The Orange Order and Scottish Independence

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The recent Orange Order parade in Glasgow, which featured an estimated 4500 marchers and a similar number of spectators, resulted in the usual disruption and finger-pointing. Eighteen people were arrested for offences related to drinking, disorder and other minor offences, although Grand Lodge of Scotland representatives and Police Chief Superintendent Andy Bates noted it was those watching rather than those taking part who earned police attention. It was noted that many of those taking part carried pro-Union/anti-independence banners and the Grand Lodge has restated its intention to hold a major march in Edinburgh on 13th September under its ‘British Together’ campaign banner. Indeed, the Order’s campaign group has recently registered with the Electoral Commission as a permitted participant, a signal of intent as we move in on September.

The Order sustained severe criticism in the wake of the Glasgow parade after 12-year-old Kellsie Lynch was left with an injury to her head as a result of being hit by a bottle thrown as part of a fight on Glasgow Green involving other spectators. Family members understandably called for the marches to be banned, prompting the Daily Record to run a poll seeking readers’ views on the matter. Unsurprisingly, there were plenty of people who favoured such a course of action but this is the sort of knee-jerk reaction that can cause serious injury to a wider body of democratic rights. It has to be acknowledged that the marches have been disputed for almost two centuries and with each passing year it seems more unlikely that they will be received with the acceptance desired by those organising or taking part. Furthermore, they are undeniable disruptive: Taking our daughter to her swimming lesson recently we were stopped by a handful of lodges and loyalist bands marching along the Royal Mile. But the marches that go ahead are typically the product of agreements involving the police, local authorities and other stakeholders. In addition, as the current Grand Secretary highlighted following recent parades, the Order has trained 3000 stewards in a bid to improve the conduct of marches, particularly the much lamented ‘blue bag brigade’. This is hardly the action of a body happy to see ugly actions go unchallenged on the fringes of its own activities.

The planned march in September looms larger on the horizon, now looking like a key event on the pre-referendum calendar. As such, we ought to assess the motivations for staging a major march in such close proximity to the date of the referendum and also consider some of the likely consequences. First, it should be noted that organising such an event is consistent with responses to previous moments of political, cultural or religious significance. A march was held in 2007 to mark the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union and significant activity was planned to coincide with the Papal visit in 1982, although this failed to materialise on the scale imagined. Similarly, figures associated with the Order played a role in the creation of the Scottish Unionist Party in the late 1980s in response to what was perceived to be constitutional jiggery-pokery (the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985) on the part of the Thatcher Government.

Second, it is hard to believe there is not a strong urge within the ranks for a firm statement of position on the prospect of independence, even if we shouldn’t necessarily assume that all members will consider their religious and political outlooks to be naturally and harmoniously entwined. The leadership would surely be courting serious discontent, however, if it were to let the moment pass without some sort of intervention. Thus we read of the level-headed former Grand Master, Ian Wilson, now on the planning committee, restating the intention to hold the parade. It is also possible that a strategic eye has been turned to the two possible outcomes of the vote, with it being concluded that a march will serve a purpose either way. If there is a No vote, then there will be a boost to morale from the Order being seen, rightly or wrongly, to have played a role. A Yes vote, on the other hand, will be harder to recover from if there is a feeling it meekly succumbed. At least if things don’t go the way the majority of members probably hope, then the leadership can make some noise about fighting the good fight while the frantically try to work out where they stand in the new political landscape.

Whereas previously it was possible to detect a pragmatism about the Order’s ability to advance the pro-Union cause because of its poor public image, there is now a determination to press ahead with a high-profile display despite any opposition. Indeed, such opposition might just encourage entrenchment. Yes campaigners will almost certainly exploit the march and any associated bad behaviour or disruption in a bid to tarnish their No counterparts. Recent comment suggests the likely targets are well aware of this possibility. Figures associated with Better Together have strained to put some clear water between the official No campaign and what is ostensibly another pro-Union body made up of mainly working class members. Jim Murphy, for example, commented in the most unequivocal terms in an interview for with the Sunday Herald which was conducted before the latest parade controversy. He remarked: “Not for a moment would they be part of the Better Together campaign. They’d be unwelcome.” It is possible that the march might be underwhelming. Past examples indicate that the Order has sometimes struggled to muster the anticipated bodies on the streets, even though it is commonly held to be assertive – assertive to the point of provocative – in promoting its beliefs.

