Friday, 2 January 2015

Britain is a country which bestows honour on an old and deeply prejudiced Northern Irish Alderman called Maurice Turtle Mills

Ballymena is a large town in County Antrim with a population of 30,000 and the eighth largest in Northern Ireland and the seat of Ballymena Borough Council and Maurice is a seventy-four year old Alderman in the Protestant Democratic Unionist Party on that Council, who has been awarded an MBE for 'services for local government' in the Queen's New Year Honours List for 2015.          
Maurice first became an elected member at the age of 32 in 1972 and during his 43 years of service has served as 'Mayor' three times in 2007, 2008 and 2010 and 'Deputy Mayor' on 10 occasions between 1979 and 2006. Having said that, Maurice hasn't come cheap and in the financial year 2009-10, his £19,916 in expenses at £383 per week, was the second highest claim after the Mayor among the 24 councillors, with the Independent member, James Henry chalking up a modest £9,738 by comparison.
Due to retire in March this year, he said: “I don’t see this honour as being for myself – rather I see it as an honour for the Borough and for local government and the recognition of the role it has to play in the affairs of our country.”
As a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Maurice will join an order of knighthood first instituted in 1917 by King George V, when Britain still had an Empire, for 'meritorious service to the government in peace as well as for gallantry in wartime.' There are five classes within the order and Maurice has been awarded the lowest and will therefore not be a full knight with the title of 'Sir'.
It is astonishing to note, however, that in recommending Maurice for an honour, the Honours Secretariate at the First Minister's Office in Belfast has taken no cognizance of his political and religious views and have stuck only to his service to the community.

To the Office, it has been of no importance that Maurice :
* back in 2000, objected to Ballymena Council writing to the film actor Liam Neeson, who was born in the town in 1952 and had just been awarded the honour of an OBE, to offer him the 'Freedom of the Borough' on the grounds that he was quoted as saying in an American magazine that he had felt "second class" as a Catholic boy growing up in the mainly Protestant town and felt he had to stay indoors during the loyalist July 12 Commemoration of the Battle of the Boyne. 

* told 'BBC Radio Ulster' that he felt DUP leader and North Antrim MP, Ian Paisley and the disbanded Ulster Special Constabulary, the 'B Specials', should be honoured instead with :  "There has been no due recognition of Mr Paisley and the Ulster Special Constabulary by the Council. Mr Neeson has vilified the people of this town and in particular the Protestant people of this town and he has also questioned the celebration of the 12th of July. I don't think someone who expressed words such as that could be described as one of the leading 'Sons of Ballymena'."

* said in 2005, that Hurricane Katrina, which killed 1,300 people, was 'God’s revenge' for the planned annual gay pride event called 'Southern Decadence' and “The media failed to report that the hurricane occurred just two days prior to the annual homosexual event called the Southern Decadence festival which the previous year had attracted an estimated 125,000 people.”

* had his comments prompt gay rights activists stage a protest in Ballymena in early 2006 and demand that he apologise, but refused to retract his comments and saw his party, the DUP resist calls to condemn them with him saying : “There is a principle at stake here and that is homosexuality is a sin before Almighty God” and “If I were to apologise for my comments then God would have to apologise.”

  * also blamed the spread of Aids in Africa on gay people with : “This abominable and filthy practice of sodomy has resulted in the great continent of Africa being riddled with Aids.” 
* was said by NIGRA's President, P. A. MagLochlainn, that he did not adhere to the “true British spirit” of tolerance for others and that Jesus never condemned homosexuality and he had misread the Bible.
* hit back at MagLochlainn, claiming that men would be judged by God for their sins : “What an executor Christ will be on that awesome day. Christ alone died for my sins on Calvary’s cross and my personal faith exercised in His finished work upon that cross and by the cleansing of His precious blood I have the assurance of sins forgiven and peace with God.”
* has his local paper in his pocket with :
 Alderman Mills has courted controversy in his long career in local politics but was always known at a local level as a hard-working community representative with a keen appreciation of the need to keep in touch with the party’s grass roots.”

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