22 July 1999 Edition
Supremacists rewarded for efforts
BY FERN LANE
Last week, President Clinton thanked the Ku Klux Klan for having refrained from the lynching of black people over the past number of weeks and for agreeing to not burn down any more churches until later in the year. The President conceded that whilst there were still cross-burning and constant harassment of people of colour, such activities are no more than a harmless and colourful expression of traditional white culture and the Klan were to be commended for their restraint.
Indeed, the Klan's annual Alabama Cross-Burners' Fair, which every year celebrates both the bringing of the first slaves to the American continent and the extermination of Native Americans by European colonists, is considered by many to be something of a carnival, a family day out, replete with spectacle and music. As well as the Best Bible Thumper competition there is a prize for the longest Why Blacks Are Inferior To Us sermon. The pictures in the newspapers show dimpled children in dinky little Klan robes and benign old men in pointy white hats, eating ice cream and jigging along to traditional lynching songs. In fact, years ago, before they started getting bolshy, the local black folks used to come to have a look at the fair. They weren't allowed to participate, of course, and if they got within range they got their heads broken, but they didn't mind. So there are always a few nutters brandishing guns and swastika tattoos, but they are an unrepresentative minority outside the control of the Klan. And anyway they have licences for the guns.
OK, I made it all up. But if it had happened, and been allowed to happen, imagine for a moment the odium which would have been heaped upon the U.S. government. The national media, too, would doubtless have been condemned around the world as having lost it's collective senses for turning into apologists for a fascist organisation.
Why, then, was an event analogous in many ways to the outrageous scenario above allowed to happen last week in Britain, when Mo Mowlam in the House of Commons was effusive, on behalf of the government, in her gratitude to the Orange Order for having not orchestrated the reduction of the North of Ireland into a state of chaos over its 12 July celebrations and for its success in dissuading its paramilitary wing from the customary practice of slaughtering Catholics at random. Whilst she was at it, she may as well have thanked the neo-Nazis responsible for the bombing of the Lord Admiral pub for not attempting to murder homosexuals lately.
It is also baffling that those in the media who praised the Orange Order for its ``restraint'' and ``dignity'' - and there were plenty of them - have done exactly what they would have been open-mouthed with horror at had it occurred elsewhere. What, exactly, is ``dignified'' about an organisation dedicated to maintaining by any means - including violence if necessary - a white, male, anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic cultural and economic supremacy, and where else would it be tolerated in this way? The government of the United Kingdom - fountain of all democratic and liberal values so we're constantly told - not only tolerates the Order and its ideology, but positively indulges it, treating it as though its sectarian policies and practices were a perfectly reasonable and legitimate expression of ethnic identity. Comparisons of the Orange Order with the Klu Klux Klan may be somewhat hackneyed, but such comparisons are neither frivolous nor inaccurate
And, finally, somebody ought to point out to those in the Northern Ireland Office, since they seem to have been unable to work it out for themselves, that the lower level of public disorder surrounding Drumcree and the Twelfth this year merely represents a change of tactic on the part of the Orange Order, not a change of heart. It is intractably convinced of its absolute `right' to march wherever it wants to assert unionist supremacy over the nationalist population. It is simply biding its time.
Crumlin Resident attacked by Orangemen
By Roisin Cox
Drunken Orangemen left a resident of the mainly nationalist Crumlin village in County Antrim with facial and eye injuries last week when he tried to stop them abusing a group of Catholic teenagers.
The incident happened on Saturday,17 July, as the local man (who does not want to be named) was returning home from Belfast with his family. He saw the incident developing and stopped his car, intending to calm the situation. But when he opened his car door he was kicked in the face by ``a well-known loyalist thug, who dragged me to the ground and continued the attack''.
The gang then turned on the man's wife and son. They were assaulted as the loyalists attempted to wreck the car.
According to the man, this was the third incident of its kind to occur in Crumlin that day, all carried out by the same gang.
Earlier, two other people were attacked by the loyalists ``who appeared to have the freedom to roam at will'', according to Sinn Féin's Martin Meehan, Sinn Féin representative for South Antrim. ``In the face of this blatant sectarian assault, I would appeal for nationalist residents to be calm and not respond to this vicious hatred.''
He called for nationalists to ``act in a proactive and dignified way and stand shoulder to shoulder on this issue''.
The attacks come in light of rising tension in Crumlin. Recent weeks have seen an increase of intimidation against nationalists in the town.
Orangemen try to march down Garvaghy Road
By Róisín Cox
Last weekend - four days after the removal of the huge security barriers and miles of razor wire used to cordon off the nationalist Garvaghy Road area of Portadown and to block Orangemen at Drumcree - the Orange Order tried to march down the Garvaghy Road.
Hundreds of Orangemen staged the attempt after attending `morning worship' at Drumcree Parish Church on Sunday 18 July.
The Parades Commission ban on the Orange Order's Garvaghy Road route had to be implemented by the RUC.
Portadown Orange Order spokesperson David Jones threatened to increase the temperature with a series of ``major'' Orange parades and rallies in various counties in the coming weeks.
``The Orange protest over the Drumcree impasse will continue.''
RUC restrict residents' protest
By Roisin Cox
Orange Order marches will not be allowed through the Fermanagh village of Newtownbutler's nationalist Main Street unless there are direct talks with residents.
The statement came from a spokesperson for the Newtownbutler Area Residents' Association (NARA) after the RUC restricted residents' protests planned for 11 July against two Orange Twelfth parades through the village. The protest was planned for the town's Main Street, which is on the parade route and which houses many nationalist residents.
NARA spokesperson Thomas O'Reilly is angry that the RUC had unilaterally restricted the residents' protests even though the Parades Commission had given them the go-ahead.
The RUC restricted the NARA protest to 50 people and banned any posters or banners with anti-parade slogans, thus defeating the purpose of the protest.
``This is a further attempt by the RUC to appease the Orange Order on the parades issue,'' O'Reilly said. ``Their restrictions on the protest are another method of trying to get the procession down the street for the Orange Order.''
The residents are also angry that the Parades Commission has snubbed the people of Newtownbutler and retracted its assurance, made in August 1998, that no further parades would be allowed in the town without direct dialogue between NARA and Orangemen.
Despite repeated attempts by the residents to initiate dialogue, the Orange Order have refused to participate in talks, saying that they would not engage in dialogue with people who have known connections with ``Sinn Féin or the IRA''.
O'Reilly told An Phoblacht that residents had abandoned a protest planned for the morning of the Twelfth as a show of goodwill, ``but this has not been reciprocated by either the Orange Order or the Parades Commission''.
Hayes wants Ormeau cleanup bill
South Belfast Sinn Féin Councillor Seán Hayes is demanding that the cost of cleaning up the Ormeau Park after the Orange Twelfth parade be published.
Hayes said: ``The ratepayers of Belfast have a right to know how much of their money was spent in returning the Ormeau Park to its original state after the Orange march. The fact that the Ormeau Park is a public amenity and owned by the council for the people of the city makes it different from the traditional site of Edenderry.
``I am asking the council to publish details of the cost of the cleanup operation in the Ormeau Park and indeed also on the route of the march. I was contacted by a number of people concerned at the levels of rubbish thrown in the Shaftsbury Square area in particular during the Twelfth''.
``It must be remembered that the Ormeau Park was used by the Orange Order without seeking the permission of the Council, yet it expects the same council to pick up the tab for cleaning up after them.''