Election Diary: Bell omits any Orange reference from flyers

Jonathan Bell
Jonathan Bell

There was a time when unionist politicians felt that being a member of the Orange Order was a prerequisite to getting elected.

While the institution still maintains massive influence (not least because of its members’ high turnout in elections), those days have passed and now none of the three main unionist leaders are Orangemen.

But now a DUP politician who is a member of the Orange Order has omitted any mention of the Loyal Orders from his election literature.

Jonathan Bell, who is standing in South Belfast, a seat which has probably the most liberal population of any Northern Ireland constituency, made no mention of his membership of the Loyal Orders in his eight-page glossy leaflet.

Nor did Mr Bell mention the Loyal Orders in a separate envelope-enclosed letter to voters across the constituency.

Fifteen years ago Mr Bell, who at that point was a Craigavon councillor, was heavily involved in efforts to get the Drumcree parade along the Garvaghy Road in Portadown.

But in his literature, Mr Bell lists everything from his time as a UNESCO English language teacher to his period on the Human Rights Commission to his love for cycling and reading, but makes no mention of the Loyal Orders.

Adams wants NI vote on the EU

Despite opposing partition, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has called for a Northern Ireland-only vote on the European Union – if there is a UK-wide referendum on membership of the EU.

Mr Adams said that “a British referendum which took the north out of the EU would reinforce partition and have major negative implications for the island economy, people living in the border counties, farmers and workers”.

The Louth TD said: “The referendum will allow the views of English voters to dictate the future relationship of the north with Europe...It would reinforce partition. The already economically disruptive border would be reinforced by an international frontier staffed by passport checkpoints and customs control.”