Irish News columnist branded "bitter" by Orange Order's David McNarry

Fionnuala O Connor
Marie Louise McConville

IRISH News columnist Fionnuala O Connor has been branded "bitter" by a member of the Orange Order during a heated radio debate about sectarianism within the organisation.

Ms O'Connor was a guest on BBC Radio Ulster's Talk Back programme yesterday.

She had been asked to comment after former Presbyterian Moderator Dr Ken Newell said that there was a "reservoir of anti-Catholicism and sectarianism" within the organisation.

His remarks came after a prominent Orangeman urged members to stop using the term 'RIP' to commemorate deaths which the organisation views as 'unbiblical'.

During a discussion, David McNarry, a member of the UK Independence Party in Northern Ireland, who has been a member of the Orange Order for 40 years, said: "I have never known or experienced sectarianism in it. That's a personal experience. It just doesn't arise. It just doesn't happen".

"There's a problem when Orangeism is put in the spotlight and the light is shone on it and it particularly comes across when the Orange Order at times is demonstrating its anger at something it doesn't like," he said.

Joining the debate Ms O Connor said: "Is the Orange Order sectarian .....of course it is. It was founded to be anti-Catholic.

"Does it have a problem with sectarianism, of course it does and it's very hard for it to get away from that since its the essence of its being.

"Essentially, it is a sectarian organisation and I don't see how it can ever be anything less".

However in a further exchange, where Ms OConnor also described Orange Order grand chaplain Mervyn Gibson as "nice" and "cuddly", Mr McNarry branded the Irish News columnist "so bitter".

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