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Celebrating unionist gun-running is immoral

WHAT have Sir Roger Casement, Billy Hutchinson, Gerry Adams and the Orange Order got in common? They all share a belief that importing guns and using the threat of violence to influence British policy in Ireland is something to be celebrated.

That republicans would support and celebrate gun-running will not surprise anyone, but that unionists would do so in Larne should surprise and worry all of us. As a child growing up during the Troubles I was always told that the other side started it; that our violence was only as response to republican violence. We were told a lie.

We in the unionist community were the first to import guns in April 1914 and we did so in the hope that the threat of violence would overthrow Home Rule.

For decades we have deliberately muddied the reasons for setting up the UVF and importing guns from Germany, but it is clear we imported those guns to threaten violence if we did not get our way.

Before any of us decide whether to attend their celebration in Larne, can someone from the Orange Order explain how the gun-running that took place 100 years ago was a good and moral act? How does romanticising this fit with Christian morality?

If we support this celebration, with street parades of men in old-fashioned UVF uniform, how do we respond in two years when hardline republicans want to flood Northern Ireland with flags and marches celebrating the old IRA?



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