REG EMPEY AND GANDHI SET FOR THE GARVAGHY
World exclusive by Articles
Articles can exclusively reveal that world famous actor Ben Kingsley has said YES to re-creating his role of Mahatma Gandhi and YES to leading a peace march down the Garvaghy Road, Portadown. This latest initiative to end the long running Drumcree dispute is the brainchild of Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey who hopes to score a knockout blow in his titanic make or break election battle with the DUP’s Reverend Willie McCrea for the constituency of South Antrim
Articles can exclusively divulge that the idea came to light in a document mistakenly left on a Stormont photocopier. An embarrassed spokesman for Sir Reg initially denied its existence but later called back to confirm its authenticity. Sir Reg Empey himself refused to comment immediately but invited Articles to a press conference to be held Monday of next week.
Sir Reg Empey sets out his proposals in a memorandum addressed to fellow unionist Harry Hamilton, the Freddie Mercury impersonator, who is standing for election in Upper Bann, the constituency in which Drumcree near Portadown is located. Empey speculates as to the possible reaction of key players, emphasises the need to massage public opinion in advance and ends with this appeal to Mr Hamilton “If we want to end this impasse, we cannot be impassive, we have to be imaginative, we have to be creative, we have to break free.”
In detail, the proposal envisages Sir Ben Kingsley dressed as Gandhi hand in hand with Sir Reg Empey and Harry Hamilton together with the Grand Master of the Portadown Loyal Orange Lodge leading a small procession of Orangemen down the Garvaghy Road singing a peace song the chorus of which runs:
“We’re going Gandhi
Down the Garvaghy
With Sir Reg Empey
And Freddie Mercury
It’s a kinda of magi….c”
The vision continues… “The massed Garvaghy Road residents will part allowing the Orangemen to walk through and then fall in beside them singing from the same sheet. The whole drama to unfold in the absence of any security forces in the anticipation - carefully choreographed beforehand - that all parties merely wish to bring the present dispute to an end and start afresh and that there are to be no winners and no losers.”
Reaction on the ground was immediate and mixed. A spokesman for Portadown Loyal Orange Lodge said “Gandhi you say - which Gandhi is that then, where’s he from ..Delhi? ah LondonDelhi you mean. But seriously if you’re asking me whether our reaction would be positive then the answer is yes. We are determined to walk the Garvaghy Road, if Empey can fix it and this fellow Gandhi wants to come along too, then we’re right behind them”
Breandan Mac Cionnaith of the Garvaghy Road Resident’s Coalition was more guarded and recalled memories of David Trimble and the Reverend Ian Paisley dancing a jig. “We’ve been through too much to let them (the Orange Order) through just like that. I’d have to be convinced of their sincerity. Perhaps if the Orangemen forgot their suits and sashes for the day and dressed up like Gandhi - OK they could keep their bowler hats and their umbrellas - just so that the symbolism is clear to all, well we could possibly run with that.”
Meanwhile Mr Hamilton refused to take my call. A spokesman claimed not to know of the document’s existence raising the possibility that the Freddie Mercury impersonator has disassociated himself already from what is the latest in a long line of political initiatives from the ever creative Ulster Unionist leader and strategist.
Sir Reg Empey’s opponent in South Antrim, the Reverend Willie McCrea, was less reticent “He can’t sing, he can’t dance and he can’t find a seat. It doesn’t matter where this fellow runs for election; East Belfast, Upper Bann in the future or South Antrim this time around, the good unionist people of Ulster will not vote him in.”
Last night, the final word fell to Mr. Kingsley who speaking from his London home said “I am willing to do anything I can to help bring peace to a troubled community.”
And for those readers puzzled by the word “raji” the Ulster Scots Agency confirms that it is Ullans for great news.