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Former top Orange Order official writes for Sinn Fein paper An Phoblacht: Warns republicans to stop 'poking unionists in the eye'

By Noel McAdam

Published 04/07/2015

Former top Orange Order official writes for Sinn Fein paper An Phoblacht
Former top Orange Order official writes for Sinn Fein paper An Phoblacht

A former top Orange Order official has written for Sinn Fein paper An Phoblacht - warning republicans to stop "poking unionists in the eye".

Former Order chaplain Rev Brian Kennaway ran into controversy with the institution when he joined the Parades Commission, which he has now left.

His article in An Phoblacht concludes that if republicans want to be taken seriously they should "think long and hard" about their words and actions.

It is part of a series invoked by Sinn Fein chairman Declan Kearney's call for the need for "uncomfortable conversations" between republicans and unionists.

Mr Kearney had said republicanism needed to become more intuitive about unionist apprehensions and objections, and sensitised in its response.

Mr Kennaway said unionists were not immune from such behaviour, "as the recent 'curry my yoghurt' remarks by the DUP MP Gregory Campbell demonstrated".

But he added: "You cannot achieve reconciliation on a human level by continually poking your opponents in the eye.

"Poking unionists in the eye by organising opposition to Orange parades, the naming of a children's play park after Raymond McCreesh, and the removal of the national flag from Belfast City Hall." Mr Kennaway added: "I do not hear much from republicans in terms of a genuine acknowledgement of the mistakes of the past.

"If true reconciliation between communities is to be achieved we need to hear genuine words of 'abject and true remorse' clearly demonstrated in action.

"You cannot achieve reconciliation by constantly bringing up past events and failing to apply statements made in defence of IRA action to the actions of others.

"This was demonstrated recently when Gerry Adams made reference to Jean McConville's murder as 'these things happen in war'. If that is to be universally applied, then so is Bloody Sunday."

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