Last month the Orange Order grand master wrote an article in the News Letter explaining why the institution opposed an Irish language act (ILA).
In that piece (see link below), Edward Stevenson recapped on sectarian comments attributed to Gerry Adams on using the “Trojan horse” of equality.
It cannot be stated often enough that if a unionist leader had said something even half as despicable as that, about “breaking” nationalists, they would be politically finished.
But not only is Mr Adams unscathed, his power if anything is at its zenith. The political world has been brought to a halt in Northern Ireland under his leadership.
This is shameful state of affairs, and underlines why Sinn Fein’s destabilising conduct since January must not be rewarded in any way, or it will just recur within a few years.
It certainly cannot be rewarded with an Irish language act, or any legislation that has the same effect.
Yesterday a news report said that unionist negotiators were suggesting cultural legislation “that would also involve support for Ulster Scots and possibly the Orange Order”.
It is not clear what such “support” might mean, and in any event this is just one source. There have been many different claims about what might be being considered in the talks.
But after the alarming recent suggestion that a sudden deal would be announced, including the key IRA goal of Irish language legislation, there are now more encouraging signals.
The widely respected grand secretary to the Orange Order, Rev Mervyn Gibson, has reiterated to the News Letter (see link below) their opposition to an ILA and said they will not be a “bargaining chip” to facilitate such legislation.
And the DUP leader Arlene Foster (see link below) has said that “much more work will be required if we are to reach agreement”. She has urged unionist critics to cease their “scare-mongering”.
If this means the SF red line (backed by, among others, the Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney) of an ILA will be rejected, that is good. Otherwise direct rule is the only way forward.