A south Belfast Orange Hall was packed beyond capacity by locals discussing how to vote in the forthcoming election – in which incumbent DUP MP Emma Little Pengelly is considered unlikely to retain.
Sinn Fein have stood aside from the seat in what is considered a de facto pact which is considered to have left the SDLP’s Claire Hanna as favourite.
On Wednesday night it is reported that some 350 people packed into Sandy Row Orange Hall, with another 50 people outside unable to get in.
DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said: “The main issue was to discuss the very strong opposition to the current Brexit deal and the conclusion was that it was very important for every to register to vote.”
“The Sinn Fein – SDLP pact was not discussed, he said, although those present were conscious of the fact that there will be a tough battle to retain the seat,” he said.
The South Belfast Cultural And Historical Society reported that the message from Billy Hutchinson, Emma Little-Pengelly and Jeffrey Donaldson) was clear;- “Get registered. Vote Unionist. Return our MP’s to Westminster for the union.
“The message from Sandy Row Orange Hall last night was clear.
South Belfast is Unified! South Belfast will not have the Betrayal Act!”
With many thanks to the: Belfast News Letter and Philip Bradfield for the original story
In March, a man walked into the offices of the Impartial Reporter in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh’s biggest town.
He wanted to speak about how he was sexually abused years ago as a child by paedophiles in the public toilets just up the street.
When the paper printed the story, it opened a flood-gate on a deluge of emails, texts, letters and phone calls to the newspaper from readers with allegations of child sex abuse dating back decades.
Rodney Edwards, the paper’s deputy editor, took on the story.
Through headline after headline, week after week, each report with its own harrowing story, Mr Edwards and the Impartial Reporter, have given victims a voice .
Alleged victims have told their disturbing stories of abuse that spanned all areas of this rural community; Protestant and Catholic backgrounds, rich and poor, men and women.
So far 60 people have come forward, naming more than 60 alleged perpetrators.
Breaking their silence
How did this small Fermanagh paper, with a staff of just five reporters, crack open one of Northern Ireland’s biggest child sex-abuse scandals?
The Impartial Reporter has been publishing Fermanagh’s news for over 180 years
The Impartial Reporter has been covering local news from its Enniskillen offices for 180 years.
Mr Edwards has just marked 10 years at the paper, but said: “It’s only really now I get a sense of achievement; this is probably the most important thing I’ll get to do.
The paper invited survivors to trust Mr Edwards to tell their stories.
“The response has been unprecedented with people getting in touch with sexual abuse claims right across the county,” he said.
In his office looking the town’s main street, Mr Edwards pulled open a desk drawer to reveal dozens of handwritten letters, all from people writing about their abuse.
Some had never spoken out before about what had happened to them.
“John” is one of those. After seeing the stories in the paper, he emailed Mr Edwards one Saturday night.
He wrote about how he was abused by a local bus driver, David Sullivan, from the age of 12 to 16.
David Sullivan was found murdered in 2001; no-one has ever been charged in connection with his murder.
John is a strapping big man, successful in his career, married with children.
He fiddles with his mobile phone as he speaks.
“I never told anybody about it. I spent 30 years probably running from this,” he said.
He wanted to tell his story as a way to force himself to tell his wife, who has been his partner since he was 16.
Mr Edwards was the first person he had spoken to about it. The memories were still raw.
John offered to take us to places where the abuse took place.
The staff at the Impartial Reporter
We drove to to Dolan’s Ring, and parked in a secluded lay-by surrounded by trees overlooking a fishing jetty nestled beside Lough Erne.
John began to speak. He said it was the first time he has been back to the site since the day he was first abused by David Sullivan.
He was 12.
“I can remember I kept saying: ‘No, no, I want to go home’,” he said.
“It was horrific. About 10 minutes later it was over and I got dropped home and that was it.”
John says he knows at least 20 other victims of David Sullivan, who he said had ready access to young people.
“It was constant and you would see it all the time,” he said.
‘Pulling the scab off’
“Sara” spoke to Rodney Edwards about the sexual abuse she says she suffered as a child while at Orange Order band practice.
The Grand Lodge of Ireland said at the time the allegations she made were serious, and that it would co-operate with any police investigation.
