Gnashing of teeth after Orangemen compared to ‘cannibals’

Belfast archive 1993: Angry Orange Order demanded Northern secretary eat his words

Northern Ireland secretary Sir Patrick Mayhew and  Tánaiste Dick Spring. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Northern Ireland secretary Sir Patrick Mayhew and Tánaiste Dick Spring. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Northern secretary Patrick Mayhew was berated by the Orange Order at a private meeting in Belfast in 1993 after he said the behaviour of Orangemen on the Lower Ormeau Road the previous July “would have disgraced a race of cannibals”.

Details of the exchanges between Mayhew and the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland are contained in files released by the Public Record Office in Belfast.

At a meeting in January 1993, John McCrea, the County Grand Master of Belfast, said Mayhew’s “cannibals” remark had been “felt very sorely”, particularly by those trying to control the situation at the time.

Mayhew had criticised the behaviour of marchers who, when passing the Sean Graham’s bookmakers shop where five Catholics were killed by Loyalist gunmen in February 1992, shouted “up the UFF” and gave two-fingered salutes.

Responding to McCrea’s complaints, Mayhew said there had been enormous offence given by a few of the marchers and he had been “horrified” when he had watched a video of their actions. The secretary of state said he stood by his comments. “People in Northern Ireland spoke their minds and he intended to do likewise.”