We all remember the horror of hearing in 2011 the heart-breaking story of a talented, beautiful young teacher having been brutally murdered in Mauritius whilst on her honeymoon. That young woman was Michaela McAreavey, daughter of Micky Harte. The fact that she was a Catholic never entered our heads. She was one of us and that was enough to grieve for her and her family. That was, until a few days ago, when details of a band at Dundonald Orange Lodge broke its foul stench onto the internet.
The first I was made aware of ‘that’ video, was by chance on Twitter, and unfortunately I was stupid enough to watch it. I sat for some time in the kitchen, wondering had I actually misheard the words of the song drunken louts were singing in a hall. Then, details of the words were published and I sat and cried, not only for the Harte/McAreavey families, but for the disgust I felt for being born a Protestant, for I knew that some would ‘cash in’ (not literally) on the premise that ‘all prods were sectarian bastards and of course, this kind of rabble are indicative of the PUL community.' And then, there it was, including the trolls who have nothing better to do all day other than abuse anything Protestant or British.
These idiots in the video, thankfully, have been now put under investigation for what I can only describe as one of the worst cases of vile, sectarian behaviour I’ve had the misfortune to witness. But, apart from wondering how the heck a human can sit down and make up such grossly offensive words to a song about another beautiful human purely based on her religion, it then struck me as the condemnation poured in from the Orange Order and others, that this has been going on in band halls and Orange Halls for years. This, hopefully would be the time whereby the Orange Order had a prime opportunity to get their house in order.
With the unprecedented revulsion from every community now being on the world's stage, I’m hoping that the Orange Order can put robust measures in place to eradicate this type of sectarianism within its ranks. Some have been calling for it for decades, and with every song, every drunken action by either bandsmen or members of the OO, it has been (quite rightly) fueling the gap between the two communities.
For the loyalists who cry ‘our culture has to be acknowledged and protected’ I say – you’ve just lost your battle if nothing changes.
The only way that you can have any credence in that argument is if both members of bands and OO members are now held to account by strict sanctions if found to be in breach of a code of conduct. And nothing short of booting out will suffice!
It came as no surprise to me that I learned that the vermin in the video hadn’t even marched! This show of drunken loutish behaviour occurred even before what was to be a celebration of the Platinum Jubilee. A family day of celebration I might add. Then again, some would say the 12th celebrations are that as well. Perhaps in the rural areas, but never in the city.
The Orange Order should now dump any band who is drunk prior to a march – even should it be one member. When bands are prohibited from marching they’ll soon get the message. However, the leaders of the Orange Order have to implement and enforce these rigidly, otherwise - like spoilt kids of parents who always back down and give them their way - the sectarianism will just carry on. Now is the time for a turn in PUL actions which give CRN communities the ammunition to call for their demise. But even whilst typing this, I reflect that some within the PUL haven’t really had their heads screwed on for years!!
If you want your culture to be respected, start having respect for yourselves! You can’t complain about eradication of culture, when that culture breeds the kind of vile sectarianism we as a nation witnessed last week. Get the act sorted:
- have events people of all ages, classes and religion can attend without the trappings of drunks, foul imbeciles
- have a zero alcohol tolerance for participants and ‘hangers on’, and by all means get snattered at the end of the parade/event if that’s your thing.