If anything, the demands of the independence campaign have only served to underline the Order’s estrangement from mainstream political unionism, despite the fantasies some independence supporters might entertain. Liam Clarke, writing recently in the Belfast Telegraph, examined how the Order in Northern Ireland was pulling the province’s unionist parties, including the UUP and DUP, into its orbit; a dynamic symbolised by a collective visit to Orange HQ at Holywood Arches. Clarke was left to conclude that the Order’s influence had grown to levels not seen since the period when Lord Brookeborough served at Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. If the Order across the water is wielding more clout in unionist circles than at any time since before start of the Troubles, most unionist politicians in Scotland are not inclined to get close enough to the Order to be able to determine whether or not it’s actually wielding anything at all.

 

  • Tugger

    Two days after the Glasgow Twelfth parade (eighteen arrests), twenty people were arrested after a brawl at a funeral in North Lanarkshire. When are we going to start banning funerals??

  • Devereux

    The march is being allowed in order to provoke Yes supporters and cause trouble. The aim is to put off don’t knows and play to the natural instinct of most Scots to eschew extremism in the run up to the vote. It is cynical and irresponsible and shameful. There is an argument for the union – but not if its supporters believe that tactics such as this are necessary.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Poor reporting on some parts, first of all there may well have been 4500 on parade but there were at least 4 times this many watching and to say there were 4500 is simply absurd and anyone who attends such parades knows how foolish this is.
    Training 3000 stewards is a positive move and better co-operation with the police to remove the BBB would also be useful as it would in NI.
    The ‘Better Together’ side need the Orange family which accounts for around 200,000 members between Orange/Band members, Apprentice boys and supporters. The problem is that many within this group are planning to vote no. Parades in Scotland have suffered heavily from regulations and with police officers parading with every lodge, the institution feel inhibited and their rights maybe better protected in an independent Scotland.
    I agree with the author that the leadership of the Orange should come out in support of the Union but also seek assurances that the rights of the Orange community will be better protected within the Union.

  • Tugger

    I marched in Glasgow and it’s the best organised and marshalled parade I’ve ever participated in. However, the aggressive, over the top police tactics makes it feel like you’re taking part in an EDL march rather than the family- orientated, religious procession and tourist attraction that it is.

  • the rich get richer

    There is bound to a certain amount of voters that may think that voting for independence may get them away from some of this sort of thing !

  • Mirrorballman

    “over the top police tactics makes it feel like you’re taking part in an EDL march”

    Could it be that the OO is viewed in a similar manor to the EDL by many people in Britain?

  • Tugger

    Wrongly.

  • Mirrorballman

    Perhaps! Though why do you think they have that perception of the OO?

  • Tugger

    Sectarian propaganda peddled by catholic fundamentalists, far-right extremist Irish Nationalists and the UK’s loony left.

  • Mirrorballman

    You really think that Irish nationalism has such an impact upon the views of the majority of British citizens? Do you think that the British are so stupid that they can’t see this organisation for exactly what it is? Silly Tugger……..

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Mirroballman,
    We have just had an article on Slugger highlighting exactly what the Orange is and this from many of its opponents, so what inside information do you have to the contrary?

  • Morpheus

    Yeah, it’s always someone else’s fault…the Parades Commission, SF, the media, residents, Republicans, Nationalists, Catholics, lack of toilet facilities at St Matthews, lack of toilet facilities at a parochial house in Limavady…

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/anger-after-loyalist-bandsmen-urinate-at-priests-home-in-limavady-30272511.html

    …lack of dance facilities at Patrick’s and so on and on and on and on. Have I missed anyone?

    Oh and I’m sure Joe will be along in a minute to tell you that you didn’t march in Glasgow, you paraded.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    There are members of the Orange family who feel their rights will be better protected in an independent Scotland.
    Are you saying that an independent Scotland will reduce or ban the expression of religious freedom?

  • A SAID WEE MAN

    The Orange Order have to be allowed join the debate and state their position as so far they have been sidelined by the current nationwide orgy of mutual masturbation between the chocolate intellectuals of the pro Indy campaign. It’s their country as well

  • Tugger

    There is a significant minority of the British public who are stupid/gullible enough to believe the MOPE agenda of Irish nationalists. I remember the standing ovation given to paedophile shelterer Gerry Adams at a Labour Party conference at the height of the IRA’s religious terrorism campaign….

