21 August 1997 Edition
I was interested to hear recently on RTE Radio (Ireland Tonight) representatives from the Orange Order justify their parades marching through Nationalist areas on the pretext that they are upholding and preserving their religious tradition.
Are these gentlemen aware that Jesus thought freedom was more important than religious tradition? He repeatedly criticised the Loyalists of his day, the Pharisees, an elite religious sect (who in 2BC were known as the Hasidaens, `god's loyal ones') for disregarding equality, justice and freedom in favour of their extraordinary peculiar oppressive traditions which they imposed on their fellow Jews by force. ``You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!'' (Mark 7).
Jesus was brought up in a sectarian country. The Pharisees were renowned for being inflexible and tyrannical. He recognised that these traditions were preventing the country from developing into a free, just, democratic and progressive society.
If the Orange Order are sincere in wanting to preserve Protestantism then why don't they demonstrate humility which is the hallmark of a true Protestant, and relinquish this tradition of marching through Nationalists areas? Why not, in the spirit of that great Protestant reformer and preacher John Wesley turn instead their attentions to that of bending the knee?
I for one am glad that John Bruton will not be negotiating our future with the British government. If northern nationalists had to rely on him to put the Irish case (for justice and equality and an end to British interference) I'm afraid we would all be condemned to many more years of conflict.
John Burton has consistently failed to deal with the root causes of the conflict. Already his successor as Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, has shown more realism and given us more hope that the issues which concern northern nationalists will be dealt with in negotiations with the British government.
There will have to be fundamental changes in the situation of northern nationalists if there is to be justice done and if peace is to be built on a firm foundation. Justice is the issue not consent which is another word for veto. Only when justice is done and human rights respected can all the citizens of this country, including unionists, enjoy real and lasting peace.
The reactionary mindset which regards the unionists as British and regards unionists as the British presence in Ireland has to be seen for what it is - another form of fascism and blackmail.
Reactionary unionists oppose any kind of justice and fair-play for northern nationalists just as the right wing in South Africa opposed any kind of change in the constitutional situation of the native African population. Only when there is a radical change in the political and constitutional status quo will the reactionary unionist mindset which John Bruton exemplifies be deconditioned. Only through peace negotiations can we hope to see the deconditioning of this reactionary unionist mindset - a colonial mentality - which has opposed change and equal rights for far too long. It is now up to the two governments to ensure that justice is done and that our basic rights are respected in law. This will not be a victory for anybody but a blessing for all.
Fr Joe McVeigh,
Following a very successful Deireadh Seachtaine John Joe McGirl in Ballinamore August 8-10 I would like to thank Martin McGuinness MP for his fine memorial lecture, Eoghan Mac Cormaic and Edel Kelly for their talk on `Prison Struggle' and of course Alderman Seán Mac Manus.
Thanks also to Padráig Delaney, Vincent Kenny, Maeve Delaney, Pat Gilhooly, Joe Gallogly and Jim Smith. Buíochas speisialta to Corinna as Sligeach who did the brochure, the exhibition and the photographs.