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ireland, irish, ulster, ireland, irish, ulster, Sinn Féin, Irish America

Time to put the Sash in Seanad

(John Coulter, Irish Daily Star)

Praise the Lord for the sensible Southern voters who made the wise, but narrow, decision to keep their much-loved Seanad Eireann. If Fine Gael Taoiseach King Kenny is smart, he will cover up his red face at the kick in the teeth from the Irish polls by filling any reformed Seanad with Northern Unionists.

Poor Kenny had his crown dented when he urged voters to dump the 90-year old upper house in the Irish Parliament. For once, too, the Shinners also backed the wrong political horse as its supporters ignored the abolition call.

Maybe Sinn Féin could deflect a lot of the heat from its heavily under fire president, the Louth TD Gerry Adams, by suggesting Unionists of all shades be offered Seanad seats as part of a 'hands across the border' peace plan that would be worthy of Yank guru Ricky Haass.

Many Unionists have spent the past week trying to talk their way out of the senior Orangeman's call for civil disobedience and many 'born-again' Christian Orange members are talking about dumping the Order in disgust.

The Order has hundreds of members in the Republic, and even Orange seats in the Seanad would be a perfect solution to the parades crisis as it would open up a second, responsible front.

Seanad Orange brethren could use their Dáil muscle to put pressure on Leinster House to lean on Northern nationalist residents' groups to allow one-off marches in Ardoyne and Drumcree.

Opponents of the Seanad say the 20 million euro annual price tag is too much. In sterling terms, that's about £16.92 million well spent if only the Orange Order could march politically sensibly rather than suffering from 'Foot in Mouth' disease.

Remember that figure – 16.92 – 1692 was the year the Orange forces cemented their Glorious Revolution in Ireland and ensured the power of the Protestant Ascendancy for generations to come. Maybe this vote is a sign from God?

After all, the Orange Order in the Southern border counties of Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan and Leitrim have a tremendous reputation for positive leadership in their communities.

This should be rewarded by King Kenny giving Orangemen from these counties of the Republic having Seanad seats.

London and Dublin know how to back the Order into a political corner, and equally importantly how to manipulate the Order to divide, rather than unite Unionism.

The last time the Order embarked on a campaign of civil disobedience was in 1986 to protest against the signing of the November 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement between Garret FitzGerald and Maggie Thatcher.

In March 1986, the Order was an integral part of the so-called Day of Action, which was hijacked by the loyalist death squads, particularly the UDA, as a day of street protests quickly descended into widespread disorder and rioting.

The second big Ulster Still Says No rally at Belfast City Hall also turned violent as loyalist looters attacked their own supporters and the police.

With every agreement since 1985, the Republic has enjoyed an ever-growing influence over Northern affairs.

But Unionists have been denied their right to have an effective say in the running of the 26 Counties.

If the Orange Order cannot act responsibly in the North at parade flashpoints, then perhaps the Southern County Lodges should lead by example, campaign for Seanad seats, and form an Irish Unionist Party.

Perhaps the long-term effect will be to persuade the Shinners to take their Westminster seats.

After all, Sinn Féin has taken its seats in every other body to which it has been elected. PS, Dear Enda, can I have a Senate seat, too, please?

October 21, 2013
________________

This article appeared in the October 14, 2013 edition of the Irish Daily Star.

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