I had to laugh at the sheer effrontery of the Orange Order leadership castigating a group of their members singing an absolutely vicious diatribe of a song besmirching the memory of Michaela McAreavey.
She was the young Tyrone woman murdered on her honeymoon in January 2011 when she interrupted a robbery in her bedroom at the Legends Hotel in Mauritius.
Michaela’s death sent shockwaves far and wide. She was the extremely popular daughter of famed football coach Mickey Harte who had led Tyrone to stunning All-Ireland victories. She was a schoolteacher and a committed anti-alcohol abuse campaigner as well as her dad’s biggest fan, attending every Tyrone game with him.
All of Ireland, north and south, mourned the shocking death of a young bride on what should have been the most wonderful week of her life.
Not some folks in the Orange Order, however. They apparently composed a song mocking Michaela, and last week a video of a group of young Orange men showed them singing it. Their “performance” was Facebooked live.
Avert your eyes if you wish, but here are the lyrics, full of misogyny, hatred and bile.
“She went to her room to get a wee treat; something **** strangers she did meet; they hammered and they hammered and they bate her about; John McArevey (sic; her newlywed husband) never gave her a shout; round and round and up and down; through the streets of Ballygawley town.”
Here they are again!
"She went to her room to get a wee treatJune 2, 2022
Something **** strangers she did meet
They hammered & they hammered & they bate her about
John mcarevey never gave her a shout.
Through the streets of ballygawley town"
The words are hideous beyond belief, but what is left unanswered is who wrote them, and when and where they were first sung. It is quite clear from the video the lyrics were well-known.
The shock and horror exhibited by the Orange Order leadership is as phony as a $3 bill. The thugs singing it were not the first to do so.
It seems perfectly plausible the “song” has been sung for years by Orangemen sitting in their citadels, burnishing their hatred for Catholics.
It shows the depth of ignorance and bigotry that still courses through hard-line unionism. The fact that the Orange Order leadership, who I’d bet a dollar to a dime had heard the song before, never put a stop to it or banned it from its halls tells you all you need to know.
The singers who have since received death threats are now furiously apologizing through a lawyer. They reiterated their “complete shame and regret for their involvement in the incident.”
They insisted there was no intent to broadcast the chant on social media and it was “incidentally streamed” on Facebook Live.
That is completely irrelevant. The fact that they were singing a hate-filled song with gusto is all you have to know.
The self-pity in their statement and attempt to deflect blame is ludicrous.
“This is becoming a public witch hunt, inclusive of repeated death threats, and there is a growing social media mob who appear to have lost all grip on reality,” the statement added. “It is time now to draw a line under this vile incident and allow any investigations to take their course.
“In any event, regardless of whether broadcast or not, the relevant behavior is not acceptable in any section of our society either in public or private.”
The police are investigating, but so is the Orange Order. I can’t wait for the Orange whitewash.
*This column first appeared in the June 8 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.