`Turncoat' Blair cited as threat to Orangeism


THE "bleak" prospect of a future British prime minister married to a "Romanist" was raised at the field at the end of the Belfast Orange parade.

The reference to Ms Cherie Blair, wife of the British Labour leader, came from the County Grand Master, Mr Robert Saulters, in a speech on the eternal theme of the threats to Protestantism and Orangeism.

Speaking of the "gutless men in Westminster", he said Mr Blair had "already sold his birthright by marrying a Romanist and serving Communion in a Roman Catholic Church. He would sell his soul to the devil himself. He is not loyal to his religion. He is a turncoat. The future looks bleak".

Mr Saulters was critical of the loyalist rioters who caused havoc across the North during the week, saying they had "dragged the good name of Orangeism through the dirt".

The keynote address at the rally was delivered by the Ulster Unionist leader, Mr David Trimble.

In a subdued and reflective speech, Mr Trimble defended the Orange Order. He said it had played a vital role in preventing a descent into anarchy by not allowing "hooligans and people with their own agendas" taking control of the loyalist cause.

Mr Trimble accused the British government of "a litany of retreat, surrender and concessions".

He said the IRA's threat of violence had not diminished and that the situation at Drumcree and the Ormeau Road were "or chest rated by Sinn Fein/IRA as an attack on our heritage and culture".

RUC management, Mr Trimble said, had been "incompetent" in failing to predict the dangers of trying to ban the Orange demonstration at Drumcree. The force, he said, had "lost its best brains" in the helicopter crash at the Mull of Kintyre three years ago in which 26 police and British military intelligence personnel were killed.

The RUC Chief Constable, he said, had "surrounded himself by `yes' men".