Category: Archive

Editorial The killing of children

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

No battles are ever fought without the loss of blood. But in Northern Ireland, it is usually the blood of innocents that is shed.

A grim and tragic example of this occurred last weekend in Ballymoney, where the three young Quinn brothers perished in the flames of loyalist bigotry as a firebomb consumed their home.

The media was reporting that their deaths stunned Northern Ireland. But Northern Ireland should not have been stunned when every night for the last seven days, loyalist bigots were hurling petrol bombs into Catholic homes and businesses. Something like the tragedy that struck Ballymoney was bound to happen sooner or later. According to statistics published in the Irish Times newspaper, at least 130 Catholic homes in predominantly Protestant housing estates were fire bombed over a period of seven days.

This is no idle campaign, done on the spur of the moment, but a concerted effort by evil bigots to drive Catholics out of Protestant districts in counties Antrim and Down. Fourteen Catholic families in one area alone, around Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim, were forced from their homes. The town’s Catholic population continues to dwindle, thanks to a campaign of terror and intimidation. This was going on while the world’s media was focused on the Orangemen’s standoff at Drumcree. And it continues, even in the wake of the Ballymoney murders, with attacks on Catholic homes the day after the Quinn brothers died.

Of course, what happened at Drumcree and what happened at Ballymoney are far from being unconnected. The Drumcree Orangemen created so much sectarian tension that it could only discharge itself in one way – through blatant attacks on isolated, vulnerable Catholics. This has always been the loyalists’ response when their will is thwarted. They take their anger out on innocent Catholics, though in their warped vision no Catholic is ever innocent. Whatever the standing of individual Orangemen, most of whom are doubtless good-living, decent people, the culture of Orangism is imbued with sectarianism, triumphalism and militaristic bombast. The drunken louts who stagger alongside the Orange marches mouthing obscenities are the real face of Orangism. It is the culture of the soccer hooligan mixed with the politics of fascism.

Alarmed by what they see taking place in an area that is nominally part of the United Kingdom, some in the English media are warning that the events over the last few days in Ballymoney, Belfast and Drumcree, could be the beginning of the end of Britain’s commitment to Northern Ireland. Why should the British tax payer continue to financially support a state in which thugs can hold entire communities to ransom and defy the very government that keeps them from disappearing down the economic drainpipe?

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The Orange Order and their hangers on must learn this simple principle about being part of a democratic state: It is that rights come with obligations, privileges with responsibilities.

In the wake of the Quinn brothers’ tragedy it is becoming clear that the Orange Order and the intransigents who tried to use the Drumcree situation to undermine the Belfast Agreement have suffered a resounding defeat.

Over 30 years ago, in Selma, Ala., three young children, all black, were sacrificed on the altar of racial bigotry, in an act that revolted the world and helped spur the civil rights movement to achieve its goals. The deaths of the Quinn brothers might well have the same effect, by starkly demonstrating that the cost of hatred, the price of intransigence, is always too high and that the innocent always pay it. The only alternative is compromise and accommodation.

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