The PSNI has set up a special task force to examine the alleged crimes reported to the Impartial Reporter.
Over the years, Sara has had a difficult time dealing with what she says happened to her.
A recovering alcoholic, she had a breakdown and even tried to take her own life.
From her kitchen, adorned with inspirational slogans on fridge magnets and dream catchers by the open window, she said she felt like she was in a dream, now that she was finally able to tell her story.
Fermanagh is going through an awakening, she said – finally facing up to the sexual abuse that was prolific, but hidden and not spoken about for so long.
“We are taking the scab off a wound, a wound that is full of all the rotten, dirty germs and scum and the filth that has been buried in there for years and years,” she said.
“We are gently now pulling the scab off and we are revealing this poison, this toxin that has been running through our society here for all of my lifetime.”
Silent No More: Fermanagh’s Abused Children is on BBC Radio Ulster’s Stories in Sound at 1230 on Sunday 6 October.
Presentational grey line
Information and advice
If you or someone you know has been affected by child sexual abuse, sexual abuse or violence, help is available. Find support through BBC Action Line .
With many thanks to: BBC NewsNI and Elaine Dunseath for the original story
TORY leadership hopeful Michael Gove has a long-held fascination with the Troubles and knew the words to loyalist anthem The Sash, a new biography reveals.
Sean O’Grady, a journalist who worked alongside the environment minister, recalls an eye-opening visit to Mr Gove’s London flat in the 1990s.
“He had an enormous cartoon of the Ulster Unionist Party in parliament – a great big Orange banner type of affair,” Mr O’Grady told Owen Bennett, author of Michael Gove: A Man in a Hurry.
Mr O’Grady, associate editor of the Independent, says Mr Gove’s politics were “quite Orange”.
He remembers the former education secretary’s enthusiasm for unionism was a “bit odd”‘, adding: “he’d be perfectly happy to sing along with Orange songs – ‘the sash my father wore’, all that sort of stuff.”
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Others too have witnessed Mr Gove belting out loyalist tunes.
Mike Elrick, who trained with him as a journalist, remembers the Conservative leadership contender as “very, very strongly supportive of Ulster Protestantism, and very much sided with the Protestant political parties”.
“I remember him singing various Ulster songs – partly in jest, but he knew the words,” he recalled.
In 2000, former journalist Mr Gove wrote a pamphlet called ‘Northern Ireland: the Price of Peace’, in which he compared the Good Friday Agreement to the appeasement of the Nazis in the 1930s and the condoning of the desires of paedophiles.
The Scottish-born Brexiteer said the agreement was a “mortal stain” and “a humiliation of our army, police and parliament”, and that its 1998 endorsement on both sides of the border was a “rigged referendum”.
With many thanks to: The Irish News for the original story
The Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors Flute Band annual parade will take place in the village this Friday night.
Statements have been made by the Band and Unionist and Nationalist representatives.
The Parades Commission has banned the parade from returning through the centre of Rasharkin.
The Commission had also banned Apprentice Boys from marching into Sunnyside Drive in Rasharkin last Saturday.
The band’s statement said: “On Friday 19th August 2011, Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors Flute Band will hold their 31st annual competition parade and fundraiser. Once again the band has been punished by the Parades Commission for no logical reason other than to appease those who are opposed to us, and cause more division within our community by diverting the parade outside the village on its return leg.
“The notified route will therefore be assembly at Turnpike, then Church Road, Main Street, Moneyleck Road, Bann Road, Glebe Road then right onto Church Road again to dispersal. The Parades Commission has also seen fit to reduce the bands’ parade time, with starting now at 7.30pm and dispersal by 9.30pm.
“Again, this puts the band under pressure to have its parade in a dignified manner, and by reducing our time firmly shows no respect being granted to us and our culture.
“The Band has always been proactive in its stance within the community, and over the last 30 years no law has been broken in the holding of our competition parade and fundraiser, however, this cannot be said for the protest held in opposition to our parade.”
The band statement said the band and visiting bands have been “subjected to a torrent of sectarian abuse and intimidation”.
