Orangeman is BNP candidate

The Protestant Orange Order has refused to disassociate itself from a leading member who is due to stand in the Westminster election as a candidate for the racist British National Party.

Nick Blake, a district master of the Orange Order, has been selected to stand for election for the BNP in Devon in southwestern England.

Earlier this month it emerged that BNP leader Nick Griffin’s daughter Jennifer had moved to County Down to promote the party in Ireland.

A Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland spokesman refused to comment on Mr Blake, while English grand master Ron Bather refused to condemn or condone the BNP candidate’s political views.

“We’re not dlctators,” he said.

“As an institution we try not to interfere with the political views of any of our members.”

Anna Lo of the Alliance party and a member of the Chinese community in the north of Ireland said the order’s failure to disassociate itself from Blake’s candidature sent out .a very disturbing message to people in the ethnic minority communities in Northern Ireland.”

The Orange Order, which sometimes denies that it is anti-Catholic, also caused controversy at the weekend when it call on its members to publicly protest against a visit of the Pope to Britain.

The organisation is to mount demonstrations against the four-day papal visit to England and Scotland in September.

“For sometime now the Orange Order have been bogusly claiming to be a non-threatening cultural club. They have been claiming public monies to promote their activities as open to all,” Sinn Fein assembly member Daithi McKay said.

“However the reality is they are an anti-Catholic organisation. This statement calling for protests against the papal visit to Britain confirms this.

“They are now firmly in the camp of the British far right in organising opposition to this visit. The mask has clearly slipped and the recent public relations efforts of the Order now lie in tatters.

“At a time when politicians and others are trying to put together a better way of dealing with contentious Orange parades this statement is extremely unhelpful.

“The Orange Order must recognise that this sort of sectarian intervention will inflame tensions especially as we head into the marching season. Given this reality many people will be rightly questioning the motivation behind this statement at this time.”

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