ORANGE Order director of services Dr David Hume, at the Garvagh Twelfth gathering, called for unionists and nationalists to engage in a period of re-evaluation of the past and its legacy.

Noting that several major centenary anniversaries will begin from 2012 and the anniversary of the Ulster Covenant, and conclude with the centenary of the formation of Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State, Dr Hume said that there should be an honest appraisal of the legacy of the Home Rule period for everyone.

�There will be major anniversaries over the next few years in relation to the history of Ulster, of Northern Ireland and of Ireland and the British Isles generally. All of these give us an opportunity to explore what happened, what motivated people, and what we can learn from it all.
�It will be a time of re-evaluation. It can be a time of reconciliation,� he said.

The Orange Order official said that unionists had to remember that a legacy of the period was that not all those who signed the Covenant in 1912 were afforded secured positions within the Union.

�The lost unionist communities of the Irish Free State are testimony to that. People felt let down. People were subsequently intimidated, bullied, some murdered, because of their unionism.

Yet today the descendants of these people still feel culturally British,� he added.

Dr Hume called on the government of the Republic of Ireland to �afford opportunities to recognise their identity in the years ahead and explore that identity with them�.

�Unionists must also consider the stewardship which they provided within the UK. Lord Carson warned of the dangers of placing one community in control of another, as he did not feel it was the best situation for Ulster.

Was he right? Was it inevitable that problems would arise? Or was it that the only way Ulster could have been secured was by placing its security in the hands of its own people?

�Or was it because London wanted to extricate itself from the problem? Maybe we were not perfect in our governance and our stewardship. We are nothing if not an honest people. We need to be honest about these things,� he said.

Published date on the 13th of July 2010
Article taken from the The News Letter