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Orangeism - making triumphalist sectarianism respectable

category national | rights, freedoms and repression | news report author Monday February 27, 2006 12:08author by James Reilly Report this post to the editors

Protest should be peaceful - and therefore effective

Information on the sectarian motives and background of the Orange Order and of supporters of Willie Frazer's FAIR needs to be put into the public domain. The character of last Saturday's violent protest against the Orange march makes that task more difficult. However, the criticism must be pursued in the interests of real tolerance and pluralism. It shoud be done openly and peacefully, and therefore effectively.

[In relation the (London) Independent picture caption:
The five nationalists were massacred in Grahams bookies shop on the Ormeau Road – it is one reason why the community rose up and determined that the Orange Order would not march down the Ormeau Road again, without the Orange order first meeting the residents of that road. The Orange order have refused consistently to meet them, as they have also consistently refused to meet the spokespersons of the Garvaghy Road residents in Portadown.]
From The Independent 11 July 1997. Caption: “Triumphalism: Ormeau Road 1992, an Orangeman holds up five fingers as a parade passes a spot where five Catholics were shot dead by loyalist terrorists.”
From The Independent 11 July 1997. Caption: “Triumphalism: Ormeau Road 1992, an Orangeman holds up five fingers as a parade passes a spot where five Catholics were shot dead by loyalist terrorists.”

WILLIE FRAZER
A main organiser of Saturday's 'Love Ulster', march was Willie Frazer who runs Families Acting for Innocent Victims (FAIR).

One of those Frazer and FAIR claim as a victim is Robert McConnell of the UDR (a regiment of the British Army) and the UVF (a unionist paramilitary organisations) who was involved in the killing of the Catholic Reavey brothers the day prior to the Kingsmill Massacre of 10 Protestants in 1975. McConnell had a long sectarian history outlined below.

Frazer's web site includes reference to a speech made by Ian Paisley in which Paisley said under parliamentary privilege that Eugene Reavey, another brother of the dead Reaveys, was responsible for the Kingsmill massacre. This is a lie that Frazer and Paisley refuse to either apologise for or to delete from their sites.

In the Belfast Telegraph January 4 2006 it was reported

“The attack on the brothers in their home at Whitecross, Co Armagh, on January 4, 1976 and the simultaneous murder of three members of the O'Dowd family near Gilford, Co Down are believed to have led the IRA - then officially on ceasefire - to massacre 10 Protestant workmen at Kingsmills, Co Armagh the next evening.

The attacks started the second worst annual death toll in the Troubles, with another 290 people dying before 1976 was finished.

No one has been convicted for any of the three attacks.

The 24-hour spasm of violence began with the attack on the Reavey home. Two of the brothers, John and Brian, died immediately. Their 17-year-old brother Anthony died three weeks later.

A Luger pistol and a 9mm sub-machinegun used in the murders were matched by ballistic traces to a gun and bomb attack on the Rock Bar, outside Keady, which took place five months later. One man was wounded in that attack when the bomb failed to explode.

Three police officers were convicted in 1980 for the Rock Bar attack. One - who was already serving a life sentence for sectarian murder - was given a jail sentence while the other two were given suspended sentences.

A fourth policeman was convicted of withholding information and also received a suspended sentence.

The judge who passed sentence, the then Lord Chief Justice Lord Lowry, said "powerful motives" had pushed the officers, including "the feeling that more than ordinary police work was needed and justified to rid the land of the pestilence which has been in existence".

The RUC did not reveal the ballistic link between the Reavey murders and the Rock Bar attack for almost 25 years.

William McCaughey, the constable jailed for the Rock Bar attack, said it was "perfectly natural" for loyalists to be in the UVF and the RUC.”

As Susan McKay [put it in the Irish Times last Saturday:

“Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (Fair) is to hold a rally in Dublin today to draw attention to the suffering of the victims of terrorism. However, this is an organisation which has effectively branded an innocent Catholic man the mass murderer of his Protestant neighbours, causing him intense anguish and, inevitably, putting his life at risk.”

……

Fair and the DUP insist the war is not over and that the enemy can still be defeated. A previous effort led by Drumcree stalwarts to rally Protestants around a new Ulster covenant was launched in Ballymena in 2001 with calls from one speaker for "B52 bombers over Dublin".

Willie Frazer is a hurt man. The IRA murdered his father and four of his relations. Michelle Williamson, whose parents were killed in the Shankill bomb, expressed the intensity of this pain when she said of the surviving bomber, Seán Kelly: "You are like a disease in my bones, and the only cure is justice. To say I hate you doesn't begin to describe how I feel."

……

Fair, Frazer admitted to a House of Commons select committee hearing last year, is controversial. "We are seen as the bad boys within the victims sector," he said.

This is largely because of its aggressive insistence that there are "innocent" and "genuine" and "real" victims, and there are others who have no right to call themselves victims at all.

According to Fair and the DUP, Eugene Reavey is in the latter category. It is an appalling lie.”

