Irish News editor Noel Doran: There are a few facts I'd like to get straight with Mr Nelson McCausland
Nelson McCausland, in a column entirely aimed at The Irish News (DebateNI, July 16), demanded to know what could possibly be problematic about a banner that carried the words "Belfast Orangefest".
If he was totally stumped, he might have glanced at the article on a facing page from the Belfast Telegraph's political editor, Liam Clarke, under the headline "Belfast violence leaves Orange Order badly wounded".
In a firm assessment, Mr Clarke wrote: "This year, the disgraceful behaviour of loyalists on the Crumlin Road drives poison into the political system and the Orange Order in Belfast must take some responsibility."
What really appears to have upset Mr McCausland is that The Irish News dared to inquire about the unusual circumstances in which a large Orangefest banner came to be attached to the front wall of our office in the run-up to the July 12 parades without any specific consultation.
He said that we reported the development in what he described as "ominous" terms, and noted "... soon afterwards, the Belfast Orangefest banner was removed".
There was an unmistakable innuendo in his comments, so, for the record, all decisions over the banner were taken by the Belfast City Centre Management group and The Irish News at no stage requested its removal.
Mr McCausland went on to offer a potted history of The Irish News, which did not include any event to have taken place since 1892, and he is fully entitled to his opinion in that regard.
He also praised the school principal and former Armagh GAA star Jarlath Burns for his positive remarks about the new Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast, and concluded, " ... sadly, not everyone has that generosity of spirit".
However, it would seem that his research in relation to the Museum of Orange Heritage did not extend to reading the leading article on the subject which we carried on June 30.
Our editorial expressed concern over recent attacks on Clifton Street Orange Hall and spoke of the need to prevent further violence and achieve deeper cross-community under- standing.
It then said: "The Orange Order is to be commended for making some efforts to explain its aims and objectives more widely, opening new museums at its headquarters in Belfast last week and in Loughgall, Co Armagh, yesterday. Further such efforts are needed across society."
Mr McCausland may also have been unaware that the opening of the Museum of Orange Heritage received front-page coverage in The Irish News of June 25, including a main photograph of junior Orange members joining pupils from Mr Burns' school and the former Irish president, Mary McAleese, at the ceremony.
This is all information which is readily available and in the public domain. If Mr McCausland is uncertain about any other matters involving The Irish News, he only has to ask.
- Noel Doran is editor of The Irish News