The anti-Catholic Orange Order has been linked to a company founded to prevent “property falling into nationalist hands”.
The motto of the controversial Ulster Land & Property Company (ULPC) is “Ulster is being sold, help us buy it”.
It has been accused of working to prevent Catholics acquiring land.
According to a ULPC document, it plans to buy some ten million Euros worth of property by 2005.
A letter written by Orange Order Grand Master Robert Saulters contradicts the order’s denial that it is linked to the ULPC.
In the letter dated February 4 2002, but which emerged this week, Mr Saulters wrote to Orangemen, urging financial support for the company, and stressing the importance of the issue.
Commenting after the revelation, Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew said:
“ The Orange Order like to portray themselves as a religious and cultural organisation. This property scam is based on raw sectarian hatred. Its motivation is to prevent Catholics and nationalists purchasing homes or land. It gives a lie to the repeated claims that the Orange Order is a cultural marching organisation.”
Ms Gildernew said that elected unionist representatives had been proven to be involved in this operation.
“Property across the Six Counties and indeed into Donegal have been targeted by this company.
“Next summer when we hear the familiar lie from the unionists and the Orange Order about their cultural and religious objectives as they coat-trail through Catholic areas, nationalists will remember well this very sinister Orange Order operation.
“ I look forward to hearing comments on this operation from UUP leader David Trimble and the Orange Order Chief Robert Saulters.”
ORANGE PSNI REMAIN
Meanwhile, PSNI police Chief Constable Hugh Orde has halted a move to force all PSNI members to declare membership of secret organisations such as the Orange Order.
No reason was given for the move, which means that police associations with a list of bodies, including the Apprentice Boys and the Orange Order, will remain secret.
Efforts to loosen the grip of Protestant organisations on the police force in the North were a key part of the reforms of the Patten report, set up under the Good Friday Agreement but still largely unimplemented.
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Policing, Gerry Kelly, said:
“People are rightly asking the question what have these PSNI members to hide. Why are they so desperate to conceal their membership of secret societies from public view? Which secret societies are involved?
“ It is clear that there is a cadre of old RUC and Special Branch operating to an anti-Patten agenda within the heart of the PSNI. This case is just the public manifestation of that and therefore comes as no surprise.”