true up to a point.

        hence the statement above

        “This is an arguement that Nats(Catholics) have been caught on the wrong side of – in a way Unionists (Prods) have been caught on the wrong side of Gay marriage debate – in both cases ‘progress’ rubbed the respective communities inate conservativism up the wrong way. ”

        But in the long term Unionism looks sensible on this major issue and that means it is dangerous for Nationlaism to stay on the wrong side of the arguement. SF/SDLP should work on changing the syllabus(which I presume they can achieve) and get on the correct side. With secular(ish) unionism in the shape of the new party and a potentially within part of the DUP (like the Lord Mayor looking resonable) and a big % of people in Norn Ulster not sure or worried how to swing constitutionally – time surely to move on.

      • deiseach says:

        Aye, the segregation of schools has been very bad for Northern Ireland, and what is bad for Northern Ireland is bad for everyone. Where have I seen talk like this before? Ah yes, I’ve found it:

        “It is frightfully hard to explain to Protestants that if you give Roman Catholics a good job and a good house. they will live like Protestants because they will see neighbours with cars and television sets; they will refuse to have eighteen children. But if a Roman Catholic is jobless, and lives in the most ghastly hovel, he will rear eighteen children on National Assistance. If you treat Roman Catholics with due consider and kindness, they will live like Protestants in spite of the authoritative nature of their Church . . .”

    • Ronan Burns says:


      Be a courteous gentleman and leave it to Catholics to decide who should control the education of THEIR children. If you do not like Catholic schools, do not send your child to a Catholic school. That is your right. Your challenging the right of Catholics to send their children to schools controlled by THEIR church is an act of sectarian aggression against Catholics.

  9. hoboroad says:

    I think segregrated housing has caused far more damage than seperate schooling. After all even if you do get little Billy and little Seamus going to the same school together they are both going to return to separate housing estates. Also the Shoukri brother who told John Reid he would shoot dead five Catholics for every Protestant killed was a former pupil of Lagan College. I think it is lazy thinking that the Schools here are to blame for all our social ills. Most of the teachers I know are not sectarian bigots who seek to poison young minds with sectarian bile.

    • sammymcnally says:

      re. “I think it is lazy thinking that the Schools here are to blame for all our social ills”

      I would agree with that – but just becuase you have another problem that is bigger does not mean that you should not recognise the problem of segreagted eucation as well – that would also be an example of lazy thinking.

  10. hoboroad says:

    The SDLP MLA’s at Stormont have turned down a £5,000 pay increase. They are the only party to do so. All the other parties excepted it bringing their MLA’s salaries up to £48,000 a year.

    The SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan has told the Nolan Show: “Actions speak louder than words and we have all refused to take it.

    “In this undoubted time of austerity where you have people in work facing pay freezes, pay cuts and pay-offs and then people out of work, and with disabilities, facing cuts to their benefits, it’s completely unjustifiable, in my opinion, for elected representatives to take a pay rise.”

    Mr Durkan said the independent panel that recommended the pay increase was “not only unaware of the public mood but also completely oblivious to the public need”.

  11. The Belgians and Swiss effectively operate “segregated” eduction systems but I don’t see many decrying schooling in either of those two nations! Communal-based education is common across Europe. What Unionists and their media-apologists call “integrated eduction” is simply code for turning rebellious Irish schoolchildren into loyal British schoolchildren.

    Republicans need to get real about this and start confronting this nonsense head on. Unionists want “integrated education” because they wish to sanitise and “de-Irishize” children from the Nationalist community. Nationalists want “parallel education” because they don’t want that to happen. It’s that simple.

    If it was ever put to Unionists that SF and the SDLP wish to create a “shared” education system, a hybrid of the Irish and British national curricula, Unionists would scream the rooftops down in outrage and take to the education barricades to “protect their Britishness”.

    To be frank about it “integrated education” is propagandistic bullshit of the highest order.

    • Seamas gets it dead right.
      In any school 2plus 2 equals 4.
      Its not about religion…its about politics.
      And letsgetalongerists are not targetting CATHOLIC EDUCATION. They arebtargetting NATIONALIST EDUCATION?

    • factual says:

      Belgian example not a good one – a very divided society.

      • Actually its a briliant example.
        When you describe Belgium as a “very divided society” and it certainly is….then you have to acknowledge that Norn Iron is even more divided….Belgians have not been kiling 4,000 people in 30 years.

      • factual says:

        Belgium is more divided culturally at least IMO. It could have become violent, just as NI might not have.

      • deiseach says:

        Belgium probably would have become violent if the territory was part of a bigger country. So if it were part of France and the Walloons at best lorded it over the Flemish and at worst downright discriminated against them, then I can see how 20th century Belgium might have ended up being a sectarian bloodbath. Not that I’m thinking of anywhere in particular…

      • Belgium is an artificial entity created as a buffer zone. that didnt work out well.
        Now it is merely the place where EU is ruled from.

