We Say
The President’s words

The furore over the comments made by President Mary McAleese has died down after the Orange Order and the DUP said that they accepted her apology. Pointedly though, they also said that they don’t envision any meetings with the President in the foreseeable future.

The President said that her remarks were “clumsy”, and perhaps they were – and in that context an apology was probably in order. But it is a bit rich for the opposition to the remarks to be led by the Orange Order and the DUP – two institutions that are the very embodiment of the point that the President was trying to make.

Before it slates the President for her remarks, the Orange Order would do well to get its own house in order. It is a byword for intolerance and division and a trawl through the archives will quickly illustrate the centrality of the Orange Order to much of the violent hatred that has scarred this country for hundreds of years. If it were just an historical footnote that would be bad enough, but the Orange Order continues to be a reactionary and divisive force to this very day. The next marching season will no doubt prove that in spades yet again.

And as for the DUP, well where do you start? The leader and founder of that party, Ian Paisley, made his name by uttering contemptible and inflammatory words at street corners and from the pulpit. The statements he has made about the Catholic Church and about the Pope angered and incensed Catholic people in Ireland – and beyond.

Rather than point fingers at the President, those members of the DUP who got on their high horse when this controversy erupted last week might be better advised to ask their leader whether he doesn’t think it a good idea to apologise for his baleful oratory.

An apology from the President was magnanimous and helpful – one from Ian Paisley is inconceivable.

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