The statement added: “However, the Band does not see itself as having a political agenda, unlike those opposed to us, and does not wish to offend anyone by holding our annual night, therefore will not be made a political football, but instead run our parade to the best of our ability, as we always do.
“The Band also wants to make welcome those who come year in year out over our history to support us, but we make it very clear those who wish to inflame tensions and cause trouble to stay away.
“As with previous years the Band will have a competition on the night with the best overall band receiving the Richard Laverty Memorial Shield,” said the statement.
Rasharkin-based Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay said residents are “absolutely livid at the Parades Commission decision to allow 44 bands and thousands of loyalists to march through the nationalist village of Rasharkin again”.
Mr McKay said: “The Parades Commission should knock on every door in this village and ask residents whether they want this parade … its participants urinating in gardens, with verbal and physical assaults on villagers and pure sectarian nature visited upon them year after year.
“If they did they would know that their decision has given the green light to a dangerous sectarian … jamboree through this village.
“The Commission had an opportunity to place a restriction on this parade which would have outlawed the display of … flags – they failed to do that. They could have placed a restriction on 44 bands playing sectarian music past the residents protest – they didn’t.
“They could have re-routed this parade away from the centre of the village and ensured that there wasn’t an interface created on the Main Street and they ignored that request.
“This band and the parade organisers have refused to engage with the residents who live in this village for many years now. There is absolutely no onus on them to engage as long as the Commission continue to let them have their way.”
Mr McKay alleged community relations have been “destroyed” and said the situation will “only worsen” as loyalists are “allowed to take over Rasharkin” and “intimidate residents.”
North Antrim DUP MLA Mervyn Storey said: “Yet again we have seen evidence, if evidence were ever needed, for the dismantling of the Parades Commission. Having imposed a totally illogical determination with regard to the Apprentice Boys feeder parade, excluding them from Sunnyside, the Parades Commission then continued to compound this disgraceful determination by imposing a one way route for the Ballymaconnelly parade.
“When it comes to this Commission it is clear that they are more content to listen to the sectarian and anti-parade logic of the residents association rather than the facts of what it is like for the Protestant community to live and express their identity in the village.
“It is clear from this one sided determination that the Commission is more intent on placing restrictions on the parade organisers, who have never been found in breach of any determination, rather than on the protest … who have not only breached previous determinations but have acted in a way that is to say the least disgraceful. This from an unrepresentative organisation who tell us that they want to be shown respect. To date all we have seen and heard from this group and their political masters in SF is double standards and double talk.
“SF has encouraged and supported this campaign … against Ballymaconnelly Band and other parades in the village, yet trumpeting to the world that they are the champions of a shared society.
“Last week when I made representations to the Commission along with my party colleague Arlene Foster, I urged the Commission not to further compound their scandalous errors with another relating to the upcoming Ballymaconnelly parade.
“The Protestant community in Rasharkin and the majority of the Roman Catholic community want to see an end to the attitude and actions of a small and unrepresentative group who present themselves as a residents association.
“The situation in Rasharkin demonstrates that the political masters of that group can only speak with a forked tongue regarding a shared future in Northern Ireland. Rasharkin is a test case of their credentials and whether they can actually transform their rhetoric into actions on this issue. It is shameful that the failures of Republicans on this issue however are constantly rewarded by an ever compliant Parades Commission.
“However despite the challenges that such determinations and opposition brings I am glad that the parade through the village has been secured and that Ballymaconnelley will again celebrate their 31st Annual parade. I would congratulate the band on all their hard work and effort and I would appeal to those who come to support the band to do so in a way that is mindful of such difficulties and be respectful of the wishes of the band for a peaceful and enjoyable evening,” said Mr Storey.
Commenting on the Parades Commission determination on the Ballymaconnelly Parade in Rasharkin, TUV Leader and North Antrim MLA Jim Allister said: “Permitting the parade to only go through the village on its outward leg and requiring it to return by ‘the country route’ is a sop to the protestors …
“Instead of standing up to those who last year threw golf balls and organised a hoax bomb, the Commission has rewarded them. No doubt, even that will not satisfy them as their mission is to keep the parade entirely out of the village.
“It is unnecessary and wrong that the traditional route up and back down the main street is being restricted.
