Belfast Telegraph

Men's honours richly deserved

Editor's Viewpoint

Every New Year and on her official birthday in June the Queen awards honours to people from all walks of life who have made a difference to society or who have excelled in their chosen field of endeavour. It is a recognition for a job well done and should not be viewed as anything other.

That is why it is sad that two deserving recipients from Northern Ireland in the latest honours list should feel they need to justify their decision to accept their awards.

Pat McCarthy, the former SDLP Lord Mayor of Belfast, and Jim Roddy, Londonderry city centre manager, each received an MBE for their service to the community. Mr McCarthy, a former internee, and Mr Roddy, who helped broker the deal of parading in his city which could, and should, act as a blueprint for other contentious marches across Northern Ireland, have faced criticism for their decisions to take their awards. But, as the men point out, they do not feel that going to Buckingham Palace for their honours dilutes in any way their own Irishness or their political aspirations.

Mr McCarthy candidly admits that he wants a united Ireland, and that is a perfectly legitimate political belief.

His honour was awarded without regard to that belief, but rather for his work in his chosen field of politics and especially working for all the community during his time as Lord Mayor.

He is quite right to denounce those who would choose to coerce people into a united Ireland through force and to disregard their criticism of him. Mr Roddy's position is remarkably similar. He has worked unceasingly to make Derry a better city for all its citizens, one where people are free to hold and express their political and cultural viewpoints in a peaceful manner.

This work was recognised by those within the city who nominated him for his honour. They saw in him a man who helped remove the previous chaos over marching and thereby improve the image of the city and make it a more attractive place for tourists and investors.

Neither man's beliefs have to chime with those of monarchists. Instead, they have demonstrated a willingness to attempt to make their respective cities better places to live in.

That is a worthy ambition that is shared by the vast majority of people and both men are right to accept their due honours.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph