‘Parade not right way to mark Covenant’ - O’Loan
BALLYMENA SDLP Councillor Declan O’Loan has said that the large Orange Order parade which took place on Saturday in Belfast was not the right way to mark the centenary of the Ulster Covenant.
According to Cllr O’Loan ‘we need reflective rather than celebratory events’.
He said “The Ulster Covenant was the first major event in the decade of centenaries and it was important that it be marked in a constructive way which will bode well for future anniversaries.
“To me, the key tests for proper commemoration of these important historical events are that they should be the type of events that the whole community can feel part of, and that they give the opportunity for reflection on what happened from a variety of perspectives.
“Commemmorations should also contribute to building up our sense of community and partnership at local, regional and national levels. The Orange Order parade fails all of those tests.”
Mr O’Loan continued: ““By presenting itself as a “celebration”, the parade adopted the Ulster Covenant in a totally uncritical fashion. In particular, it therefore embraced the use of “all necessary means” which was the precursor to a period of shocking violence, division and separation in Ireland. I am very fearful if we adopt such an uncritical stance to all the events of 1912 to 1922.
“We need to get to a position where, while recognising that those were different times, and while being aware that those events are still very current in terms of their significance for today, we can begin to ask questions about the use of violence from many sides in that decade.
“When I was on the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee at Stormont, a number of us constantly pressed the then Minister, Nelson McCausland to bring forward a plan for the decade of centenaries, developed in conjunction with the Irish government.
“That never happened, and that is why such events as Saturday’s parade have moved into the empty space,” said Mr O’Loan.
He added: “As it happens, last Wednesday at the Ballymena Museum, there was a superb event for Sixth Formers when expert historians discussed the Third Home Rule Bill and the Ulster Covenant.
“This was exactly the right kind of event to mark an important historical anniversary and our Museum deserves congratulations for it.”
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Weather for Ballymena
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: South west
Temperature: 11 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: South