From Our Northern Irislz Correspondent
The Spanish Government has an ardent champion in Alderman Harry Midgley, M.P., leader of the Belfast Labour party.
He has spared no effort in the press and on the platform to arouse interest and practical support for ambulance work with the Madrid forces.
This can be contrasted with his comparative apathy displayed during the late troubles in Belfast, when wholesale clearances of his Catholic constituents were attempted and life and property endangered.
Mr. Midgley undertook recently to reply to a lecture given by the Rev. Dr. Ryan, of Queen's University, Belfast, on " Spain, the Church, and Europe." It was intimated to the speaker that Dr. Ryan wished to attend; and, in justice to the Alderman, it must be admitted that he cordially invited the professor to be present.
For nearly two hours the worthy Alderman held the platform. Not only Spain but the whole of Europe and beyond he ranged in his attempt to connect the rise of dictatorships with the silence of the Church. He accused the Catholic Church of being the virtual ruler of Spain for the past 500 years.
Dr. Ryan's Speech
Dr. Ryan had a fine reception when he rose to reply. Keeping strictly to the original point of issue, which was democracy and what legitimately constituted a democratic government, Fr. Ryan briefly traced the history of the Left Government from its inception until, goaded by repeated outrages, murder, arson and lootings, the revolution was inc.. vitable.
Any Government failing in its primary duty to protect the lives and property of citizens " whether they wore the black stock of a priest or the red tie of a Communist " forfeited all right to democratic title.
The attitude of the Church in Europe and particularly in Spain was defended by the speaker, who went on to say that time and again during the past century successive Liberal and anti-clerical Governments in Spain had pillaged church property.
The meeting, which was good-tempered and very orderly throughout, ended in a friendly fashion. Dr. Ryan is no stranger to Labour gatherings; as he himself stated, tha only political party to which he had ever belonged was the Independent Labour Party.