Friday, 14 September 2012

Greens question value of giving Orange Order Freedom of City

Following a recent Lisburn City Council motion to grant the Orange Order the freedom of the city, the Lagan Valley Greens are questioning the value of this proposal, as brought forward by Councillor Paul Givan.

The Green Party in Northern Ireland is the only party that has not been formed in response to the religious divide or the troubles. The Green Party has no agenda to promote the interests of one community over another. This means it is the only party that is able to see the motion to grant the Freedom of the City of Lisburn to the Orange Order for what it really is - a poorly timed waste of precious council money and resources at a time when most families, businesses and individuals are feeling the pinch from the more pressing concerns of the economy. It seems like pointless politics.

Serious questions must be answered. How much time and money has already been spent debating this issue? What would the cost be of staging a gala event should the bid be successful? Is this something that the Orange Order itself welcomes, given the level of controversy it has already generated?

Lisburn does not need this kind of PR for its people, and for its businesses that attract custom from all across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Lisburn should not be seen as the last bastion of the deadlocked days of the past.

Any gesture of granting the Freedom of the City should reflect the kind of city that the council has promoted in its slogans - to make Lisburn a "city for life". If the real aim is to honour an organisations that have helped the community, why not honour Lisburn’s healthcare workers, voluntary groups and charities which have done so much to enrich the community? Lisburn’s Lagan Valley also has a rich history of great and philanthropic individuals to celebrate, such as Professor Frank Pantridge.

This controversial move, timed as it was to coincide with yet more parade related unrest, seem all the more illogical. The Green Party in Northern Ireland is firmly against a return to the days of single issue politics. Everyone is welcome to peaceably express their cultural identity, but this motion does not seem to offer much to the Orange Order, or the people of Lisburn, except bad publicity. We cannot afford the costs of what seems to be a naive attempt at increasing political clout.

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