Fairness and Fear in the alternate universe of the Orange Order…

I’ve heard some bizarre things on the Nolan show but the recent interview with Drew Nelson, Grand Secretary of the Orange Order, has got to be in the top five. The discussion centered round a recent Orange Order report, ‘Fairness and Fear’ that outlined the horrors Protestants face in the workplace. As an atheist I object to being called a Protestant’ but I suppose I could be termed part of the wider PUL community the Orange Order frequently claims to speak for. Workplace harassment undoubtedly exists and I have no doubt people from both main communities are subjected to it along with those from other races and backgrounds, sexuality, etc. but what I heard on Nolan didn’t sound like harassment or discrimination to me.

I work in what could be broadly termed the civil service and yes, I have heard people discuss a GAA game at the weekend but so what? Why on earth should I feel offended? It is perfectly normal for people to talk about what they did at the weekend or what they watched on TV. It is a long time since I have seen someone at work with ash on their forehead and I have never seen a mass card on someone’s desk, but even if these were regular events, why should they seem remotely threatening?

The Orange Order’s raison d’être is to perpetuate the religious wars of the Reformation where the Roman Catholic Church was seen as a satanic organisation, Hell-bent on world domination. Father Ted, a show that’s seems more like a documentary than comedy with each passing year, has taught us there’s nothing to fear about the Catholic Church, which joking aside, has imploded in Ireland. Decades of abuse scandals and cover-ups has destroyed the Church’s authority and it will never get it back. In 2016 the idea of a global Catholic conspiracy is the type of absurd nonsense only believed in normal societies by people who wear tin foil hats.

I understand the attraction of the Orange Order to some. It provides continuity with previous generations and it has a central place in holding remote and sometimes isolated Protestant communities together. Most rural Orange parades are dignified affairs but, (unfortunately there is a ‘but’ albeit an important one) an organisation that demands its members avoid taking part in Catholic services or marrying a Catholic automatically defines Catholics as the ‘other’ – an eternal enemy whose adherents are either willing agents of nefarious Papal forces or at best, easily led dupes.

I try to be open minded and have attended open air Papal audiences in Rome where non-Catholics were welcomed in a friendly, family atmosphere and I enjoyed pleasant afternoons. Strangely I did not fall under the influence of the anti-Christ, the Whore of Babylon or whatever else the Pope is supposed to be to the lunatic fringe of Protestantism, and felt no urge to take instruction in the mysteries of Catholicism. Compare that to the last Orange parade I was at which was attended to by a display of drunkenness and public urination. The air was blue with foul language, easily audible to any child present, and peppered with sectarian chanting and songs aimed at insulting and denigrating Catholics. In fairness, it was the parade followers not the marchers responsible, but before the Orange Order starts complaining about people taking about Gaelic Football, maybe it should come up with an action plan to ensure the loutish element that follows it behaves itself.

The complaints aired by Drew Nelson do not constitute harassment or discrimination but rather voice bewilderment from Jurassic-era Protestants who find it difficult to accept Catholics are no longer seen and not heard. Talking about a GAA match or a daughter’s first communion is not assertive or aggressive nationalism but rather people being themselves and talking about everyday life. The Orange Order could transform its 12th celebrations into an inclusive folk festival that would be a major tourist attraction but that would entail it taking a long hard look at itself and undergoing radical change. Maybe its leaders should go to Irish Fest in Milwaukee and see how and people of many backgrounds and races enjoy themselves at an event that celebrates Irishness. Alternately it can just keep on doing what it does and become increasing viewed as an ugly relic of the past, associated only with intolerance. Personally I don’t think the institution is capable of change. Its very existence is dedicated to resisting it but I stand ready to be proved wrong.

Sam Thompson is a keen amateur historian who can be contacted on Twitter @Jarriesam

Sam Thompson is an occasional blogger, writer and historian, his latest book is ‘The Lesser Evil: A Political & Military History of World War II 1937-45‘
You can find him on Twitter at: @JarrieSam

  • murdockp

    I do not want to see the order banned. I just wish they would reflect on the various groups who make up this island and recognise all groups as having equality.

