Letters to the Editor

Orange Order applies double standards to memory of victims

Recently Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald extended an invitation to meet the Orange Order who declined giving the reason that it would “insult the memory of their murdered members”.
While the Orange Order has the right to meet who it wants many within the nationalist community will draw breath and try not to reach for the sick bag when it comes to the double standards of the Orange Order and wider unionism in general regarding ‘respect shown to the memory of murdered individuals’. 

A short trawl of the internet and media sources will reveal that the Orange Order seems to pay no regard whatsoever to the memory of those murdered by Orange Order members but instead prefers to laud and commemorate those within their organisation who were also loyalist paramilitaries and involved in the most heinous of sectarian crimes.

During the Drumcree crisis the Orange Order and constitutional unionism had no qualms consorting and negotiating with notorious loyalists Billy Wright and Johnny Adair as their alphabetical paramilitary companies marched to ‘the front’ in unison with ‘the Orange’ whose members blocked roads and brought anarchy to the north. I wonder how much the Orange Order ‘remembers and shows respect’ to the Quinn children murdered in their beds in Ballymoney during this period? 

Furthermore, in 1992 an Orange Order march passed the scene of the Sean Graham bookies on the Lower Ormeau Road in Belfast. TV footage showed Orange Order members gloating and shouting pro-UDA slogans while holding up five  fingers as a taunt to residents.
The Orange Order also do not appear to have much problem with convicted Shankill Butcher Eddie McIlwaine acting as a steward in their parades on July 12 2014 (on public record).

Ultimately the double standards of the Orange Order, ‘constitutional’ unionism and media can be exposed with reference to one Orange Lodge based on the Shankill Road in Belfast, The Old Boyne Heroes LOL 633.
On their bannerette are listed six dead UVF men who were members of the same Lodge – Aubrey Reid, killed on active UVF service; Noel Shaw, killed in an internal UVF feud; John Bingham, UVF commander and mass sectarian killer; Brian Robinson who murdered an innocent Catholic and who has an annual loyalist/Orange parade in his honour; Bobby Basher Bates, UVF and Shankill Butcher; Colin Craig, UVF member. 

Belfast BT15 


DUP intent on wreaking havoc when Brexit train finally crashes

The result of the vote on the so-called ‘meaningful vote’ in parliament (June 20), confirms what many of us opposed to Brexit have known all along – we are headed for a train-crash exit from the EU.  A defeat on this Dominic Grieve amendment for the government would have given MPs the power to veto a no-deal Brexit and send Wobbly May back to the negotiating table until something approaching acceptable to the ‘mother’ parliament could be hammered out. But, despite all the hype that Wobbly could very possibly lose the crucial vote, in the end the government won by a margin of 16, (319 to 303). Seven votes from Sinn Fein MPs, had they taken part, would not have mattered, the margin would still have been nine.

In the end, Grieve incredulously voted against his own amendment, proving beyond all measure of doubt that party and personal ambition trump country when it comes to Tory loyalties. And, of course, the 10 DUP votes against the amendment considerably enhanced the margin of victory, which would otherwise have been a paltry six votes. The Tory votes against are easily explained – whipped to within an inch of their lives, few Tory MPs would have dared vote against their own government as, most assuredly, they would very soon rue the day. The DUP votes are also easily explained – their confidence and supply deal means they were obliged to vote against.  What is not so easily explained, however, is why the DUP take such obvious delight in helping wield the axe that is destroying the chances of cutting any sort of reasonable deal.

Day-by-day the prospect of a no-deal Brexit grows.  The consequences for Ireland are dire and have been well documented by many expert sources.  Yet, blind to these outcomes and deaf to all counter argument, the DUP bull on, intent on wreaking havoc when the train finally crashes, putting at risk the delicate peace process here and jeopardising Ireland’s relative economic prosperity. Why? Is the Tory pact and the DUP’s impermanent position of power worth more to their collective ego than peace and prosperity at home? Are the chances of a hard Brexit driving forward the prospect of a border poll and risking a breakup of ‘the precious union’ worth it? The answer has got to be yes, because there isn’t a scrap of evidence to the contrary. It is well-known that having power can often go to the head and affect judgment – often for the worse.  I can only surmise that the DUP have fallen victim to this state of mind.

Unfortunately, what may be merely regrettable for them, could prove to be catastrophic for the rest of us.

Omagh, Co Tyrone


SF principles long since replaced

The only thing conciliatory about Sinn Fein’s get together with the heir to the British throne was the disconcerting fact that they appeared to be the only ones pacified in the room.

Humiliating as it was to watch the beaming smiles on the faces of Gerry Kelly, Carál Ní Chuilín and Deirdre Hargey grow and grow as the colonel and chief of the Parachute Regiment accorded what ever time he was instructed to designate them from his schedule. The embarrassment increased with the ever growing awareness of the power relationship in the room and who held the dominant and subservient roles within it.

Classic Animal Farm once again played out to an audience that is now so numb they no longer stare in the window to see who Sinn Féin currently shares the trough with or how many legs they walk on during their meets and greets.

Principles have long since been replaced by the overarching theme of capitulation, which is why no one goes to the barn anymore to re-write the commandments, because pacification is the order of the day and in a room full of nodding heads, there’s no need.

Belfast BT13


Border poll debate

You know the unionist argument is failing when Peter Robinson tries to argue that a simple majority is not enough to secure a united Ireland, or if a border poll is held,  another one cannot be held for another generation. He knows too well that the vast majority of the people of Northern Ireland voted for the Good Friday Agreement which clearly states that a border poll can come every seven years post the first one. Maybe he is thinking if they can get one called early before the expected demographic changes kicks in, and if they  win it, they can rule out another vote for 30 years? Arguing against a simple majority or even depriving a vote for a generation, even if valid polls suggested that a majority was in favour, is clearly undemocratic. First past the post has been used in every single UK election, so if it’s good enough for the UK, then sure it’s good enough for us. I wish Peter a very happy retirement, and hopefully he will reach the right old age of 100, when the president will sent him a lovely birthday card.

Belfast, BT5

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