In response to Senator Mary Henry (Irish Times, 29 March), I will continue to oppose the Orange Order. I do not seek to deny them the right to march in Dublin City. I seek to ensure that the nature of Orangeism is exposed and that confused `liberals' learn the difference between opposing something inherently intolerant, wanting to see its pernicious effects defeated, and allowing it the right to exist.
Senator Henry does the latter (alongside the Labour Lord Mayor, Mary Freehill) while forgetting the importance of the former. To oppose the Orange Order is to defend tolerance because the Orange Order is a byword of intolerance. It is a mark of the deepest intolerance to equate a particular religion with the nature of a state, to proclaim allegiance to a head of state purely on the basis of membership of that religion. It is a further mark of intolerance to invite expulsion from the organisation because of attendance at the funeral mass of a Roman Catholic - as happened to leading Ulster Unionists attending a funeral of two young victims of the Omagh bombing.
Tolerance takes a further beating with the Orange directive to its members to prevent Catholics from dancing or playing games on a Sunday. When the Grand Master of the Orange Order declared that British Prime Minister Tony Blair had betrayed his religion by marrying a Catholic, was that a plea for tolerance? To have to declare on applying to become an Orange `Man' (Senator Henry is right on that one) that not only are you a Protestant but that your wife is one and that your parents are, is that the mark of a tolerant group? To further declare that a convert from Catholicism must attain a 75% approval rating from those practising from birth is to compound the insult to Christian co-religionists.
If we oppose sectarianism by opposing its adherents and effects we should also surely actively demonstrate the difference between tolerant and intolerant actions and ideas. Putting an equal sign between the Orange Order and intolerance is a useful piece of popular education.
At every juncture in the history of the northern state, where adherents of Orangism have been in charge, Catholics have suffered grieviously in every aspect of life and death. To be a Catholic teenager on the Garvaghy Road in Portadown is to never visit the town because you will be physically attacked in the name of Protestant supremacy. Robert Hamill was beaten to death by what may loosely be termed an Orange mob, while the forces of `law and order' watched impassively. To welcome the Orange Order to Dublin is to acquiesce in death, discrimination and destruction, carried out in the name of Protestantism.
In what way will liberals oppose the intolerance espoused by the Orange Order when the latter march in Dublin? In what way will Protestants oppose this organisation's attack on basic Christian precepts? Will the defence of tolerance be left to Sinn Féin? If this march is a spur to the conscience of such people to actively oppose intolerance, then it will have been worthwhile in that respect only. In every other respect it is a glorification of bigotry.
Councillor Nicky Kehoe (Sinn Féin),
Return of Babbling Brooke
In his call on the IRA to decommission, former Six-County Secretary of State Peter Brooke uses the analogy: ``If the person with whom you are having the conversation has got an armalite under his chair... that is not a reasonable democratic process.'' No rational being could argue that point.
However, when under the other chair lies a sectarian police force, hundreds of thousands of weapons, both legally and illegally held, the backing of an occupying army and the Orange veto, that silent armalite seems rather inconsequential.
Reasonable democratic process? Would that not have been implementing the Good Friday Agreement unconditionally as ratified by the voters two years ago?
Máire A Kelly