Republicans inviting Unionists to the dance?

IOt was interesting to watch Gerry Adams so apparently at ease in at the dining table of Hillsborough House last night. Today his party launches a Charter for Unionist engagement, but not every unionist is over the moon about it.

“…we recognise there are entrenched positions out there within the unionist and republican population who find engagement somewhat difficult, we hope this charter will in some way prevent those people who are trying to maintain fostering differences of the two communities.

“The development of our unionist engagement is about trying to build up a better understanding of people from the different parts of our community and their experiences. It is a two-way street and a slow process but there is significant engagement between ourselves and people right throughout the Protestant, unionist, and loyalist community.”

The Belfast Telegraph notes that meanwhile:

…the Orange Order has demanded an apology from republicans for the murder of Orangemen throughout the Troubles. Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Drew Nelson, has said: “We believe that 311 members of the Orange Order were murdered as a result of the Troubles.

“Of those, almost 200 were current or former members of the security forces. Many were murdered simply because they were members of the Orange Order. In the case of the Tullyvallen Orange Hall massacre in 1975, the IRA burst into a lodge meeting and murdered five defenceless Orangemen.

“There has been a clear campaign since then to attack our buildings and on average 14 Orange Halls have been burnt per year – that is more than one per month. In total there have been over 260 attacks on our halls”.

Over in the Newsletter gives the initiative a cautious response:

Are Martina Anderson and Sinn Fein serious? Is it anything more than a stunt? We shall soon see. If it proves to be just another stunt, then it will be a damaging stunt – for it will have shown once more that republicans are in a state of denial, and determined to deny their neighbours full rights to exist and express themselves.

Republicans have, if you like, issued the invitation. Let us see now if it is worth attending – let republicans begin now to embrace reality.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty