An Orange hall in Newry was filled to capacity for an event this week to discuss the republican terror onslaught on unionist border communities.
Tuesday’s meeting, at the RL Mitchell Memorial Hall, was addressed by Professor Henry Patterson, who has written a book about Troubles violence at the frontier between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
The gathering, entitled ‘A Border Between Truth and Justice – an Evening of Reflection,’ was opened by Rev Norman Hutton, who told the story of Robert Mitchell, the anniversary of whose 1977 murder was on Tuesday.
Mr Mitchell, after whom the Orange Hall is named, was a businessman and JP killed by the IRA. Rev Hutton recounted how two gunmen took his sisters hostage until he returned late one evening, and shot him in front of them.
Prof Patterson talked about his book, about the difficulties the British authorities had faced in receiving Irish co-operation to try to stop terrorists using the Republic as a base, and about the one-sided nature of the legacy narrative.
Even now, he said, many references to the border in relation to Brexit failed to acknowledge the security reasons why the border was so policed during the Troubles.
Rev Alan Irwin, whose father and uncle were both murdered by the IRA, told the audience his personal story. He previously addressed the Ulster Unionist conference, where he was scathing about planned legacy structures and those who have “declared evil good, good evil”.
Similar events are planned for other locations.