Sunday March 5th 2006
By Ruth Dudley Edwards
AT LAST an issue on which pretty well everyone agrees. Last Saturday's
riots were a victory for unionism/loyalism/Love Ulster and for FAIR
(Families Acting for Innocent Relatives) and its spokesman, Willie
Frazer - a man whose loss of five relatives to the IRA explains but
does not excuse his occasional incendiary language and hisconnection
with some loyalists as dodgy as those with whom our President and her
husbandconsort. Here are three unlikely bedfellows.
"The people who covered themselves in the tricolour and threw stones
and petrol bombs at the gardai on Saturday have set back the cause of a
United Ireland by years," said DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson on Question
Time. "They've done more damage to their cause in a morning and
afternoon than the whole forcesof unionism could have done over a
"The rioters on Saturday have set back the cause of Irish unity and
further alienated mainstream Irish society from engaging in the
northern question," wrote the SDLP's Tom Kelly in his Irish News
"This was a victory for Willie Frazer," wrote Bairbre de Brun, Sinn
Fein's forbidding MEP, in the tribal Daily Ireland, "who came to Dublin
looking for a negative reaction - and he got just that."
A politically incorrect republican, who provided an alias instead of
his real name, took a slightly different tack in his aggrieved entry in
the guestbook of FAIR: "They should all have been shot dead in Dublin
instead of running for there [sic] lives back in to the occupied part
of our country which very shortly will not be a safe haven for them,
send them all on a one-way ticket out of Larne Harbour then an hour
into there [sic eile] journey sink the boat."
>From unionist friends, the strongest sense I get is a grim amusement
that what they believe to be the sectarian underbelly of the south has
been put on show before the world. If there's one thing that drives
even the most enlightened of them crazy, it's nationalists' smug and
self-deluding insistence that the south's much-vaunted pluralism
extends to unionists.
Not only did unionists/loyalists/Love Ulster/FAIR/Willie Frazer win,
but the republican movement lost. Sinn Fein has been damaged by
association. All but the most ignorant voters know that the Dublin
violence was a mirror image of many an anti-parade riot across the
border organised by the Provos in recent years.
For better-informed voters, there's also the sobering knowledge that
republican oratory stoked up hatred and prejudice in advance of the
parade, painting these unionist victims of the IRA as
Orange/loyalist/bigots thumbing their noses at victims of loyalism.
Sinn Fein TD Sean Crowe spoke of "a provocative and sectarian march",
and Daily Ireland, and other predictable mouthpieces majored on
spreading negative information as well as downright disinformation
about some of those expected to attend: "Loyalists may carry Dublin
bomber pictures" was a much-repeated Daily Ireland contribution. This
Friday, its loathing for Frazer was shockingly demonstrated by a
headline "I'll be Back", accompanied by a doctored photograph showing
him as part Terminator.
Much of this propaganda could have been countered had our political
leaders had the moral courage to acknowledge the terrible suffering of
many unionists at the hands of the IRA and actively welcome them to
Dublin. Michael McDowell's courtesy in agreeing to meet the organisers
has been undone by his party leader's description of the Orange Order -
some of whose members came south in plain clothes - as "a sectarian and
As the Reverend Brian Kennaway pointed out in Thursday's Irish Times,
the Order in its beliefs and language is no more sectarian and bigoted
than the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Church of
'Much of this propaganda could have been countered had our political
leaders acknowledged the suffering of many unionists'
Ireland and the Presbyterian, Methodist and Roman Catholic churches.
Perhaps, he suggested politely, "the Tanaiste should get out more and
meet some of us and not willingly accept the caricature of generations
We are shamed and exposed by our ignorance and prejudice. Is there any
possibility that we will make it up to the victims who have been
insulted in our streets by showing some humility and begging them to
give us a second chance?
Ruth Dudley Edwards