John Laird (Lord Laird of Artigarvan) part biography
- A struggle to be heard

ISBN: 978-0-9566507-1-9
Paperback: 2010
Pages: 280


John Laird’s book is a witty and drôle take on issues of identity in Northern Ireland today. The book is a striking addition to the province’s list of political memoirs. More than that, it shows the original cast of mind of a man who believed above all in the power of the sceptical intellect.
Lord Bew of Donegore
Professor of Politics, Queen’s University Belfast

A spirited and lively new Unionist voice; an Ulster journey.
Dr Austen Morgan
Barrister in London and Belfast

John Laird urges a new self-confidence for Unionism, in the legacy of the Ulster Scot tradition, which he sees as liberalism, rarely acknowledged by either adherents or opponents.
Lord Eames of Armagh
Former Anglican Primate of All Ireland

Executive Summary:

1. Modern liberal thinking holds that nationalism, in all its forms, is backward looking and out of tune with the modern world.
2. Ulster Scots cultural thinking is broad based and forward thinking, with an important role to play in the development of the modern world, in keeping with its contribution over the last four hundred years.
3. The Irish, when not politically motivated, are amongst the finest people in the world.
4. ‘Equality deferred is equality denied.’ A small group of politically motivated Irish people control sections of the Northern Ireland civil service and the BBC, in such a way as to hold up the manifestation of Ulster Scots culture and thinking. This, I feel is due to a lack of self-confidence, and fear.
5. Those who are dyslexic will continue to increase their influence in society.
6. We must all be convinced, by peaceful means, that the world’s future lies in larger political units. The only idea of borders is to keep money in and unwanted cultures out.
7. Artigarvan is a wonderful place in which to spend a childhood.
8. Irish nationalism has been a negative influence on the British Isles.

Preface - (first 600 words only)

‘big lad, you’re getting above yourself – Laird writing a book!’

I can just hear my friends’ and others’ reaction at the idea of me writing about myself. And I agree with their viewpoint. I have not undertaken the usual worthwhile tasks that are generally considered to make an autobiography interesting beyond one’s close family. But this book is not an autobiography. At least that is how I see it.

This is the story of an ordinary Ulster Scot, Ulster Unionist or Ulster Protestant making his journey through life in his native trouble-racked province, in the latter part of the twentieth century and on into the twenty first. What it is not, is a day-by-day or a month-by-month or even a year-by-year account of an average enough life.

I have been interested in current affairs, which in Northern Ireland includes history, from as early as I can remember and long before achieving a number of recognisable positions. As a result, I am constantly asked to explain the Unionist case or to outline my Ulster Scots background.

There seems to be little analysis of those two topics for the ordinary punter. Why did, and why do I, spend so much time upholding Unionism and why am I so pleased to be of an Ulster Scots background? These questions and more I try to answer in these pages.

I believe that we are all made up of our reactions to that which has happened to us, directly and indirectly. So, using selected sections of my life, I map the journey from the small boy steeped in Unionism, or ‘the Cause’, to the rational grown-up of pension age. I still have most of the basic values and beliefs intact. But as a result of that journey, I am no longer a ‘paper Unionist’ or ‘paper Ulster Scot’, but one who has, almost day-by-day, thought out his position and now regards himself as a practical exponent of those two major beliefs.

The journey from the atmosphere in which I was born to this day was strewn with doubt, mixed messages, confusion and occasional revision of my views. And it was none the worse for any of that.

As well as our backgrounds, we are created by the circumstances we meet in life. I try to explore the circumstances, both positive and negative, that I encountered in my life, and consider how they affirmed or changed my views. I examine my Ulster Scots background, or Scotch/Scots Irish as they call it in America, and come to terms with how it affected my community, my family and me.

The Ulster Scots people are often regarded as that section of the Scottish race that was hardened on the anvil of Ulster. Their story is one of hardship, independence of spirit and a search for equality and justice. The Ulster Scots community produced some most remarkable people including seventeen American presidents, two men who would stand on the moon, some major figures of business, the church, and science and of war. Their story is one that changed the course of history at many points. They had the vision and drive to help create what is now the United States of America. For a small group moved mostly from the border of Scotland and England to the northern part of the island of Ireland, their contribution to the modern world is out of all proportion to their size. Yet by our nature, we of that ethnic group either play down or do not know who we are. I sincerely hope that this publication will inform at least some.

Copyright © 2012 John Laird