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Changing the mindsets of hatred

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 05/04/2016

Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge Drew Nelson
Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge Drew Nelson

GAA clubs and Orange halls have been favoured targets for sectarian attacks over the years and it is extremely disappointing to see such wanton acts of vandalism continue with the destruction of a GAA clubhouse and gym in Moy on Sunday night, the second such attack since September.

It is to the credit of both bodies that the strongest words of condemnation have come from spokesmen for the organisations.

The Grand Secretary of the Orange Order Drew Nelson was unequivocal in denouncing those responsible and in urging anyone with information to contact the PSNI in the hope of apprehending the perpetrators.

As he rightly pointed out, such incidents have the potential to heighten tension and apprehension in both communities. It is blatant sectarianism and has no place in the Northern Ireland of today.

While politicians, particularly First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, have repeatedly condemned those responsible, there needs to be a concerted political response to each and every incident. That would set a tone which would make it clear that those responsible are beyond the pale of civilised society and that their actions are abhorrent to every right-thinking person in the province.

Even more appalling was the paint bombing of a memorial erected at the spot where eight Protestant workmen were murdered by the IRA in 1992. This follows another recent incident where flowers laid at the memorial were scattered across the road.

The obnoxious justification for the murders - six other workmen were injured when their minibus was blown up - was that they were engaged in construction work on security forces bases. It was an inexcusable attack then and the recent defacing of the memorial is equally inexcusable.

What it does underline is that there are people in both communities so filled with hate and so myopic in their vision that they cannot show any respect for each other's cultural identity or institutions.

In a way those republican protestors hitting out at the inclusion of the names of British soldiers killed in the Easter Rising in Dublin in a memorial to all the dead of that period - rebels, soldiers, police officers and - by far the biggest number of casualties - civilians, show the same narrow mindedness. Sadly changing mindsets may well take generations.

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