Last weekend’s Observer reports that Francis Campbell, the new British Ambassador to the Vatican, “will be the first Irishman to represent the UK abroad since the partition of Ireland in 1921”. The Zenit newsagency goes a step further, saying he is “the first Irish Catholic to be elevated to ambassador since the republic of Ireland was granted independence in 1921”.
Er, no, not really. My cousin Dermot MacDermot was an Irish Catholic who was also a British ambassador almost fifty years ago. His cousin Brian MacDermot was also a British ambassador at the end of his career, but had earlier been Chargé d’Affaires at the British representation to the Holy See (contra the Zenit story that only Protestants were allowed to hold that position from 1917 on).
There are lots of things I don’t like about the British state’s relationship with my religion. But we should give credit where it is due.