By Ray O’Hanlon
The Boston Globe has drawn a comparison between the Orange Order and the Ku Klux Klan.
In an editorial prompted by the murder of a Portadown woman, Elizabeth O’Neill, the Globe stated that one British politician had compared Portadown to towns in Mississippi during the 1950s, where surface calm concealed racial oppression.
"If that is the case, the Orange Order is analogous to the White Citizens Council, and the thugs who threw a bomb into the O’Neill home are the Ku Klux Klan," the editorial stated.
The editorial added that the Orange Order was "ostensibly the respectable defender of the established order, which in Protestant Portadown means Protestant unionist domination over nationalist Catholics.
"To symbolize that power, the order insists on marching down the Garvaghy Road one Sunday in July, even though that parade is an affront to Catholics living there."
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The editorial continued: "It might have been better had the British government allowed a march last year, but after the order refused to negotiate the authorities said ‘no.’ Recurrent violence followed, culminating in the murder of O’Neill, a Protestant married to a Catholic. . . . A British mediator put forward a reasonable plan to let the Garvaghy march go forward this year, then changed the route so that it ended at an Orange heritage center, yet to be built. The residents would consider this, but not the order."
The editorial also drew a comparison between the Order and the IRA. Both were intent on retaining their prerogatives, it said. The Order would not accept the common-sense notion that for peace to succeed in Northern Ireland, both sides must give ground.
The editorial concluded by stating that to honor the memory of Elizabeth O’Neill, the Orange Order should cancel this year’s march.
"If it goes forward, Northern Ireland will not fully experience the peace promised by the agreement ratified last year."
Bringing home the Irish bacon
Sens. Edward Kennedy and John Kerry are boosting the North peace process this week by way of Boston College.
Both announced that the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved $1.5 million in federal funding for the Irish Institute at Boston College. The Institute conducts programs dedicated to promoting peace and prosperity in Ireland, North and South.
"This is great news for Boston College and for the people of Ireland. The Irish Institute’s programs are well designed to bring participants from all communities to the U.S. to explore common interests, build relationships, and develop inter-community trust, and they deserve our continued support," Kennedy said.
"These programs that promote understanding and the exchange of ideas are even more important at this critical stage of the peace process," Kerry said.
The Irish Institute was created in 1986 as the Center for Irish Management to provide participants from Ireland with training in U.S. business practices. In the aftermath of the 1998 Good Friday accord, the Center was renamed the Irish Institute and its programs were expanded.
Former Sen. George Mitchell was honored in New York Monday when the International League for Human rights presented him with its annual Human Rights Award. The presentation was due to Mitchell’s "outstanding role" in mediating the Good Friday accord in Northern Ireland. Several speakers, including Martin O’Brien, director of the Committee for the Administration of Justice in the North, and Padraigín Drinan, a civil rights lawyer from Belfast who has taken on the case load of slain attorney Rosemary Nelson, attended the event in a Manhattan hotel during which Nelson was also memorialized. Mitchell, meanwhile, received the Truman Peace Award from Hebrew University in Jerusalem last week for "his persistent contribution of wise counsel, sensitive diplomacy and unflagging determination" during the talks leading to the accord.
Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble was to receive an honorary doctorate from the Ben Gurion University of the Negev, but he canceled the Isr’l trip following the murder of Elizabeth O’Neill in Portadown.
Jeanie Johnston’s luck
A ticket on the Jeanie Johnston was once a lifesaver. Last Saturday it became more to do with life savings.
During a live broadcast of the "Adrian Flannelly" Show from the Jeanie Johnston shipyard at Blennerville, Co. Kerry, the winning ticket of the New York State lottery draw for $50,000 was drawn.
Twenty-four contestants who had already won a trip to Ireland through a New York State Lottery draw in March gathered at the site where a full-size sailing replica of the Famine-era ship is being built.
The winner, Frances Bromley, has promised to visit the Jeanie Johnston when she sails into New York in July 2000 as part of her voyage to the U.S. and Canada.