Saturday 18 November 2017

Eoghan Harris: Reconciliation requires more than cosmetic handshakes

Eoghan Harris

Eoghan Harris

DREW Nelson, Grand Secretary of the Orange Order, will address Seanad Eireann next Tuesday. As I listen, I will look back on my long relationship with the Order. Long enough to earn me the moral right to have reservations about that handshake.

Fourteen years ago, I was invited to speak to the Ballynafeigh Lodge in Belfast. It had taken me years to win that trust. But to most of my colleagues, it merely emphasised my eccentric belief that the Orange Order was as Irish as the Gaelic Athletic Association -- which was still operating the ban.

Drumcree drowned out any chance of me getting a hearing. In Dublin, distinguished journalists were mocking Orangemen with "chamber pots on their heads". Racist jibes about Afrikaners filled the airwaves.

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