Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Parades violence 'doesn't display Orangemen's core values'

Former Commission minister slams 'capacity for chaos'

A nationalist residents' protest outside St Patrick's Catholic Church, Donegall Street, during a parade last year
A nationalist residents' protest outside St Patrick's Catholic Church, Donegall Street, during a parade last year
Critical: the Rev Brian Kennaway has hit out at violence

A Former Parades Commissioner has strongly criticised the behaviour of certain loyal order parades and claimed that they "do not display the core values of the Orange or Black Institutions".

The Reverend Brian Kennaway, who served on the Parades Commission from 2011-13, is a retired minister. He told the Presbyterian General Assembly in Belfast yesterday that he joined the Orange Order in 1964 because of its core values of "brotherhood, religious piety, civic awareness, civil and religious liberty and tolerance".

Speaking in a debate on church and society he said: "While the vast majority of public parades by both the Orange and the Black throughout our land create no dificulty whatsoever, there are some, particularly in Belfast, which have the capacity of turning our community into chaos."

In a series of searching questions he asked: "What kind of civic awareness is being displayed when an Orangeman takes a ceremonial sword to the head of a policeman, or when police officers are attacked and significant amounts of money are spent policing a demonstration/protest about a legally taken decision?"

Referring to the controversy after the parade past St Patrick's Church in Belfast last August, he said: "What tolerance was being displayed when the priest had to stop saying Mass because of the noise of a passing parade? No apology has been received."

Rev Kennaway added: "What kind of Christian values are being expressed where the behaviour of those on parade is expressly intended to be insulting?

"It may be an expression of culture, but it is not Christian culture."

He also asked pointedly: "What kind of religious piety is being displayed by the nightly abuse of police officers at Twaddell Avenue?"

He was supporting a resolution which was accepted by the Assembly which recommended that "as the main parading season approaches all who participate in public parades and protests obey the law and avoid any behaviour which is not for the overall good of society".

It also urged that those organisations espousing Christian values should behave in a way that reflects scriptural teaching.

The Assembly also backed a resolution supporting "a properly accountable police service through the Policing Board and the office of the Ombudsman".

A former Moderator, Reverend Dr Norman Hamilton, also backed the Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire in serving notice on the PSNI for its alleged failure to supply investigators with material concerning 60 murders.

Dr Hamilton said: "He is to be commended because here we see accountability in public, robust and transparent."

He expressed concern at the "silence of so many of our public representatives and those in the accountability structures" to express active support for the PSNI.

He said: "This abject silence must end.

"Ambiguity about active support for the PSNI nourishes the soil in which the weeds of partisanship, indifference, criminality and even indifference can grow."

The General Assembly also urged people who speak in public "to ensure that they use words that heal rather than hurt" and to show a generosity of spirit.

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