Issue 2 - 2024 200dpi

9 July 1998 Edition

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Stand firm against sectarianism

The issue of Orange marches in nationalist areas has once again underlined the continuing sectarian nature of society in the Six Counties.

There are up to 3,000 marches every year by the various loyal orders; less than 1% of these are intolerable to nationalist residents. What must be repeated is that this is an issue of civil rights and equality under the law for nationalists in the Six Counties and only inclusive dialogue can begin the process of finding a solution.

The refusal to meet the democratically chosen repreentatives of the nationalist community of Garvaghy Road and elsewhere is the clearest evidence that the Orange Order does not subscribe to the principle of equality. Those unionist politicians who support the Orange Order in their stance are obviously opposed to equality also.

It is this sectarian refusal to accept nationalists and Catholics as equals which has fuelled sectarianism in all its manifestations in the Six Counties, including the countless murders of Catholic civilians over the decades.

What we are now witnessing is the dying wasp-sting of an ideology which has underpinned the Northern state from its inception. The Six County entity was established as a `Protestant state for a Protestant people' and it was through the Orange lodges that this ideology was maintained among the various classes straddled by unionism.

The growing confidence of the nationalist community in the Six Counties in recent years, and the political changes heralded by the Good Friday Agreement with its commitment to equality and justice has had a huge effect on those who are afraid of change and have always opposed it. Reactionary loyalism is lashing out and has chosen the marches issue on which to make its stand.

Those unionists who are opposed to the Agreement and to the leadership of the Ulster Unionist Party are regrouping around the marches issue.

The Orange menace must be faced down so that the path to democracy and equality can be pursued in peace. The nationalist community is confident and determined to achieve justice. It will not be going down onto its knees in the face of loyalist violence. The question is whether the British government has the same fortitude.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1