16 July 1998 Edition
from Congressman Peter King to the residents of the Garvaghy Road
I am writing to express my strongest support and admiration for the courage you are demonstrating in the face of inexcusable intimidation and coercion by the Orange Order.
You can also be sure that the overwhelming majority of Americans of all religions support you as well - because your position is right and just.
The Orange Order must recognise that it has the obligation to enter into dialogue with the residents of any community through which it desires to march. In entering this dialogue the Orange Order must negotiate with the representatives selected by the residents of the community. The Orange Order cannot have a veto power over whom the residents select to be their representatives.
It is also essential that the British Army, the Royal Ulster Constabulary and all British security forces protect and respect the residents of the Garvaghy Road. The security forces can in no way yield to intimidation from the Orange Order.
Yours in Solidarity,
Peter T. King
Member of US Congress
8 July 1998
Bigotry will rule
It is unfair to Protestants throughout the world to characterise the Orange Order of British-occupied Ireland as a fraternal Protestant organisation. Its anti-Catholic bigotry makes it ``Protestant'' only if one chooses to call the Ku Klux Klan a fraternal Protestant organisation.
The chaos and anarchy overtaking British-occupied Ireland is simply a result of the Orange Order's insistence on staging its triumphalist marches through Catholic neighbourhoods where the marchers are unwelcome.
It should be pointed out that the marching season has thus far resulted in the fire-bombing of ten Catholic churches along with the burning to death of three Catholic boys under the age of eleven during a fire-bombing of their home.
Why do the members of the Orange Order insist upon marching through Catholic neighbourhoods come hell or high water?
This is how Leon Uris, a renowned American Jewish author explained the phenomenon in ``Ireland: A Terrible Beauty'' some twenty years ago:
``To continue to intimidate and debase one third of their nation, it is entirely necessary to live in the past.''
In the Republic of Ireland Catholics are not intimidating Protestants with triumphalist parades. It should be obvious that as long as Britain remains in Ireland's northern six counties bigotry will rule - Good Friday accords to the contrary notwithstanding.
Ashamed to be Orange
I am a 62 year old American of Irish extraction.
My grandfather taught me to be proud of the fact that I was an Orangeman. When I was a child I would wear something Orange to school on St Patrick's Day and endure the taunts of my school mates for not wearing green. I would try to explain to them about the battle of the Boyne and express my pride in my ancestry. I continued to do so almost up until the present date.
I have long been ashamed of the rantings of the Rev. Paisley but I tried to ignore him as being the bigoted equivalent of an American leader of the Ku Klux Klan. But the recent stupid demonstrations by the Orangeman and their taunting attempt to march into a Catholic area, topped off by the murder of the three Catholic brothers ended it for me.
I am now ashamed beyond measure. Never again, until my Protestant kinsmen in Northern Ireland come to their senses, will I mention my ancestry. Never again will I wear Orange until peace comes to Northern Ireland.
Dudley Edwards an apologist for bigotry
As I sat in the bustling community centre of Portadown's Garvaghy Road this morning, it was with utter disbelief and frustration that I and many local people read Ruth Dudley Edwards latest diatribe against this besieged and beleagured community.
Writing from the ivory tower of Druncree loyalist encampment overlooking this estate, she obviously views the situation through orange tinted glasses. She demonizes people like Breandán Mac Cionnaith who have become voices of the voiceless in this terrorised estate. In a somersault of logic, she describes her brethren friends as being ``non-sectarian'', ``refusing to yield to intimidation'' and ``facing dangers few in the Republic could dream of''. If she hasn't started to wear a sash then maybe she ought to take a walk a few hundred yards from the media scrum at Drumcree churchyard into the Garvaghy estate which has been under complete siege for over a week now. Then she would know all about ``danger'' and ``intimidation''.
A frightened working class community who have been living on strong coffee and adrenaline for a week or more. A people unable to sleep due to low-flying helicopters, all-night lambeg drumming and fear of neither knowing the day nor the hour when their neighbourhood may experience a military invasion and loyalist assault, as happened in 1996 and 1997. A security ring of steel has turned the estate into one large prison. This morning womenwere prevented from going to work and children due to be sent on a summer project to the US were turned back at the checkpoints.
Food is becoming scarcer in the local shops, people have been prevented from entering the town centre (which for Catholics is a virtual no-go area anyway), and already groups of loyalists have managed to breach the security cordon and have terrorised catholics in Ballyoran at the top of the Garvaghy Road.
Would it be too much to ask of Ms Dudley Edwards and her neo-loyalist friends in the south to lay down their poison pens, come out of their ivory towers and call a permanent ceasefire to their mean spirited campaign against vulnerable nationalist communities? I won't be holding my breath!
Fionntán O Súilleabháin