Thursday, June 21, 2007

The New President is invested with his Badge of Office

The New President is invested with his Badge of Office
Originally uploaded by ulstersociety

At the End of Year formal the New President of the Ulster Society (Andrew Charles) was invested with his badge of office by Peter Weir MLA and the Past-President Graham Barton.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Ulster Society Officers 2007/8


Andrew Charles B.A.

Andrew is a Ph.D. Postgraduate student researching within the field of Health Science. As a Graduate of Politics and Social Policy at Queen's he is a former member of the SRCSU (2004-06) and a past Editor of "The Gown", the independent student newpaper at Queen's. He has a personal blog,


Thomas Hogg


Dean McSorley

Dean is studying International Studies. He is also a member of Students' Representative Council.


Scott Carson

Scott is studying Politics. He is a member of Students' Representative Council and Chair of the International Students' Committee.

Events Secretary:

Sharon Simpson

Sharon is a final year geography student and the Student Community Action officer in the Students' Union. She is also a former member of Student Representative Council (SRC).

Director of the National Ulster Society:

Gordon Lucy B.A.

Born in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh.Educated at Portora Royal School, Enniskillen and Queen’s University of Belfast. Gordon Lucy has an Honours degree in History and is a qualified teacher.He is a well regarded Ulster historian and the author of a number of books on unionist history, including The Ulster Covenant (1989) and The Great Convention (1995), and has co-edited (with John Erskine) Varieties of Scottishness (1995), which examines the relationship between Ulster and Scotland, and (with Elaine McClure) The Twelfth: What it means to me (1997), Remembrance (1997) and Cool Britannia? What Britishness means to me (1999) and most recently Schomberg (2004). Mr Lucy is also Hon. Treasurer of the Ulster-Scots Heritage Council, an umbrella organisation for Ulster-Scots groups both in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Honary President:

Lord Laird of Artigarvan

Lord Laird, an Ulster Peer who has played an active role in the politics of Ulster. A former Chair of the Ulster-Scots Agency and Stormont MP.

Associated Political organisations:

QUB Young Unionists:

Chair: Richard Cairns

Secretary: Richard Reid


QUB Democratic Unionists:

Chair: Thomas W. Hogg

Secretary: Sharon Simpson



Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Denis Stanislaus Henry was born on 7 March 1864 in Cahore, Draperstown, Co. Londonderry, and was the sixth son of James Henry, a prosperous farmer, and his second wife. The family’s devout Roman Catholicism is reflected in the fact that two of Denis Henry’s brothers and two of his sisters responded to vocations. Denis was never ashamed of his religion, was always a generous benefactor to Roman Catholic charities and even the Irish News was willing to acknowledge that he was ‘sincerely attached to the faith of his fathers’.

Exceptionally bright, Denis was educated at Marist College, Dundalk; Mount St Mary College, Chesterfield, a Jesuit foundation; and Queen’s College, Belfast, where he won every law scholarship open to a student and many other prizes and exhibitions. In 1885 he was called to the Irish Bar.

Politically, the Henrys were Liberals but in the period 1885-6, when so many Roman Catholics deserted Liberalism for Parnell’s Nationalist Party, the Henrys did not do so. It does not require much imagination to appreciate why a prosperous and law-abiding Roman Catholic family would view with antipathy the actual violence of the Land League and the violent rhetoric of Irish Nationalism. A violent speech by Michael Davitt, the founder of the Land League, in Draperstown in August 1883 may have been of crucial importance. Thus, the family ‘declined to go with Gladstone when he took up Home Rule’: they became Liberal Unionists – Liberals, like Joseph Chamberlain, who believed passionately in the maintenance of the Union.

During the general election campaign of 1895 Denis Henry spoke in support of Unionist candidates in two constituencies: Thomas Lea in South Londonderry, Henry’s native constituency, and E.T. Herdman in East Donegal.

Henry’s legal career flourished – he became a QC in 1896, a Bencher of the King’s Inn in 1898 and ultimately ‘Father of the North-West Circuit’ – but his interest in politics did not diminish. By March 1905 he was a delegate at the inaugural meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council and the Unionist parliamentary candidate for North Tyrone seat.

North Tyrone was an extraordinarily finely balanced constituency, often returning MPs with wafer-thin majorities. In the general election of 1906
the Unionist electors of North Tyrone turned out in force to vote for Henry.
Although Henry was unsuccessful in his bid to become the MP for the constituency, he succeeded in reducing the Liberal majority to nine. An astonishing 96.44% of those entitled to vote exercised the franchise. For his pains, Henry was denounced by the Irish News as ‘one of that weird class of creature known as an Irish Catholic Unionist’.

As Henry had accurately anticipated, W. H. Dodd, the successful Liberal candidate was appointed a judge in February 1907. In the subsequent by-election in March 1907, despite a turnout of 97.09%, Henry managed to erode the new Liberal candidate’s majority to a mere seven votes.

