And so’s your ma…

I’ve never quite understood why John Dallat didn’t run for the leadership of the SDLP. He’s a totally fearless politician who speaks frequently and clearly, and doesn’t mind taking on stronger opponents, whether those be loyalist leaders or unionist politicians. He has been doing his usual outspoken thing about the Knock Golf Club scandal and for his pains has been subjected to a favourite response from some DUP politicians.

I know something of what the SDLP man must be feeling this morning, since I’ve had a little bit of the same thing myself. On a radio programme about six weeks ago, I reminded listeners that the Orange Order, in its history and its constitution, was and is an anti-Catholic organization. The response of my co-interviewee, Rev John Dunlop, was to suggest that to make such a statement was to be sectarian oneself. Get the idea? Charge us with something and we’ll attach a nasty label to you, in the hope that’ll invalidate all you say.

So when John Dallat called for an inquiry into how Planning Servoce approved plans for four hundred new homes on the Knock Golf Club site, the response of environment minister Edwin Poots was to smear the SDLP man: “For Mr Dallat and others to attack my department officials in the way that they have is morally corrupt”. At which point his DUP fellow-member Jonathan Bell called “And sectarian!”

It’s an old tactic and, I’m sad to say, an effective one. The comfort is that it doesn’t work with members of the public who use their heads when they do their thinking. As for those who use another part of their anatomy to form judgements, they’re hardly likely to listen to John Dallat in the first place.

2 Responses to And so’s your ma…

  1. Manchester March 2, 2010 at 12:27 pm #

    You said:
    “On a radio programme about six weeks ago, I reminded listeners that the Orange Order, in its history and its constitution, was and is an anti-Catholic organization.”

    I must respectfully disagree with your viewpoint. The Orange Order has long been criticized as being ‘Anti-Roman Catholic’, therefore (in your view) anyone who belongs to The Reformed Faith must also be ‘Anti-Roman Catholic’ because members of The Reformed Faith denounce the Church of Rome.

    In my view, the problem here lies within members of the Roman Catholic faith ‘traditional view of Protestants’. The Orange Order brings together many denominations of the Reformed Faith from all socio-demographic backgrounds and colours. Our members are good citizens who are striving to make their lives and countries better places to live.

    To simply tar the Orange Order as Anti-Roman Catholic is no longer acceptable and I too agree that it is an out-dated and sectarian view of what The Orange Institution is. We have been verbally attacked, attacked in writing, attacked physically and killed by Roman Catholics for hundreds of years. Its about time the sectarian hatred of the Orange Institution ceases.

  2. Jude Collins March 4, 2010 at 12:41 pm #

    Manchester – thanks for your contribution – I welcome all views, even and maybe especially those I disagree with. For the record, I did not say I believed that anyone of the Reformed Faith must be anti-Catholic – you’ve made an elementary mistake of logic in arguing from my comments on the Orange Order to Protestants in general. You might also want to think about the following quotations, where they come from and whether they suggest anti-Catholic sentiments:

    “No person who at any time has been a Roman Catholic … shall be admitted into the institution, except after permission given by a vote of 75pc of the members present founded on testimonials of good character”

    “An Orange man must strenuously oppose the fatal errors and doctrines of the Church of Rome, and scrupulously avoid countenancing (by his presence or otherwise) any act of ceremony of Popish worship; he should by all lawful means, resist the ascendancy of that Church, its encroachments, and the extension of its power.”