Thursday, August 28, 2008

Grand secretary welcomes cardinal's comments on Orange Order

COMMENTS MADE about the Orange Order by the Catholic primate Cardinal Seán Brady at the Humbert Summer School have been warmly welcomed by its grand secretary Drew Nelson.

Addressing the parades issue in the North, Cardinal Brady said "the Orange Order deserves credit for what I believe are sincere and convincing efforts to promote dialogue and understanding. These should be acknowledged and reciprocated".

In a speech last Sunday, he also said that "attacks on Orange halls, such as those which took place last week around Armagh, deserve to be unequivocally condemned. They are symptomatic of a sectarian pathology which is evil and has to be continually challenged in ourselves and every aspect of social, religious and political life".

Speaking to The Irish Times yesterday, Mr Nelson said: "To me as grand secretary it is deeply rewarding to hear from the cardinal that he accepts our bona fides."

He continued: "To me, in terms of community relations in Northern Ireland, it is a useful building block which can be built on" where parades were concerned.

He said the order "at all levels" was trying to develop parades that were much more family-friendly and "to create a situation whereby those who did not traditionally go to see our parades would do so."

About three years ago the order had decided to engage with people with whom they did not traditionally engage, "to try to convince groups that we were genuine in our attempts to seek a long-term solution to the parades issue", he said.

He also welcomed Cardinal Brady's "clear and unequivocal condemnation of attacks on Orange halls and I would like it to be equally clear that I condemn attacks on Roman Catholic buildings".

He said "attacks on Orange halls and other buildings representing one or other community would be widely regarded as attacks on the whole community".

However, he made it clear he did not regard all attacks on Orange halls as sectarian. Frequently they were "mindless vandalism, though sometimes they were planned". He "warmly welcomed" the cardinal's call, in the same address, on the Omagh bombers to give themselves up.

Cardinal Brady appealed to the bombers "before the innocent children, women and men you massacred . . . to do the right thing before God. I appeal to your hearts and human dignity. Give yourselves up to justice in this world before you face judgement in the next". He also said people with relevant information "have a duty before God to give that information immediately to the police".

Mr Nelson said two of the Omagh bomb victims, Fred White and his son Brian, had been members of an Orange lodge near Omagh. "The family have never got over it . . . The fact that there has been no conviction in connection with the bombing is only prolonging their agony," he said.
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(Source: IT)

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