‘In recognition of his two spirited contests in the constituency’, the Unionist women of North Tyrone presented Henry in April 1907 with pieces of plate, for which there had been 2,635 subscribers. Perusal of Ulster Unionist Council Yearbooks reveals that Henry was President of North Tyrone Unionist Association in 1907, 1908 and 1909. However he did not contest the seat in the general elections of January and December 1910. Instead, on 1 October 1910 he married Violet Holmes, the daughter of the Rt Hon Henry Holmes, a former Conservative Solicitor General and Attorney General for Ireland. During the 1907 by-election campaign one of Henry’s speeches had been interrupted by a strident female voice: ‘Away and get a good Presbyterian wife.’ However, Violet Holmes was an Anglican rather than ‘a good Presbyterian.’

In February 1909 he gave a speech in Portsmouth explaining the Unionist case to an English audience. Significantly, the speech focused on the growth and prevalence of agrarian crime in Ireland, especially boycotting and cattle driving. This focus is particularly interesting in light of the Henry family’s decision not to go with Gladstone in 1885-6. Throughout his career Henry was firmly attached to the rule of law.

As the third Home Rule crisis unfolded, Henry proposed a motion at a major Unionist demonstration at the Rotunda in Dublin in November 1912. As a KC, Henry lived in Dublin – in January 1910 five Unionist lawyer MPs had Dublin addresses – and was active in the affairs of Dublin City and County Unionist Committee. On 23 May 1916, in the first by-election to be held in Ireland after the Easter rebellion, he was elected MP for South Londonderry. The rebellion made no discernible impact on the contest at all.

In November 1918 he became Solicitor General for Ireland and in July 1919 Attorney General for Ireland. In the latter office, Henry was virtually the acting Chief Secretary for Ireland in the absence of Ian Macpherson and Sir Hamar Greenwood, successive holders of the post. In Parliament it was his lot to defend and explain government policy during the Anglo-Irish War of 1919-1921, as Ireland spiralled headlong into anarchy and chaos. He carried a heavy workload and lived under the constant threat of death at the hands of IRA assassins.

With the establishment of the Northern Ireland state, Henry became the state’s first Lord Chief Justice in August 1921. On 1 October 1921 the Supreme Courts of Justice of Northern Ireland were established. This too was to entail an onerous workload. Exactly four years later – on his fifteenth wedding anniversary – he died, almost certainly from stress and overwork. He was only 61. He was buried at Straw, near Draperstown.

Nationalists frequently invoke a litany of Protestant names – Tone, Emmet, Mitchel, Parnell and Childers – often as a veneer to conceal a vulgar and distasteful Catholic triumphalism. Unionists rarely invoke the Catholic Unionist tradition. Protestant nationalists invariably have a high profile but are not very numerous. Catholic unionists, by comparison, are more numerous but tend to be almost invisible. Sir John Gorman is a notable and conspicuous exception. Catholic Unionists are not mythical creatures like the unicorn, the griffin or the mermaid, mere figments of fevered imaginations.

Gordon Lucy
The Ulster Society

Friday, June 15, 2007

Society Formal a Great Success!

Top Table at the Formal
Originally uploaded by ulstersociety

The End of Year Formal last night was a great success, and the pictures from the night can be seen here on flickr.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Consultation to Irish Language Bill

Margaret O'Keeffe
Irish Language Bill Team
Department of Culture, Arts & Leisure
3rd Floor Interpoint
20-24 York Street
BT15 1AQ

Friday, 01 June 2007

Dear Margaret O'Keeffe,

Re: Irish Language Bill Consultation

The Officers and Members of the Ulster Society would like to express our distress at the current legislation proposed for the promotion of the Irish language.

We believe that it has been proposed only for political reasons as a sop to republicanism in the current process. It will only act as a further tool, used by those politicians, to create and advance a distinct and separate ‘Irish’ identity, quite contrary to the “shared future” ideas generally pursued by the government.

The divisions caused by the legislation, though resentment of the preferential treatment of Irish over Ulster-Scots, and in the association of the Irish language with Sinn Fein / IRA will only insure that this bill will undermine community relations and be detrimental to the progression of the Irish language in a non-political sense, such as is seen with Scots Gaelic in Scotland. Within that jurisdiction (and largely with Welsh in Wales) it is not associated with nationalism, or with particular ideologies or communities and thus cannot be perceived negatively by the community at large. This is not the case in Northern Ireland.

The only possible solution is to have parity of esteem, funding and legal protection for both Irish and Ulster-Scots. Only this equality would stop resentment and fracturing within the community.

Yours sincerely on behalf of the Ulster Society,

Graham Steven Barton
President, 06/07