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'Sectarian' Orangefest revealed for what it truly is

THE focus of attention has been on the tribal tendencies of elements attached to the Orange Order and their disgraceful behaviour over the Twelfth.

However, similar groups across the north have not been behaving impeccably, either, but have escaped the attention of the media, because it has become 'acceptable behaviour' to dish out sectarian hatred towards the nationalist community. When the discussions begin in the autumn, they need to embrace all aspects of a summer madness which impacts on the lives of many nationalists in towns and villages across the north.

The myth that the Twelfth is some kind of pageant, Bastille Day, or Mardi Gras, has been well and truly disposed of.

'Orangefest' has been shown for what it really is, but it is not just endemic in Belfast. It is happening year after year in many other places.

The Republic was given a meaningful role in the affairs of the north under the Anglo-Irish Agreement.

That role includes the protection of the nationalist community. It includes their right to live in a neutral society, where death threats are not posted on bonfires. It means an end to painting kerbstones in tribal colours.

Above all, it means anti-hate laws with heavy penalties.

When my party was formed in 1970, its aspirations were as above and still are. But I have to seriously ask myself: are others up to the mark? I feel not.

JOHN DALLAT (SDLP)

MLA for East Londonderry

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