Orange mob held up funeral cortege for 10 hours, says undertaker

 

A CO Armagh undertaker has said an Orange mob blockading Belfast international airport held up a funeral cortege for 10 hours during the Drumcree stand off.

Mr Bernard O'Hanlon, a funeral director from Mullaghbawn, complained in a letter in yesterday's unionist News Letter that he and 16 relatives, including an elderly sister of the deceased, were "imprisoned by a mob of 1,500 Orangemen".

The cortege was unable to get to an evening service scheduled for 9 p.m. on Monday, July 9th, and did not manage to get away from the airport until 5 the next morning.

He said that at the time, rather than feeling angry at the Orangemen, he experienced "fear, naked fear".

Mr O'Hanlon said those accompanying the hearse, including a priest, were frightened of being identified as Catholic.

"I am ashamed to say that I had to remove the crucifix from the coffin lid and another emblem. The Catholic priest's collar was also removed and hidden."

He continued. "On approaching the roadblock I was surprised that it was not the police lining the ditches, but some of the Orangemen on the road, who approached the hearse first.

"A clergyman with a sash was first to talk and in the circumstances was insensitive to the bereaved and their ordeal, brought about by his actions and those he represents.

"He wished to know the name of the deceased not a very helpful contribution to our plight. To the policemen present I commented. What sort of country does he think he lives in?

"There was indecision. The boys at the front line might now allow all the cortege through. We returned to the safety of the airport."

Mr O'Hanlon said that Orangemen seemed to enjoy putting the fear of God into the Fenians, Taigs, the hated nationalists, the Papish lower class".

He concluded his letter. "These times are the worst. Poor misguided people, rioting, burning, egged on by attention seeking `Orange' politicians, each strutting to get the biggest share of loyalist attention.

"Remember 1690, the Battle of the Somme, the Siege of Drumcree so what? (The hearse driver's father fought in the Somme, his ear eaten off by rats, his feet froze in ice lying in the trenches.)"