“Politics of condemnation” is no match for the “bigots and racists” who attack Orange Halls…

If you missed it, I had a good conversation with Sinn Fein’s Senator Padraig MacLochlainn on Matt Cooper’s The Last Word on Today FM a few weeks ago about the mega bonfires and other forms of tribal egregiousness:

In it, Padraig talked about the leadership he had personally given over attacks on Orange Halls in Donegal.

But as I pointed out at the time, this was fine in Donegal where he’s actually doing the job of representing his electorate (and the whole electorate, as all elected reps are obliged by law), but in Northern Ireland, his party’s actions mean there’s no such leadership.

So there were condemnations by Sinn Fein spokesmen, over two attacks in Kilkeel and Cloughmills (just take a look at the steel shutters on the door and windows to get a sense of the general conditions Orange Halls have to endure in parts of NI).

The Senator called the perpetrators of such attacks “bigots and racists”, and I would not disagree with him. But without government action, the politics of condemnation is a cheap (literally, it costs nothing, and is worth little more than nothing) alternative.

  • What government action can be taken to stop Hate Crime in Northern Ireland? Should the sentencing become heavier? I am mindful of the Spotlight documentary on Hate Crime https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbAktLXFPho ( and which ought to be flagged and taken down from youtube.)

  • Neil

    But without government action, the politics of condemnation is a cheap (literally, it costs nothing, and is worth little more than nothing) alternative.

    That’s a point of view. Some people would say that if the DUP were to engage in the politics of condemnation around activities such as nearly burning down an apartment block causing tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage, or burning flags, or even the ridiculous scale of the bonfires then that would be progress. They know it’s inevitable (see injunction) but they don’t have the cojones to see it through (see going to ground post injunction).

  • Kevin Breslin

    The attacks on Orange Halls are despicable and rightly condemned across the political spectrum. They are criminal and a job for the policing services.

    There is a job for the educational services and community groups to realise that Orangeism is a part of Ireland, whatever the political situation is. That we need to respect and understand differences as part of a liberal constitutional democracy whichever side of the border we inhabit.

    I really don’t know what you expect politicians to do about these antisocial behaviours. I’m sure the Donegal Councillors from whatever part of the spectrum work their best to change attitudes.

    Rural Orangemen and Rural (Concerned) Residents usually get on far better than their urban counterparts.

  • Redstar

    The problem is when a ” culture” actually includes hate. Let’s be frank if there were no popes, tricolours etc burnt on eleventh night bonfires they wouldn’t have the same appeal to the Neanderthal types attending them. Same again for idiots burning Unionist symbols in August

  • Granni Trixie

    Dont altogether agree with you, Mick. There is a difference in ‘the politics of condemnation’ and leaders calling out wrong where it occurs, especially to an audience of their own followers. This is leadership in my book.
    As well as the case referred to (abuse of Orange Halls), in Ni for example we have cases where some materials placed on bonfires are OTT (election posters,MMG coffin etc) where it would be helpful to have a United front by politicians and community leaders saying this is not acceptable.

  • mickfealty

    That’s a blog fail on my part then Granni. I probably relied too much on the sound clip, but my point is that words without actions are meaningless, and if we have no means because people resile from governmental responsibility, then “the politics of condemnation” is pointless gesturing.

  • Granni Trixie

    To expand on my point, recognition of these kinds of cyclical problems is necessary in order to address them – as you say – with action. However, I suppose I was mainly thinking that such recognition IS action designed to impact on underlying attitudes. (Sorry about shouty letters but haven’t worked out how to do Italics for emphasis).

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I think it’s great that Shinner will condemn something, Cllr McCann in Enniskillen is not similarly minded: “”You see, you can go down this road of condemning this and commending that, and commending this and condemning that…”

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-40748018

  • Redstar

    But this in itself just gets used as a political point scoring exercise. So if Cllr Mc Cann did condemn it and then put forward a motion for example condemning all murders by the British sec forces- would the unionists agree with that motion

    It’s basically point scoring whataboutery where condemnation is very selective and sadly pointless

  • Aodh Morrison

    I’ll not stoop to bother to challenge the victim blaming evident in some of the replies. Looking about the country it’s very noticeable that the Orange Order is under some kind of siege in many areas. Many of the rural buildings are like bunkers, they’d put police stations back in the day to shame.

    Many manifestations of Orangeism in the public space are not pleasant but if you had to secure your hall behind steel doors and slit windows before you marched off for the day it might just put you in a rather negative or combative mood.

  • Redstar

    No one denies that OO and GAA facilities are targeted by sectarian thugs. But even highlighting one above the other is selective/whataboutery/sectarian, take your pick

  • John Porter

    egregiousness wtf.

  • Msiegnaro

    The problem with attacking Orange halls is that it’s almost justified by some politicians, social media and other online avenues including this site. How many refer to Orange culture as “Kulture” and make other false connections between the LOI and the Klan?
    The Loyal Orange is called racist even though there are members of all colours in the organisation and it’s also call xenophobic even though there are members from many different countries in the organistation.

    If we are serious about condemning such attacks we need to stop feeding the fires of hate and false information. I am happy for the Orange to be challenged when it does wrong but lazy stereotypical attacks in word which are frequently inaccurate only lead to physical attacks on people and property.

  • Msiegnaro

    This post is part of the problem, why have you included culture in inverted commas?

  • Msiegnaro

    How many posts are not devoted to attacks on GAA facilities etc, you’re clearly struggling to given a more even perspective of the Orange and this is the problem.

