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Arlene Foster's fury at US video describing Orange Order as supremacists and claiming anti-Catholic discrimination is rife in Northern Ireland

By Rebecca Black

An 'educational' video commissioned by an influential Irish-American lobby group, which claims anti-Catholic discrimination is rife in Northern Ireland, has been dismissed as "rubbish".

First Minister Arlene Foster has led the criticism of the controversial film produced by the Irish National Caucus, which is based at Capitol Hill in Washington DC.

It claims Protestants have never accepted Catholics as equals, and calls for England to "finally terminate its long colonial experiment on the island of Ireland".

A narrator refers to "continuing anti-Catholic discrimination", claiming "there is still deep-rooted anti-Catholic bigotry in Northern Ireland", adding a "significant section of the Unionist/Protestant community resent sharing power with Catholics - because they have never accepted Catholics as equals".

It then labels the Orange Order as the most obvious sign of this "Protestant supremacy pathology", accusing it of "parading their anti-Catholic bigotry through poor Catholic areas".

The video also features a map of Northern Ireland, which includes the County of Donegal and some of Monaghan and Cavan.

The Irish National Caucus is the only Irish/American lobby group to maintain a permanent office on Capitol Hill and it lobbies the US Congress.

The founder of the group, Father Sean McManus, said he believes the video is a "winner".

But DUP leader Arlene Foster said the film was ill-informed and should be rejected.

"The Irish National Caucus, is spreading this propaganda, which is misleading at best and downright sectarian at worst," she said.

"The flawed nature of their information is summed up within the first 10 seconds of the video when the border isn't even in the right place. Northern Ireland, in their graphic, includes Donegal and most of Monaghan.

"Support for the Union exists right across the community, regardless of religious background.

"Ill-informed caricatures offer more analysis about the authors than they do about the intended subjects."

Mrs Foster said as part of her leadership she wants to take the positive message about Northern Ireland across the world.

"Negative and backward-looking comments like these should be rejected by all sides in Northern Ireland. I trust people from all sides will join with me in rejecting this propaganda.

"Northern Ireland is moving forward and people who promote rubbish like this must be challenged and consigned to the dustbin of history."

An Ulster Unionist spokesman described the video as "nonsense".

"By and large, I expect the people of Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan will have a canary when they realise they have been relocated into Northern Ireland without so much as a by your leave," he said.

"The Irish National Caucus has lobbied in Washington DC for over 40 years, peddling nonsense like this with some degree of success. This entirely justifies Mike Nesbitt's strategy of unionist engagement in the United States, to ensure unionism's position is clearly and accurately articulated."

Meanwhile a spokesman for the Orange Order blasted the video as "completely misinformed, inaccurate and ill-conceived", questioning why the IRA were whitewashed out of it.

"The Irish National Caucus, with its biased and sympathetic republican tendencies, attempts to demonise the Orange Institution, through such amateurish propaganda," he said.

"Yet it conveniently airbrushes from history the multiple deaths and mass destruction caused by IRA terrorists in their ultimately futile campaign of violence.

"We do, however, welcome their commitment to non-violence and call on them, therefore, to publicly condemn the murderous activities of the Provisional IRA throughout the Troubles."

Fr McManus responded to the criticism of the video by saying the geographic mistake was in the process of being fixed. He also denied that it was sectarian.

"As a Fermanagh man, I am totally aware that there are six counties not nine in Northern Ireland," he said.

"The video producer had assured us that the glitch had been fixed, and they are now re-working it."

On the group's website he said: "While the video acknowledges the progress made by the Irish peace process, it points out that there is still a long way to go: that the enduring problem is still England's undemocratic control of part of Ireland.

"That this ridiculous control in the 21st century still enables and encourages a significant section of the Unionist/Protestant community in Northern Ireland to refuse to accept Catholics as equals; and that anti-Catholicism is still a potent and poisonous pathology in that partitioned part of Ireland.

"I deliberately use the word pathology because I've always seen racism/sectarianism as a disease, wherever it appears."

Fr McManus said he is expecting hundreds of thousands to visit and view the video. Last night it had been viewed by 50.

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