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Those links you referred to relate to band members and not the Orange and in fact this article claims that it’s the hangers on and not the paraders who are the problem.
    I thought you were more tolerant Morpheus but you have returned very bitter indeed to Slugger.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Nonsense there is no threat from the Orange.

  • Morpheus

    Interesting. When you talk about numbers above it’s “we’re all in this together” and the 200k strong Orange family but when some people do something wrong they are on their own, Pontius Pilate style. :)

    But regardless,where did I say that I was talking about the OO Joe? I could easily just have been talking about the bands but good to know where your mind is at…

    PS. Had a great time, fully refreshed, not in the least bit bitter :)

  • eireanne

    Maybe Joe Hogg would like to clear up the confusion over walks/marches and parades. http://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/whens-a-parade-not-a-parade-when-its-an-orange-order-march/

  • rabigyin

    Does it take 15,000 of them to do it?

  • rabigyin

    Oh yeah?

  • rabigyin

    The Orange Order is so far removed from Christianity, it’s not true. When the bigots object to a Pharmacy sign simply because it’s a green cross………………………

  • Sergiogiorgio

    When people stop dyin’ Tuggs.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Joe – an independent Scotland will be a cold house for the OO. Where we not on here recently debating that the OO was anti-union in Scotland because you thought that would give you a fairer crack of the whip. In a forward thinking, socially inclusive independent Scotland I don’t like the chances of the OO.

  • Tugger

    And that was the entire membership of the Orange Order objecting, was it??

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    What else did you like about the parade Tugger?
    Did you find it charming the way people go nuts if you simply try to cross the road between breaks in the bands?
    What was your opinion on the religious services and church tents at Glasgow Green?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Nope.
    Don’t try that hogwash Tugger.
    I lived in Glasgow for a decade.
    Many of the people who hate the parade are ordinary Joe’s who are sick of the Old Firm violence and the hoo-haa that comes with the 12th parade.
    And I include ex-army, Protestants and unionists in that demographic, not just those who make your sh*t-list.
    A person really shouldn’t have to worry about the increased chances of being bottled/stabbed/assaulted because there is a ‘religious procession’ going on, but during the Glasgow 12th there is a real chance:
    “The Dalai Lama is leading thousands of Buddists in worship today in Glasgow Green.’
    “Really, I’d better put on my stab proof vest then…”
    Having said that, if you think the Glasgow parade is a decent parade then it explains why you see nothing wrong with the Belfast parade.
    Have you ever been to Rossnowlagh or Ballyronan for a 12th?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Did you head to the Louden afterwards for some civilised chat and ‘folk songs’ afterwards?

  • Joe_Hoggs

    If there were less you would say they had no support.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Yeah.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Sounds like an independent Scotland will be ran like a fascist state.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Am Ghobsmacht,
    The article proved that none of the participants were repsonsible for the violence. On top of that the Orange has taken action in Scotland to train 3000 stewards to aid parades further.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    I’m sorry you feel the need to leave NI but that is YOUR decision. This year we had one of the biggest and most peaceful Twelfths ever and you fail to recognise any of this.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Joe

    “The article proved that none of the participants were repsonsible for the violence

    Correct Joe.

    That wasn’t what I was implying.

    The Glasgow 12th, like some parades in NI acts as totem pole for some unsavoury elements to dance around, whoop aloud and glass people in the face

    It get’s the blood up in people (and alcohol levels).

    Glasgow is well known for its levels of drunkenness and violence, but the 12th takes it to another level.

    Ironically, I was working the door of one of the Irish bars in the city centre and attracted the attention of young gentlemen whom I remembered being at the parade that afternoon (I think they professed their local ‘team*’ and said team was from the area I lived in at the time, hence the memory trigger).

    Given that I have an Irish accent and was working in an Irish bar they could say with all the certainty of the wisdom that Buckfast bestows that I was indeed ‘a fenian’.

    I didn’t even bother telling them that I’d been to more parades than the pair of them put together.

    Anyway, yes, they’re minority.

    Same could be said of football games.

    But football games aren’t ‘religious processions’.