BILLY WRIGHT
Frazer said of the notorious unionist paramilitary and sectarian killer, Billy Wright: “I have a lot of time for Billy Wright”, because he “called a spade a spade”. Presumably Wright called a taig a Fenian and vice versa, before he shot them.

At a protest against the release of republican prisoners under the Good Friday Agreement, Willie was asked about the release of loyalist unionist prisoners. Frazier said, “They should never have been locked up in the first place”. Frazier believes that the unionist paramilitaries were a necessary part of the ‘war’ against the IRA – which included hundreds of blatantly sectarian murders.

PEACEFUL PROTEST NEEDED
I don’t support the protest that took place last Saturday - the violence was counteproductive. I do support the possibility of criticism of these sectarian Orangemen. It should be done openly and peacefully – because that is far more effective.

author by Mr Angrypublication date Mon Feb 27, 2006 13:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

While I pretty much agree with your negative position on Orangeism, and indeed FAIR, the greatest contribution to making the sectaranism of the orange order respectable is the violence that ocurred last Saturday. In one fell swoop, the appetite for a united Ireland in the republic has diminished and the resistence to it in Northern Ireland has increased. A big sarcastic well done to those who try to mask soccer-style violence with some sort of faux-political veneer.

author by Ali H.publication date Mon Feb 27, 2006 13:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What a load of rubbish. A few bricks and a bit of damage caused and all of a sudden the republican cause is completely undermined. Nothing of the sort. The republican cause has been systematically undermined since the inception of the free state in order to maintain the FF/FG/Labour hegemony in the Republic by those in office and in opposition with the aid of a subjugate press and their financial masters.

This sort of thing happens for months on end every year when loyalist thugs go on the rampage in the North. Of course then there are no such remarks about loyalists setting back reconcilliation. Of course they are completely in the right just doing what they have always done marching down their "traditional" routes displaying their "culture" to all of us (typically provoking republicans and attempting to rub their noses in it). Their behaviour although it has more in common with the KKK is of course completely PC and acceptable.

It is time for FF/FG/Labour to start actually doing something in the north to improve matters for nationalists rather than simply backing the Paisleyite status quo otherwise what we saw in Bublin at the weekend will be a taster for worse things to come. Don't forget that we in the South have a lot more to lose than those in the North.

author by James Reillypublication date Mon Feb 27, 2006 14:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Of course the struggle for a United Ireland is not undermined by the riot on Saturday. But what Ali H misses is something he refers to but does not think about, “the FF/FG/Labour hegemony”. If they have “hegemony” over the consciousness of the population it means that their disguised partitionist politics has an inbuilt advantage. The riot gives them a greater advantage since the real politics of orangeism and unionism becomes obscured by the reactionary “noise” brought about by the directionless riot.

The vast mass of the population is not alienated from a state that they see as an expression of the fight to free Ireland from British control. The establishment politicians use that consciousness to try to create an exclusively 26 County identity and to make people afraid of becoming actively interested in the sectarianism that is the basis of the northern state.

That is why the riot was self-defeating – it fed into that establishment project. The absence of a police presence on Saturday (of the type seen on other occasions) is either the result of total incompetence from a police point of view, or else it was a cynical ploy in the Garda management dispute between the Gardai and Michael McDowell - or else it was a cynical ploy trying to produce the political effect created (seems far fetched, but stranger things have happened).

author by Ali H.publication date Mon Feb 27, 2006 14:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I'd agree with you that the only people who will gain any advantage from the riot are FF/PD/FG/Labour and orange obstructionists, after they are the ones who have everything to lose in the context of all-Ireland politics. I think you may well be right in suggesting that this riot was allowed to happen with that specific political agenda in mind. Alternately they may we casting around for somebody else to blame for their spectacularly crass negligence. In any case their behaviour is entirely in character with theTour de France back-peddling they've engaged in ever since the Good Friday agreement.

author by roosterpublication date Mon Feb 27, 2006 21:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Good point by Ali H. Mon Feb 27, 2006 13:45
I'd agree with you that the only people who will gain any advantage from the riot are FF/PD/FG/Labour and orange obstructionists, after they are the ones who have everything to lose in the context of all-Ireland politics. I think you may well be right in suggesting that this riot was allowed to happen with that specific political agenda in mind. Alternately they may we casting around for somebody else to blame for their spectacularly crass negligence. In any case their behaviour is entirely in character with theTour de France back-peddling they've engaged in ever since the Good Friday agreement"

the parade did not go ahead, it was called off, so how come the violent scenes we witnessed went ahead?

author by John Meehanpublication date Tue Feb 28, 2006 01:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The points made by James are very good.

Every media organisation should be reminded of Ian Paisley's sick attempt to link Eugene Reavey with the Kingsmill atrocity, and Willie Frazer/FAIR's complicity in this sectarian bigotry.

An obvious question arises : why endorse a political process which could result in a far-right bigot like Paisley becoming first minister of Northern Ireland?

The Good Friday Agreement is a mechanism for institutionalising coalition with extremist right wing political parties, and deepening the roots of sectarianism.