“It is imperative this year that the policing presence is adequate to prevent the disruptive planting of a hoax device.
“Likewise … protestors must be retained within an allocated area and not allowed to spill onto the main road whereby they bring their … antics closer to the passing parade. I have already made representations to the PSNI Commander on these issues.”
Mayor of Ballymoney, Councillor Ian Stevenson (DUP) has called for “calm and cool heads on all sides, ahead of the forthcoming Ballymaconnelly parade in Rasharkin on Friday night”.
He has called for people to be “restrained and not to react or provoke reaction and to use the lawful channels available to deal with issues of concern.”
He also stated: “It is, and has always been possible, to have a peaceful parade and protest and is my sincere hope and prayer that commonsense will prevail on the night. We only have one life and we can either make the world better or worse. It is my hope that people will step back and look at what sort of world they wish to live in. It is my prayer that all will pass peacefully, and firm belief that hatred and intolerance is never the answer, from wherever it comes.”
Ballymoney DUP councillor, John Finlay, hit out at the Parades Commission after placing restrictions on the Annual Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors Band parade.
He said that this ruling prevented the band from walking its traditional route and that it would be viewed as a “reward for violence and thuggery”.
He also stated that the Parades Commission was “pandering to Republican objectives in the village which is to chase and bully Protestants’ out of Rasharkin”.
Cllr Finlay said: “I am outraged at this ruling by the Parades’ Commission who once again are set on discriminating against members of the Protestant community. This decision yet again offers further evidence that this body needs to go and would have been better going last year when the proposals were on the table.
“Once again the organisers and competitors involved in this parade, which is a highlight for many of the year, have been banned from walking their return route in their own village.
“Last year we saw Republicans engage in thuggery, violence … as band members were delayed for several hours due to a security alert, whereby a device was left at the Orange Hall.
“The Parades Commission have shown themselves to once again pander to Republican demands despite their despicable behaviour last year, as in previous years.
“The Parades Commission is meeting and seeing through the objectives of Republican hoods in the village, which is to chase and bully Protestants out of the village.
“It was only a matter of weeks ago that a Protestant resident had his car destroyed by Republicans in an arson attack. This ruling is one which discriminates and condemns Protestants’ despite them having done nothing wrong.
“This ruling, amongst many others this summer, provides clear evidence that the Parades Commission needs to go. “Last year my party put forward proposals which would have seen this unelected quango go but due to the actions of a minority these proposals were unable to be put into effect. This would have seen this body quashed and common sense prevailing.”
Comment has also been made by local representatives following the banning of an Apprentice Boys parade from Sunnyside Drive in Rasharkin on Saturday.
Daithi McKay slammed an “over the top” policing operation in Rasharkin.
Mr McKay said that local people walking from Mass were prevented from getting home by a line of police officers.
Mr McKay said: “The police put in place a completely over the top policing operation tonight and members were clearly directed to move on everybody who was on the street including those standing outside their own homes. They also refused to allow those coming from Mass to return to their homes.”
He was critical of the police operation and said it “took no account of the impact upon the local community.”
Added Mr McKay: “In one instance two middle-aged men were outside one of the mens’ home, well away from the parade, and two TSG officers flanked them in a highly intimidatory manner.”
Added Mr McKay: “The parade itself stopped outside Sunnyside Drive, a clear breach of the Parades Commission determination and this incident must be reported to the Public Prosecution Service.”
Rasharkin Sinn Fein representative Laoi Aine Ni Pheacoig added: “The police hemmed in local people in the village tonight like animals, regardless if they were young or old, or interested in the parade or not. A number of local people were shoved and manhandled by officers for no reason other than wanting to return home or call to friends or relatives.
“Make no bones about it, this is a step back for relations between the community and the police in Rasharkin. We would rather have no police in the village on days like this if they are going to act like they’re in a riot situation,”
Councillor John Finlay praised the Rasharkin Apprentice Boys of Derry (ABOD) for the “dignity displayed on their return parade in Rasharkin amidst a serious display of Republican aggression.”
He said: “Members of the Rasharkin ABOD Club were subject to jeering, intimidation, shouting and abuse on their return by members of the Republican Community.
