Last week, between eight and ten viable bomb devices were discovered in St Joseph’s parochial hall in Dunloy. This is an alarming development which increases tension in the village and places a further strain on community relations. However, unless I have missed something, it seems to me that there has been a deafening silence from the Roman Catholic Church on this serious matter, and very little interest from the law enforcement agencies and the media.
Contrast this with the obsession over the behaviour of Protestant bands in Belfast this summer. Roman Catholic priests and others complained about how offended and hurt they were by a band walking round in a circle outside a closed church on 12th July, and by bands playing hymns too loudly or banging their drums too enthusiastically as they passed Roman Catholic churches on other occasions. In an apparent desire to respond sympathetically to such sensitivities, the police have now acted robustly by arresting eleven members of the flute band which played outside the closed church. The media continues to take a close interest in all of this, and some sections of the nationalist media have described the behaviour of the bands as “outrageous”.
However, the Protestant community in Ulster regards the treatment of its marching bands as an outrageous attack on its heritage and its liberties. And is it not strange that there should be so much obsession with bands and their music while a blind eye is turned to the use of a church hall to store devices designed to kill and maim? As an Orangeman, I am prevented from marching in Dunloy every year because, in the eyes of Sinn Fein and their friends, my marching is sectarian. In Republican eyes, is a peaceful Orange march a greater crime than the storing of illegal and lethal bombs in a parochial hall?
There is a palpable sense of anger within the Protestant community at the present time, and it will continue to grow unless the law is enforced fairly and impartially. It is therefore imperative that swift action is taken by the Roman Catholic authorities and the police to investigate the presence of bombs in the parochial hall in Dunloy. There are many questions which require an answer. For example, I would be interested to know whether hall key-holders have been identified and questioned by the church or the police. I would also be interested to know what general progress the police have made to date and whether they intend to make any arrests. We are watching and waiting. And we not only want answers, we want results.
Councillor John Finlay