Mere handshakes would not 'wipe away the tears'
SPEECHES:A HANDSHAKE – “no matter how well photographed” – would not “wipe away the tears or bring back those loved ones”, the deputy grand master of the Orange Order told the crowd at the Ballynahinch Twelfth of July demonstration in Co Down yesterday.
In a reference to the meeting of Queen Elizabeth and Martin McGuinness, Rev Alistair Smyth said such gestures did not indicate “repentance of those who perpetrated such vile deeds”. It was good the queen had visited Dublin last year, “heralding the dawning of better relationships”, he said.
The former grand master of Scotland, Ian Wilson, said he had “bile in his throat” watching the Queen and the North’s Deputy First Minister exchange greetings.
Addressing a Twelfth gathering at Broughshane, Co Antrim, he added: “Yet, this was a humiliating surrender by Sinn Féin . . . a public admission that all the years of murder and mayhem had been for nothing.”
Orange grand master Edward Stevenson said the Protestant community was “more confident” than of old, in a strongly worded address at Castlederg, Co Tyrone. Saying he was “intensely proud” to be a Tyrone man, he said Orangemen in Border areas had faced the threat of “republicans, who were intent on genocide”.
“During the Troubles, we had 336 members murdered,” he said, “almost entirely by republicans”.
Protestants had “been through a lot” but had “come out the other end as a stronger people. We are proud of our traditions and we no longer apologise for them,” he said.