Sectarian Orange Order should be outlawed

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

Sammy Heenan (Orange Order is consistent in condemning all terrorism, March 13) writing as “an ordinary grassroots Orangeman” describes as naïve the comments of Rev Brian Kennaway who suggested that the Orange Order is ambivalent and hypocritical in its approach to those sympathetic to loyalists.

Mr Heenan claimed the Orange Order has been consistent in its condemnation of terrorism irrespective of its origins. Facts don’t support Mr Heenan’s words.

The fact that convicted Shankill Butcher Eddie McIlwaine was an Orange Order steward at the 2014 July 12th march past St Patrick’s Catholic Church on Donegall Street is sufficient reason alone why this sectarian body should be outlawed.

On 26th June 1966 Catholic barman Peter Ward was shot dead as he left a pub on Malvern Street, Belfast. In October that year Gusty Spence was sentenced to life imprisonment for his murder. During its 12th July 1967 march, the Orange lodge to which Spence belonged stopped outside the prison in tribute to him.

The Orange Order continues to permit the carrying of sectarian banners and emblems of illegal loyalist paramilitary organisations. Many prominent loyalist militants were members of the Orange Order. This includes Robert Bates, Davy Payne, David Ervine, John Bingham, George Seawright, Billy McCaughey, Brian Robinson and Robert McConnell.

One wonders if there Is an organisation, bible based or not, anywhere on this planet that welcomes as members those who murder Catholics but expels members who marry one?.

The defence of the Orange Order by Mr Heenan is trawling the sewers of hypocrisy. Perhaps Mr Heenan might explain why the annual Whiterock Orange Order parade includes an Orange Order standard bearing a picture of Shankill Road UVF killer Noel Kinner who randomly murdered an innocent Catholic?

Or why there is not alone toleration of a mural to Brian Robinson, the UVF gunman who also murdered a Catholic in a random sectarian attack in 1989, but is also commemorated by Orange Order banners as they strut their sectarian stuff past where Robinson’s victim was murdered.

To those who may feel I am unreasonably biased or unfair in my critique of the Orange Order, may I leave the final words to former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Patrick Mayhew.

In 1992, and subsequent years, a parade of Orangemen passing a bookmakers office in Belfast where five Catholics had been shot dead by loyalists, ostentatiously gave a five fingered salute in mockery of the five men who had been murdered. Mr Mayhew said their actions “would have disgraced a tribe of cannibals let alone Protestants marching under a flag of the United Kingdom”.

Tom Cooper, Dublin