You are here Articles & Speeches Speeches Attacks on Orange Halls

Attacks on Orange Halls

E-mail Print

Assembly Speech - 11th September 2007

Mr Speaker/Deputy Speaker

I was greatly suprised to hear some of Mr O'Dowds comments this morning.  He said that he had learnt more about the Orange Order from a five-minute radio interview than he had at any other time in his life.  He must think that Members on this side of the House are naive.  That statement makes me wonder what sources he uses for his speeches.

The motion reflects an important issue for the Protestant community.  The Orange Order represents that community's cultural identity and embodies Christian principles such as charity and tolerance.  Sinn Fein puts about a myth that the Orange Order comprises bowler-hatted bigots who just want to march down the road.  However, over generations, the Orange order has played a significant role in society, and its members have made important contributions.  Such members include: Dr Thomas Barnardo; William Massey, a former Prime Minister of New Zealand; Harry Ferguson, the inventor of the tractor; and Earl Alexander of Tunis, a First World War general.  Those people represent the calibre of person who underpins the character and ethos of the Orange Order and maintains its principles.

It is sad many Orange Halls have been attacked.  That is not a recent phenomenon; the trend started in, and has accelerated since, the 1960s.  It had one objective; the cultural annilhilation of the Protestant community.  Republicans thought that such aggression against the Orange Order's facilities and halls was the best way to attack Protestantism and Orange culture.  However, that is only because republicans have percieved the Orange Order as being a major part of the British presence in Ulster.  There have been numerous attacks on Orange Halls across Northern Ireland - 260 since 1989.  Approximately 14 halls are burnt every year, which equates to more than one a month.  The Orange Order estimates that 311 of its members who are current or former members of the security forces have been targeted and cruelly murdered because they were Protestants and members of the Orange Institution.

In my own constituency, such attacks have been occurring since the 1960s.  In two instances, attacks were mounted from the grounds of St Matthew's chapel.  However, I am not in any way blaming the priests who were in charge of in the chapel on either of those occasions.  A council colleague of mine, May Campbell, was shot and wounded in one of those attacks.  Those assaults were part of a process of ethnic cleansing that culminated in severe attacks on the small Protestant enclave of Cluan Place on the Albertbridge Road.  Such attacks, and those against Orange Halls, are all part of the same orchestrated campaign of agression.

As sickening and bigoted as the attacks on Orange Order property and the murder of its members are, it is more appalling that a party whose Members sit on the other side of the Chamber glorifies those deedds by naming, and turning into heroes, those who have murdered and attacked the Protestant community.  Indeed, we witnessed that a few weeks ago in Belfast city centre.

If trust is to be built, the Orange Order must recieve a sincere and unequivocal apology not only for the murders of its members but for the attacks on its property.  That type of bigotry must cease.

Site developed by Avec Solutions