    According to Tugger, that’s what Orange parades are.

    I know you don’t approve of this behaviour Joe and I’m not laying it at your feet.

    But it exists and any criticism of it results in the critic being a patsy liberal/republican/a hater/full of bile.

    The arguments and responses are seemingly default.

    On a semi related note, I recall sitting in car with my Grandmother and Aunt awaiting the return parade from the field.

    There was an Orangeman being propped up by two others he was so drunk.

    We were appalled (it’s thankfully still not the done thing in that district).

    My grandmother blasted: “I’d take the collarette off him!”

    She could see how damaging and disgraceful such behaviour is to the OO.

    Alas, the OO don’t seem to see it.

    It is highly commendable that they have stewards, credit where credit’s due.

    The fact remains that it is a drunken mess that intimidates many people (without the aid of SF may I add).

    It is a far cry from the more civilised Orange marches that you commendably support.

    *’Team’ is not a sporting reference, I’ll leave it at that.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Sorry, I hasten to add, the door steward story was a decade ago.
    Not this years 12th.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Am Ghomsmacht,
    I appreciate the fact that you’re willing to look at a tradition that’s alien to your own culture and background in a reasonable objective manner.
    When consuming alcohol Orange members are not allowed to wear their collarettes and in fact there is a bar on Orange members wearing their collarettes in the bar. I would however submit that the Orange institution is a good organisation in promoting responsible drinking and religious tolerance and that the problem lies with the hangers on many of whom would refuse to ever join the Orange.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “I appreciate the fact that you’re willing to look at a tradition that’s alien to your own culture and background in a reasonable objective manner.”
    Sorry Joe, you’ve lost me. Was that a tongue-in-cheek remark?
    I thought you knew I used to march in the 12th? I was in a pipe band, latterly a Loyalist band and in between I marched with my family’s lodge (as a kid and teenager, was never an official member though, you know how it is with the ‘grey areas’)

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Slight tongue in cheeek but only slight. Would you ever consider re-joining? I didn’t realise there was a history or Orangeism with you.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I’m afraid I can’t join.
    I’ve since renounced religion and have married a Catholic from Eastern Europe (who ironically is more unionist and royalist than previous Protestant flames).
    And I reckon my ‘notions’ wouldn’t go down too well with many in that fraternity.
    It’s a shame, my brothers and I have fond memories of those days, indeed, we’d like to see our family’s Orange hall preserved as some sort of folk museum (which is essentially what all OO halls are to an extent don’t you think?) when the last of the old guard go.
    So, as much as I want to see elements of the tradition preserved, my advocacy of the draconian
    methods that I deem necessary would put me at loggerheads with many and given my ‘baggage’ I have no foundation on which to fight my corner.
    Plus, can you imagine Willy McCrea’s face if I were to import a bus load of Free-P Gaels from Scotland to sing in a Gospel tent?
    Actually, I’d join for that photo alone…

  • Joe_Hoggs

    A lot of people purposely run into the procession or just won’t get out of the road, not just here but in tiny country parades. I actually had to ask a member collecting for the British Red Cross to stand aside as he was walking within our lodge ranks in Irvinesotwn.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    That’s what I thought origninally in that you were from a different tradition to me but at least at one time you briefly shared the Orange tradition.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Erm, have you ever been to the Glasgow 12th Joe?
    They have this mad notion that if you walk from one side of the road to the other in between bands(say, to go to Greggs from a bun) that you are deserving of death.
    Well not quite death but it sometimes feels like it.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Briefly?
    More like half my life

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Sorry you left Am.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Stewards will solve that problem. Back in the old days you were not allowed to cross the procession at all.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Ah, the good old days Joe.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    They were indeed Sergio, if only we could have more of them.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Well Joe, maybe my brother’s community orange museum idea might gain some ground day.
    It’s not full on involvement but it could help to keep some of the spirit alive.
    On that note, have you ever been to the Orange hall in the Doagh famine village museum in Donegal?

