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As a young man living in Belfast, my father, born into the Church of Ireland, used to play the bagpipes in a “kiltie” band as well as the banjo in a local version of the Black and White Minstrels. Each year, he would take part as a piper in the Twelfth of July celebrations but he was never an Orangeman or in any sense a religious bigot. He got on with everybody, including Father Murphy, a Catholic priest he would meet for lunch every Saturday in the Tea Cosy Grill.
Which is not to say he wasn’t conflicted. During the Ulster Workers’ Strike in 1974, aimed at bringing down the original power-sharing executive at Stormont, he was simultaneously a member of the non-sectarian Alliance Party and a press officer for the strikers. When David Blundy, a journalist pal of mine (later shot dead in El Salvador) called him up during the stoppage in the hope of getting some inside information