    • factual says:

      I have found Waloons and Flemish to have more antagonistic (unpleasant in some cases) attitudes to one another than protestants and catholics north of the border. And there is little cultural overlap, massive language differences, etc. Very different from NI where people live cheek by jowl.

      • factual says:

        It is a very poor example to hold up.

        As for the Swiss another poor example. A country that only gave women in some cantons the vote in the 1990s. Backwardness of excessive remote cantonisation. Really puts a person off federalism in small countries.

  12. sammymcnally says:

    re. “And letsgetalongerists are not targetting ” EDUCATION. They are targetting NATIONALIST EDUCATION?

    In terms of the principle – this is a straw man arguement . SF/SDLP can reform the syllabus and / or make it a redline issue and publically accept the principle of one education system. If Unionists wont play ball with that – then Nats can say they want one education system but it is being held up by Unionist intransigence – I suspect SF/SDLP dont want a row with the Catholic Church on this issue.

    …and the Catholic Church has shown itself to not be a suitable organisation to educate Irish children and allowing Unionism a clear run on this issue is political stupidity – certainly in the long run.

    • Well they educated Gerry Adams …and me.
      Of course Gerry and I were priveleged ..we went to a Grammar School and not Artane Industrial School.
      But I dont think we should confuse the morality of teaching orders…with the quality of the education itself.

      That the Catholic Education system created problems for unionism….John Hume for example….is not something about which we should be ashamed.

      • sammymcnally says:

        re. “That the Catholic Education system created problems for unionism….John Hume for example….is not something about which we should be ashamed.”

        Nat policy should be about the future not the past. SF are in charge of education NOW we dont need nor should we apsire to having to seperate systems.

        Nats should establish the principle of wanting ONE system and work towards it – there is feck all chance of UI for the forseeable – but its still Nat policy..

    • Ronan Burns says:


      You are being naughty, oh so naughty. Please be a good man and a courteous man. Leave it to Catholics to decide what organisation is suitable to educate THEIR children. Of course, YOU can decide what organisation is suitable to educate YOUR children.

  13. hoboroad says:

    NILT survey:

    Irish not British. 24%
    More Irish than British 14%
    Equally Irish and British 17%
    More British than Irish 16%
    British not Irish. 23%
    Other description (please specify) 6%
    Don’t know 1%

    Hat Tip to BangorDub.

    • Oooops…its not supposed to be like this LOL

    • kalista63 says:

      How many threads did the last survey generate on Slugger and articles in the Tele and UUP News?

      • To some extent…I do that too.
        All bloggers do it.
        Its zero sum.
        Theres good news for nationalists and I will happily blog about it all night. The imploding of the unionist outreach, flegs, etc are all things I am comfortable with.
        Likewise the discomfort of LetsGetAlongerist types with flegs, NI21, Mid Ulster is all great stuff to blog about.
        nationalist “defeats” I clearly dont like.
        And thats uncomfortable to blog about.

        NILT survey is a major blow for LetSGetAlongerists. So I fully understand the “nothing to see here” tactic on Slugger…and indeed the diversionary tactics.
        All standard fare in the PARTISAN Blogging World in which I live.

        Of course the difference is that I DO have an agenda…the advancement of the nationalist-republican-socialist “cause” I make no pretence at neutrality.
        Slugger is a Blog of record. And there the partizanship is not so acceptable when it is alongside assertions of impartiality.

  14. Political Tourist says:

    Opening universities to working class kids in the 1960s probably did more damage to the “Orange State” than a ton of Provo Semtex.

    • kalista63 says:

      Yep…the very reason why the state reacted to the repercussions of it with the violence to which republicans reacted, leading to the birth of the Provos.

  15. factual says:

    We in Dublin are keen to see more integrated education. If there is to be a UI the twin problems – economic and social underperformance – need to be resolved. We cannot afford a divided NI with the extra costs that brings.

  16. This whole pile of keek which is the integrated/shared education is really only unionism with a fancy ribbon. If you really supported shared education within a shared future framework you would not be seeking it within an internal solution scenario. It would have to take in all the relationships. Therefore if you were interested in a shared future that works people should be able to access education using the southern curriculum. But of course that is out of the question, we do not want any foreign interference in Northern Ireland’s internal shared future – do we?

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  18. Ronan Burns says:

    There was a room, a small room, a very small room. In that very small room, there were 4 people and an elephant. The room was over-crowded. The 4 people continually discussed the over-crowding but none of them mentioned the elephant. The room remained over-crowded.

    Since the mid 1960s we, in Northern Ireland, have had almost continuous debate about integrated education but nobody has mentioned the major issue – guaranteeing that, in a single education system, Catholics would get fair play. Hence, widespread integrated education remains a pipe-dream.

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