THIS STORY HAS SINCE BEEN UPDATED. FOR THE LATEST VERSION SEE GRAFFITI PUBLISHED MONDAY 14th JANUARY.
Sectariansim in the Republic: Driving past a small orange hall in a rural part of County Monaghan near Tydavnet last night (Saturday) the car headlights revealed what can only be described as an act of sectarian abuse. Two words “F**K YOU” had been painted on the gable wall and came up very clearly in the car headlights. The orange hall is used infrequently but is one of several small ones remaining since partition. Members of the Orange Order from County Monaghan can often be seen parading in Northern Ireland and I have seen them on several occasions taking part in the main parade in Belfast.
Going back to visit the scene in daylight hours, the offensive slogan was not as apparent, depending on what angle you looked at it. But the wall showed signs of previous acts of graffiti having been painted out. Sadly, this is not the first time the building has been targeted. Damage was done to the windows and front door in 2005, when a nearby hall in Glaslough was also attacked. At the time, the Orange Order called on President McAleese to condemn the attacks. Some time later, she visited Brakey orange hall near Bailieborough in County Cavan, which had been damaged and repaired. It is worth quoting from her speech on that occasion:
“It is possible to be both Irish and British, possible to be both Orange and Irish. We face into a landscape of new possibilities and understandings. The momentum of these times is, of course, difficult for some and so they lash out in intemperate acts of vandalism that have been visited on some Orange Halls, including Brakey. Such acts are a throw-back to another time, and we condemn them utterly and unequivocally”.
Across the nearby border in Northern Ireland several rural orange halls have been attacked and burned down. Attacks on the orange order and its members are often carried out in a tit-for-tat retaliation for something the other (green) side disapproves of. In this case, one explanation might be the ongoing row involving loyalists protesting over the restrictions placed on the flying of the union flag at Belfast City Hall. Leading politicians from North and South will meet in Belfast next Thursday to discuss the situation. In the meantime, I expect politicians of all shades in the Republic will be united in condemning another apparent attack on the minority community in Monaghan.
Hopefully action will be taken to remove the offensive and unwanted graffiti. It does not reflect the sentiment of the majority community locally. Tydavnet and other parts of Monaghan generally have very good relations between Catholics and Protestants. Members from both religions turn up at each other’s church services such as funerals or weddings. At a funeral Mass this morning local priest Fr Sean Clerkin spoke about value and respect for people. Sadly there are some people out there who do not think those sentiments are important. Sectarianism south of the border reared its ugly head a year after the Good Friday agreement was signed when Ian Paisley’s Free Presbyterian church at Coragarry, Drum in County Monaghan was targeted. Unfortunately it still seems to be with us.