The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland has slammed “erroneous” claims made in the Assembly on Monday by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness that recent racist and sectarian attacks in East Belfast were orchestrated by “elements in the UVF, with some assistance from elements in the Orange Order”.
An Orange Order spokesman said: “This ludicrous outburst and sweeping allegation by Mr McGuinness is the latest cynical attempt by the republican movement to demonise the Orange Institution.
“While republicans are renowned for propaganda, namely telling lies and keeping on repeating them, this most recent shameful claim from a convicted terrorist is entirely without substance.
“Having swapped violence for verbal attacks, Mr McGuinness is clearly trying to mask the internal difficulties within republicanism; and detract from the recent ‘On The Runs’ scandal, the case of Jean McConville and his party’s conditional support for policing.”
Speaking in the Assembly on Monday and answering a question in relation to whether recent racist and sectarian attacks were orchestrated, Mr McGuinness said: “I have made it crystal clear in the course of recent times that a lot of the violence that has occurred on the streets of Belfast has been orchestrated by elements in the UVF, with some assistance from elements in the Orange Order. I note that, on a number of occasions...”
This allegation was countered with “shame on you, shame on you” by TUV leader Jim Allister.
Mr McGuinness added: “I note that, on a number of occasions when I have been at the Dispatch Box, not one Member from the unionist Benches has had the courage to challenge my assertion that the UVF and the Orange Order are responsible.
“That is what we have been dealing with.
“Until such times as people are prepared to do what I do in the community that I represent — standing against even threats to my life from so-called dissident republicans — and unless we get to a point at which that is done by all of us, we are not moving forward.”
In a statement the Orange Order spokesman said: “The Orange Order has not been responsible for any criminality, alluded to under the cover of parliamentary privilege, and would unequivocally condemn all racist and sectarian attacks.
“If Mr McGuinness has any information about membership of loyalist or republican paramilitary groups then he should pass it to the PSNI as a matter of urgency.
“When doing so, he should also be more forthcoming with the truth regarding his role, and that of others, in the heinous hate crimes inflicted on this society by the IRA.”