There is a major contradiction between opposing Orangeism in the manner suggested by James, and going along with the GFA.

Criticising the rioters' tactics is fine, it is also necessary to recognise they were making a reasonable political point about the reactionary nature of the FAIR march.

And we should avoid falling in with the black propaganda of the Irish Independent and its ruling class allies - why have any confidence in the Gardaí? Don't we know enough about them? For example : the Donegal frame-ups, their behaviour during the May Day attacks on reclaim the streets protestors a few years ago (Wasn't the state's failure to secure a single successful prosecution of a policeman over that riot remarkable? Could the same thing happen over the riots last Saturday?).

Looking at things in this way, why has Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe urged people to report Saturday's rioters to the Gardaí? The context is very clear - SF is a party that is willing to enter a coalition with the right after the next general election.

In 1981 Seán marched on the British Embassy with many thousand supporrters of the hunger-striking political prisoners in Long Kesh and Armagh. The demonstration never got to the embassy - a number of marchers were convicted for rioting, many people got a severe beating from the police.

You can be sure the Seán Crowe of those days had a different political outlook on such matters.

author by James Reillypublication date Tue Feb 28, 2006 12:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I would like to respond to some of the points made by John Meehan. It is a fair point that no one should get sucked into pinpointing targets for prosecution. If anyone is doing it they should stop. It is wrong.

However I take issue with this:
“Criticising the rioters' tactics is fine, it is also necessary to recognise they were making a reasonable political point about the reactionary nature of the FAIR march.”

First of all I do not know what riot “tactic” would have been effective last Saturday. I suspect none. The rioters were not making “a reasonable political point”. Or at least, and it amounts to the same thing politically, they were seen to make it unreasonably, to the extent that they obscured the reactionary nature of the march by acting as they did.

It would have been far more astute politically (admittedly this is hindsight) for relatives of British violence and collusion to ask publicly to join the marchers to have a parade in remembrance of all victims of the conflict – and without the sectarian paraphernalia. It would have posed the question, why have a sectarian parade that elevates some victims of the conflict as being more “worthy” than others. A refusal on the part of the unionist and orange organisers would have opened out the discussion on the sectarian exclusivity of the paraders. The sectarian organizers could rise to the challenge or, as seems more likely with unionists, they would probably wish to preserve sectarian apartheid even in death.

I also take issue with this:
“The Good Friday Agreement is a mechanism for institutionalising coalition with extremist right wing political parties, and deepening the roots of sectarianism.

There is a major contradiction between opposing Orangeism in the manner suggested by James, and going along with the GFA.”

The nature of the GFA is not for the purpose of “institutionalising coalition”, the term implies something voluntary. It puts the sectarian nature of the northern state up front by recognizing that the political majority cannot be allowed the right to rule – because it is a sectarian majority. The normal criteria of politics are turned on their head. The minority population has gained the right to rule alongside unionists. Because unionism is fundamentally sectarian, it is fighting that possibility with every weapon in its armory (which includes reactionary politicians down south, the securocracy, and the British establishment). If “a far-right bigot like Paisley becoming first minister of Northern Ireland” was a project that suited far right bigots they would be the first to sign up for it. In fact they oppose it consistently, because the outworking of the agreement will destroy the sectarian exclusivity and trumphalism of unionism. Or at least it would do if Paisley and his followers had even less choice in the matter and were forced to become part of an Executive. Far from “deepening the roots of sectarianism” the agreement exposes sectarianism to the harsh light of political reality. That is why unionism’s project is to destroy it. Or are you on the same side as unionism on this? The call to reform the Executive is to vindicate the rights of nationalists, the permanent victims of the setting up and running of the sectarian state of Northern Ireland.

If you see politics with regard to the North exclusively in the framework Sinn Fein’s support for the GFA and your opposition to it, there is a danger in ending up looking like a left wing version of the Sunday Independent: no matter what happens Sinn Fein is to blame. For instance, for every story about spooks running Sinn Fein in the right wing press, there is another smart-ass one among nominally left-wing commentators. It is for the most part garbage that blames the victim for the crime.

In the aftermath of the riot last Saturday the tabloid and O’Reilly press have raised the Sinn Fein specter. Jeffrey Donaldson was the first into the frame with his obliging garda “sources” – they told him Sinn Fein did it. On the Pat Kenny programme yesterday morning Kenny’s sole enquiry of Sean Crowe was a string of questions about ‘what if’ Sinn Fein members had been present, what would be done to them, etc, etc. It was like a ‘when have you stopped beating your wife’ question to someone who wasn’t married.

You have raised the Sinn Fein specter as well. I wrote about the sectarian nature of the paraders and you said that that exposure was necessary. Then you went into a lengthy commentary on Sinn Fein and the GFA being responsible. You should practice what you first preached. Expose the sectarian nature of the parade and leave the other points to another forum. I will if you will.

If the sectarian paraders decide to come to Dublin again and I see no reason why they should not - let us not go all-hysterical about this - there should be a careful and considered response, not the sheer apolitical mayhem that arose last Saturday.

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