  • Joe_Hoggs

    I’m not quite sure of the benefits of an Orange community museum – this would suggest the Orange is consigned to history. Personally I felt there was an uptake in numbers this year.
    I have not been to that museum.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I should have elaborated Joe.
    Things such as they are in my rural area, there is no young blood to shore up the lodge, they’ve all left and the ones (like myself) who are interested in maintaining the lodge’s history are not really considered suitable material for the OO.
    It won’t exist in a couple of decades but we’d like to preserve its memory and indeed some of the rural area’s folk history.
    It may seem like a confusing nether-place to some, but I don’t see the point in locking the door and letting it crumble (or cowping it wholesale, like the previous Orange hall).

  • Joe_Hoggs

    It’s probably just better to leave it as it is to be honest.

  • http://www.ulster-scots.co.uk/ Kilsally

    60 odd arrests at eminem concert in glasgow and something similar at T in the Park.

  • Tugger

    Would you walk out in front of a car?

  • http://www.ulster-scots.co.uk/ Kilsally

    Free P Gaels wouldn`t be an issue – I have been around the donegal Gaeltacht with Free P`s giving out bi lingual gospel tracts

  • http://www.ulster-scots.co.uk/ Kilsally

    I would point out that there is actually an @orangemen4indy account on Twitter

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    City centre roads are conditioned for cars.
    Ergo, it is unusual to see humans on roads for any length of time as they tend to favour pavements, a zone usually free from cars.

    In the instances that the cars give way to humans it’s a bit odd to suggest that some humans may make use of the road and other humans may not.

    How’s about the scenario whereby if a human wishes to make use of the gaps between various clusters of other humans that they be free to do so without being verbally abused especially if it does not impede the progress of the clusters of other humans?

    Is that a preposterous suggestion?

    Or one that a religious procession could tolerate?

    BTW, speaking of religion: “What was your opinion on the religious services and church tents at Glasgow Green?”

  • Tugger

    If you wouldn’t walk out in front of a car then please don’t walk out in front of a religious procession with legal permission to use the roads in the same manner. Common sense really.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    So, you’re saying that if you had to cross a road and all the cars on said road had ground to a halt then you would refrain from crossing the road?

    That’s hardly common sense

    And I don’t see why a religious procession would allow a culture of abuse to develop for those citizens that need to cross the road.

    BTW, speaking of religion: “What was your opinion on the religious services and church tents at Glasgow Green?”

  • Stamford Raffles

    SNP rallies are not banned because they provoke Unionists.

  • carl marks

    Ah the good
    old days eh, themmuns knew their place then and the police sorted them for us if they got uppity,

    You know Joe
    I remember the good old days in the sixties as a kid I watched from behind a line of policeman as a lambeg drummer went ape for a couple of minutes outside Ardoyne Chapel to shouts of FTP.

    Or would you be referring to the 12ths when Gusty Spence’s old lodge would stop outside Crumlin Rd Prison and play the Sash and the Billy Boys (source for that info is
    Gusty’s book) yep the good old days such fun, how us fenians laughed as we were told F the Virgin Mary (by the way Joe
    how does that fit into the OO’s Christian ethos her being your Gods mother and all) the discrimination and gerrymandering carried out by a state run was by OO members is greatly missed by us Taigs!

  • Devereux

    SNP don’t have rallies. Independence supporters do. Aside from whether one is a supporter of independence or not, those attending are multi-ethnic (I am English), multi – faith. No comparison. Don’t be silly.

  • Niall Chapman

    “Tourist Attraction” I think you may be confusing the word attraction with detterent

  • Niall Chapman

    Doesn’t the fact that they need 3000 people to deter people from behaving in a drunken sectarian manner tell you all you need to know about the calibre of people attending these events

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Yep, them would Joe’s good ol’ days. The taigs knew their place back then.

  • Stamford Raffles

    OK then wise guy. Let’s call them gatherings and repeat that they have not yet been banned because they provoke Unionists. However after the NO vote the case for these delusional losers having a gathering, even a rally, or a meeting, or a parade will be weak.

  • Devereux

    Erm I’m a girl.

  • Des Donnelly

    Why not create marching stadiums;-
    marching is disruptive of day to day life
    marching is often very contentious
    marching is very expensive to police
    marching hurts people and hurts business

    Imagine if annual agricultural shows were held on city streets and A class routes.. total chaos. All those big heifers, bulls and bullocks generating an unbelievable amount of bullshit.

    The alternative – a purpose built facility, [all the builders need the work, all the suppliers need the business] this would cut out this endless bullshit – literally and metaphorically.