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Catholics subject to religious insults for decades

IN an attempt to distance himself from his initial robust defence of the remarks of Pastor James McConnell, First Minister Peter Robinson said he believed Pastor McConnell had the right to freedom of speech, but that he "would never seek to cause any insult to any section of our community". Really?

May I remind Mr Robinson that the Catholic faith and faithful have been mocked and insulted by many in the unionist/Protestant community over decades and it continues to be tolerated.

Papal flags and Catholic religious statues are now being set alight atop Orange bonfires. Orange bands play sectarian tunes as they pass Catholic churches.

Catholic children at Holy Cross school were victims of the worst excesses of loyalist degeneracy and some Orange Order bandsmen have even taken to urinating against Catholic churches.

In 2005, at the annual blessing-of-the-graves ceremony at Carnmoney graveyard in Newtownabbey, loyalist worthies from the Rathcoole estate threatened to dig up Catholic graves in retaliation for the PSNI rerouting the Orange Order's Whiterock parade. The nationalist enclave of the Short Strand is under constant loyalist siege.

The news that Anna Lo, the Alliance Party MLA, who has lived here for 40 years and has recently been subjected to racist abuse, is considering leaving over sectarian abuse is an appalling indictment of the north's sectarianism.

TOM COOPER

Dublin

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