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23 July 2009 Edition

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The Mary Nelis Column

The real reason the Orange Order won’t talk

I suppose it could be described as the last hurrah of the UDA but a spokesperson for the Derry and North Antrim Branch of the UPRG denied any UDA involvement.
He was a speaking after what he claimed was a ‘silent and dignified’ protest march through the Waterside area of Derry City last week to address what the UPRG describe as a ‘lack of support for loyalists communities from elected unionist representatives’.
Under parades legislation 28 days notice is required for all parades but in this instance no notice was given and the UPRG has indicated that there may be similar protests in the future, although the PSNI and the DUP Gregory Campbell have claimed that those taking part hadn’t broken the law.
Despite denials by the UPRG, and the presence of an alleged senior UDA man known as ‘The Mexican’, last week’s illegal march in Derry had all the hall marks of that organisation.
Some five years ago the UDA announced their intention of painting Orange lines around Protestant housing estates in the City. The raison dêtre then in their bid to reinforce the concept of Orange ghettoes was the bizarre claim that ‘one community was growing faster than the other’. Translated then and now that simply means that the UDA and those other offshoots of unionism can no longer claim that ‘what they have they hold’ and in places like Derry, are observing with ever increasing paranoia, the green menace growing all around them.
Despite the grossly offensive flags, the red, white and blue kerbstones and the ‘keep out’ signs to Catholics, Orange unionism in Derry is convinced that what they perceive as their territory is under threat. Such political paranoia is fed by Gregory Campbell, the DUP elected representative, who has consistently claimed that Protestants have been forced out of the West Bank of the River Foyle, and will be forced out of the city altogether if they fail to circle the wagons.
That Campbell has created a ‘victim community’ mindset among Derry unionists is borne out by the UPRG spokesperson who claimed at last week’s protest march that the unionist community in Derry is ‘disenfranchised, isolated, and receiving no benefits from the Good Friday Agreement’.
The more cynical among us might view such pronouncements as the UDA restating their demand for mega bucks in exchange for the decommissioning of their arsenal of weapons.
Whatever the sense of victimhood created among working class unionists by their politicians, it is the British Government who must take responsibility for the current situation. By pandering to the demands of extreme loyalism under whatever label, they have actively prevented the emergence of an enlightened and progressive movement among the Protestant population. Their ‘pussy footing’ on the weapons issue; their indulgence of the ritual offensive Orange marches through areas where they are clearly not wanted such as the Ardoyne and the Garvaghy Road; the financial inducements or whatever secret deals the NIO have negotiated with unionist paramilitaries, have all caused immense psychological and political damage to the Protestant community and reinforced the apartheid mindset which still hankers after the days of unionist superiority.
That’s the real reason the Orange Order won’t talk with Gerry Adams and that’s why the UDA under the guise of the UPRG continues to flex its paramilitary muscle in illegal marches through Derry. 

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