  • Zeno

    Northern Ireland doesn’t work in that was Granni. Problems are solved, not by leadership but by money. There are no incredible charismatic leaders with the powers you are hoping for. The bonfire problem will be solved by money just in the same way every other problems were solved. The attacks on Orange Halls, the same. Condemnation is just like throwing petrol on the fires, especially when it comes from the other side.

  • Redstar

    Because some cultures traditions etc because of their inherent hate aspects are not cultures/ traditions in the truest sense of the word.

    If a culture / tradition is based on negativity/hate of others imho it does not deserve respect

  • Msiegnaro

    Please be specific as to what traditions are not cultural and explain why.

  • sparrow

    Christopher Stalford turned up at Sandy Row 11th night celebrations, but somehow found himself too busy to talk to local residents concerned that their apartment block was about to go up in flames. Emma Little-Pengally refused to condemn the flying of flags in a mixed area. Then there is the refusal of the same two people to comment on tonight’s march along the Ormeau Road by UDA members commemorating UFF men Bratty and Elder. Pengally is an elected member of the British parliament, yet she cannot bring herself to condemn a proscribed organisation marching through a mainly Catholic area of her constituency. Shameful stuff.

  • mickfealty

    But it’s not policy. And without policy it’s mostly guff. Worth listening to this exchange between Steve Richard and John Kay on the difference between policy and guff: https://goo.gl/Zg08ku.

    So we get distracted on an issue, that if we had some collective cross community (ie power sharing) action, would not be an issue and we coulc get on to hospitals and schools, were we have some serious legacy issues.

    But, we mistake guff for action. Padraig’s brave stand locally in Donegal does nothing to stem the ride of attacks against Orange Halls in Northern Ireland. Nor does the ritual condemnation.

  • Aodh Morrison

    True. I’m happy to embrace context, what some may call ‘whataboutery’. So I don’t take issue with you introducing attacks on the GAA on a thread about attacks on OO halls.

    Perhaps it is because GAA buildings are generally not on the roadside, as Orange halls tend to be, and they are therefore less visible to passers by, and indeed their doors and windows are steel-shuttered and paint-splattered as many OO halls are?

    I’ll have to take your word for it. I don’t visit GAA grounds, and only pass by OO halls as I go about my way.

  • Sean Danaher

    I’m sure you meant “bigotry is rife” rather “right”
    Agree completely otherwise

  • WindowLean

    Just to clarify AM, yes, that Fermanagh & Omagh Council meeting was held in Enniskillen but as a resident of Fermanagh I’d like to point out that Councillor McCann represents the West Tyrone Ward!

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Noted, thank you.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I meant bigotry is the right term Sean. Sorry for the loss in context.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    You raise a point but perhaps not in the way you intended…

    I’ve long argued that the antics of the Belfast 12th and the 11th night subculture there tightens the screws on the rest of the Orange related culture throughout NI and as such they end up paying the price for some Rangers-top-clad eejit with a Jerry can of petrol lighting up a Pope strewn bonfire.

    The parading culture IS a culture and Quincey Dougan’s pieces on here explain why (yes, they’re rose tinted but quite accurate).

    But regardless of the lowering of the cultural tone by the Belfast outfit it does not justify the brush-tarring that is often employed when the attacks on Orange halls are highlighted.

  • Granni Trixie

    I’m not saying carrot and stick (i.e. ‘money’) doesn’t often work but you seem to think that changing attitudes in Ni is different than in all over the world where politicians can give a steer for change. I don’t even think it takes charisma to affect public discourse. Especially when you consider that right and wrong (ok,morality) is socially constructed.

  • Aodh Morrison

    I think it’s a riff on the old ‘our culture is more cultural than your kulture’ one.

  • Zeno

    Politicians are primarily concerned with power. They won’t do anything that will leave them open to losing votes. Condemning anything leaves them open to opponents and allegations of being stoop down lows or lundys.
    The Twadell problem was solved by money, as was the flags problem. Bonfires are the next cash cow for the paramilitaries. The government will basically pay them to enforce rules on bonfires. Obviously it was all be dressed up as money from the social fund for deprived areas.

  • Oggins

    We have some amount of [insert swear word]ers in position of authority and leadership. He is a joke

  • Oggins

    When do we draw the line?how do we draw the line?

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Are you sure about a proscribed organisation marching through a mainly catholic area ?

  • T.E.Lawrence
  • T.E.Lawrence
  • 05OCT68

    “It is disgraceful but not surprising that there has been over 200 attacks on Orange Halls throughout Northern Ireland since 2009. Gary Middlieton quoted in report, He dosn’t however explain his lack of suprise.

  • mickfealty

    He must understand that the politics of condemnation (I’m willing to bet Gerry had something to do with dreaming that one up from somewhere back in the day) is a waste of time if it is not backed with action…

  • mickfealty

    Would you ever just listen to/read the primary material in the OP before ‘speaking’ RS??

  • Deplorable Ulsterman

    Hate is a valid position on many issues.

  • Msiegnaro

    There is appearing a step change at least within Unionism and its view of 11th night bonfires.

  • sparrow

    Which bit are you questioning?

  • Roger

    An important distinction.

  • Roger

    I don’t know about GAA club attacks. Are there many? Do they only happen in UKNI or is it going on in Ireland too?

  • aquifer

    We are missing prosecutions for sneaky attacks on halls and cowardly attacks on homes. If the state were serious about this it would be deploying some of the cheap surveillance equipment available nowadays, maybe even launching a drone to ensure that suspects do not get to sneak away.