Republican News · Thursday 29 June 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Stand up, Mr Trimble

The behaviour of the Orange Order in recent days has shown it to be an unsightly relic of the past.

Parades Commission restrictions were provocatively flouted in West Belfast, as loudspeakers blared loyalist marching tunes along the Springfield Road and loyalist paramilitaries swaggered in uniform. Restrictions were also openly flouted in Bellaghy and loyalist bands thundered away until midnight in the nationalist village of Keady.

The Parades Commission had no choice but to ban Portadown Orangemen from the Garvaghy Road on 2 June, given the unwillingness of the Orange Order to engage in any sort of meaningful negotiations with residents. Anything less than a similar decision for the 9 July coat-trailing application would be inexplicable and unconscionable.

Such decisions are phyrric victories, however, for the besieged nationalist residents of Portadown. The sectarian displays that blanket the town centre cannot be missed. Nationalists living on the Garvaghy Road, likely to face heightened intimidation and tensions for the days, and possibly weeks ahead, will afterwards receive no respite. Their's is a year-long ordeal in the town where Robert Hamill was kicked to death as the supposed defenders of law and order, the RUC, blithely looked on.

This year's marching season threatens to be a bad one for nationalists, as the loyalist paramilitaries are involved in a power struggle and the Orange Order appears even more intransigent than ever (if such a thing were possible).

Surely this is the time for those with an interest in the peace process to speak out to calm sectarian tensions within the unionist/loyalist community.

David Trimble played his part in fanning the sectarian flames when he connived with loyalist death squad leader Billy Wright in 1996 on Drumcree Hill.

Now he is First Minister, a Nobel prizewinner with a duty to all the people of the Six Counties, including those of his constituents whose plight he exploited in 1995 to secure the Ulster Unionist Party leadership.

It's time to stand up, Mr Trimble.

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