Unfortunately, the News Letter’s website isn’t the most navigable, so I haven’t yet been able to find a link to the big spread the Voice of Bigotry did on Saturday morning on the theme of how God’s Wee Ulster was being steadily de-Orangeised. Bro Nelson’s main complaint, among many, was that the DUP had failed to secure as part of the St Andrew’s talks the Loyal Orders’ statutory right to have coat-trailing marches in areas where they weren’t wanted. And that really is what the Orangemen mean by the “right to march” – anybody with the misfortune to live in a Protestant area will be well aware that Orange marches are far from being an endangered species.
Bro Nelson, though, had a few other strings to his bow. There was an entirely predictable gripe about the promised Irish Language Act, which the Prodocracy seem to think will be the end of civilisation, while conversely the luvvie wing of Sinn Féin Nua are almost orgasmic with expectation. I do wish people would have a look at what the Welsh Language Act has (or hasn’t) achieved before getting their knickers in a twist about legislation which could well be a good deal weaker.
One notable thing was that Bro Nelson got fairly stuck into the new Sexual Orientation Regulations. Unionism is on a bit of a homophobic binge over this harmless bit of legislation, which for some perplexing reason it sees as specifically “anti-Protestant”. In the debate on the regulations in the Transitional Assembly it was noticeable how the 39-39 tied vote broke down. In favour of equality were the SDLP, the Provos, Alliance and the late David Ervine. Opposed were the DUP, the OUP and, with supreme bathos, Paul “Sports Massage” Berry. Not a single representative of mainstream unionism was prepared to accept that the gay community had a right to equal treatment. This was carried over into the House of Lords debate, where the assault on the regulations was led by the DUP’s Maurice Morrow (surely proof that Mr Tony will dish them out to anybody).
There has been some discussion on this blog about whether unionism is necessarily sectarian. This poses the interesting question – is unionism capable of comprehending the concept of equality? You see, it is possible to imagine an ideal non-sectarian unionism. The “civic unionism” touted around the op-ed pages by the Cadogan Group and Cream Bun McCartney, with its copious references to the “modern” and “multicultural” UK state in opposition to the “backward” Banana Republic, is of this ilk. But when you take a look at actually existing unionism, the picture is a lot less pretty. Bro Nelson’s view that equal rights for gays is anti-Protestant seems of a piece with Cllr Ruth Patterson’s statement after the anti-Chinese pogrom in South Belfast that the Chinese were compromising the “Protestant character” of the area.
I also look forward to seeing what Steven King and Jeff Dudgeon have to say on the matter. After all, it’s not for nothing that these boys have propagandised so fervently for “civic unionism”. Speak up! All those closeted gays in the Orange need all the moral support they can get.