LOL 821 St Simon's Church Total Abstinence from the Sandy Row may complain against Ulster Unionist leader Tom Elliot and minister for Regional Development for attending Constable Ronan Kerr's Requiem Mass in April. However, the majority of people in Northern Ireland were pleased to see representatives of all our parties attending such a funeral that led to a public outpouring of grief and outrage. As you can see from the picture below there was cross party support, with Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle on the left, thier MP Naomi Long just behind me and the SDLP's Conall McDevitt and DUP's Jim Wells side by side on the right.
|Copyright © Kevin Cooper Photoline|
The UUP leadership rather than showing political expediency as stated by the Sandy Row Lodge were actually reflecting the public mood, something that maybe the Orange Order would do well to reflect on. A funeral for someone who was serving the whole community and was murdered in cold blood should be attended by all our political leaders.
The Catholic Church lifted their restrictions on members attending other churches in the 60s to enable this to happen. I've even been to an Ordination of a new minister in Donegal at which the local catholic priest not only attended but took part. Yet the Orange Order still on paper ban their members from attending a service in a Catholic Church, even if it is a funeral. So work colleagues, friends or in this case brave police officers cannot be given the respect they deserve as human beings by Orange Order members giving their respects. They do not have to take part in the service or partake in the Mass, but merely have to sit there and they are seen as traitors.
It is time for the Orange Order to catch up with the rest of us in Northern Ireland and realise that attending a funeral isn't going to change someones political stance, but is merely how we pay respects to those who have lost their lives, their family and friends.