“I praise all those members of the Rasharkin Apprentice Boys of Derry Club for the dignity shown on their return parade back from Londonderry despite being subject to a wave of Republican aggression.
“Republicans behaved appallingly by shouting, jeering and intimidating local members of the ABOD Club. Their only reason for doing this was that these men were Protestants returning home from an enjoyable day in the Maiden City.
“The intimidation on display from Republicans was no more than a sectarian act and I do hope that the Parades Commission stand up and take note of this display of sectarian aggression.
“However, sadly, Protestants know only too well that this quango wasn’t established to protect and defend their right to walk on public roads that is why it must go once and for all.” said the local DUP councillor.
With many thanks to the: Ballymoney and Moyle Times for the original story.
The DUP said tonight on English News: “All the cliam’s about my party were untrue and unfounded” but my response is “I am very sorry to say she lied”.
Ms Foster said she would not ‘negotiate over the airwaves’
The Democratic Unionist Party leader has said she hopes to seal a deal on supporting Theresa May’s minority government “sooner rather than later”.
After meeting the prime minister in Downing Street, Arlene Foster said discussions were “going well” and she hoped for a “successful conclusion”.Apparently a final meeting to approve the deal is set for Wednesday.
But ex-Conservative PM Sir John Major said he was “dubious” about the idea and its impact on the peace process.
The Conservatives are having to rely on the support of 10 DUP MPs after they fell eight seats short of winning an overall majority at the general election.
But Sir John told BBC World at One that if the party “locked” itself into a deal with one of the main parties in Northern Ireland, there was a danger the government would no longer be seen as an “impartial honest broker” in restoring the power-sharing arrangements and upholding NI institutions.
Peace in Northern Ireland should “not be regarded as a given”, said Sir John – whose government laid the foundations for the peace process in the 1990s – and nothing should be done to “exaggerate the differences” between the unionist and nationalist communities.
I am “concerned” about a deal with the DUP, says former prime minister Sir John Major
He urged Theresa May to consider governing on her own, saying this would not “carry the baggage” for the Conservatives that an arrangement with the DUP would.
Sir John suggested the DUP would be asking for money and that would be seen as the “government paying cash for votes in Parliament”, and would be received badly in other parts of the UK.
The agreement with the DUP is expected to be very different to the coalition deal agreed between the Conservatives and Lib Dems in 2010, with DUP politicians not getting cabinet jobs and their support for the majority of new legislation to be determined on a vote-by-vote basis.
The Secretary of State for the North of Ireland, James bronkenshire will not be accepted as impartial to the negiotions on restoring the North of IRELAND institutions. He has to go !!
Asked about Sir John’s comments during a trip to Paris, Mrs May said she was “absolutely steadfast” in her support for the 1998 Good Friday Agreement – which created the Northern of Ireland Assembly – and efforts to revive the power-sharing executive.
QMrs May, who has been holding talks with French President Emmanuel Macron on counter-terrorism and Brexit, said the “productive” talks with the DUP were about “giving stability to the UK government that is necessary at this critical time” ahead of the start of the Brexit process.
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Conservative sources said “constructive” progress had been made in the talks and both sides were “working carefully through the paperwork” to complete the deal.
Mrs Foster told the BBC areas being discussed including Brexit, counter-terrorism and “doing what’s right for Northern Ireland in respect of economic matters”.
The BBC’s assistant political editor Norman Smith said the DUP was likely to demand money for investment in Northern Ireland and an end to austerity.
“At least someone got a landslide” – the PM’s comment was met with laughter
Sinn Fein, whose seven MPs will not take their seats in Westminster, said any deal must be approved by the Northern Ireland executive when it is back up and running.
“Any agreement reached with the DUP – financial or otherwise – cannot be to the detriment of anyone else in our society,” said Belfast West MP Paul Maskey.
Earlier in the Commons, as MPs gathered for the first time since the election, Jeremy Corbyn congratulated Mrs May on “returning as PM” and said he “looked forward to this Parliament, however short it may be”.
The Labour leader joked that he welcomed the prospect of a Queen’s Speech once this “coalition of chaos has been negotiated”, but said if this did not happen, he was “ready to offer strong and stable leadership in the national interest”.