  • eamoncorbett

    Does the phrase easily led dupes have a double meaning.

  • Cosmo

    Actually, surely this is Spain’s fabulous orange season – so, you need to change your greengrocer, if they aren’t supplying you with super-delicious oranges right now.

  • ted hagan

    What a country for pettiness and squabbles. It’s too small, too narrow. There’s many good folk in Northern Ireland but when there’s so much real tragedy around, here and in Europe, we always seem to revert to the same old crap. Maybe if these topics were given less coverage in shows like the Nolan Show they might go away.
    I’m afraid this country has been indulged so much that we expect everyone to listen to the least little gripe. We are worth more than that but then maybe we’re just backward as a country?

  • Adam Martin

    God knows why but I read through the report and the 25 statements.

    The most consistent complaint in the statements is the claim that career prospects for “Roman” Catholics in their department is far greater than career prospects for Protestants.
    The beginning of the report offers a breakdown of the civil service workforce by religion and yes,there would appear to be a slight bias in favor of Catholics by a few percent.
    This is easily observable only when you take all of the data from the massive civil service workforce in Northern Ireland.However,ask yourself this – how can such statistics be observable to these people in the confines of their own office?

    Statements 17 and 19 are actually from two Protestant schoolkids who want to work in the civil service, but have it in their head that they’ll be met with a glass ceiling.I wonder who spoon-fed them that idea.

  • Dominic Hendron

    Thanks Cosmo, will do

  • Brian O’Neill

    You are free to write posts and send them to Mick for consideration. We accept posts from anyone as long as they are coherent and not libellous.

  • LordSummerisle

    There is a famous picture that was published in the Tercentenary Book showing the current usurper with Her consort in the company of Lambeg drummers at a reception in, I think, Hillsborough. Also, as far as I know, a Lodge bearing the name of George VI, from Craigantlet, wrote to his widow asking for permission to use the name. It was duly granted with one provision, that the Lodge wear Blue collerettes.

  • Zorin001

    The “Hallowed Ground of Casement Park” issue was taken to an Industrial Tribunal last year and was roundly dismissed. Both Gaelic and Association Football have been played by DSD teams at Casement and Seaview respectively and both have been promoted internally according to my source.

  • Zig70

    Last report I saw said Catholics were under represented in Management. http://www.northernireland.gov.uk/news/news-dfp/news-dfp-july-2007/news-dfp-180707-northern-ireland-civil.htm
    The civil service were recently found to have discriminated against Catholics
    Also, if they aren’t careful they will discriminate again by giving too generous an early retirement package in these rounds and then poorer packages in subsequent rounds as they will have an equality impact on Catholics. Now where’s my mug.

  • I wonder about the statistics in the report presented as percentages. Since there are different numbers employed at each grade, to understand the situation we need actual numbers. A slight percentage difference in a grade of scores of people does not outweigh a difference in the opposite direction in a grade of hundreds or thousands.

  • Zorin001

    I’ve had a good long chat with my friend in DSD and he says a number of these testimonies are very skewed takes on what actually happened. He has first hand knowledge of some of the Castle Court stories and he would take a very different view on what took place.

    And before anyone asks he’s a Ulster Unionist voter who would have little time for a Nationalist viewpoint, but he dislikes people trying to score cheap points even more.

  • Msiegnaro

    For goodness sake.

  • Granni Trixie

    Omg! As far as I can see you have omitted the key feature of the Mass card: that the priests signature Is like a contract to say a mass for the deceased. Unless things have altered since I was into all of this.

  • Reader

    Jag: The numbers at senior grades seems to support this, but if you examine
    education trends in Northern Ireland, the reason for the phenomenon is
    as clear as day: more Taigs at university…

    Think harder – the people at senior grades are in their 40s or more likely 50s. They were at university 20 or 30 years ago – not last week. What was the ratio at university back then?

  • Granni Trixie

    Interestingly, I remember around 1968 in civil service that some people came into work in their TA uniforms. I also overheard same people talking about “theyll soon Be taking over the place” after two Catholics were promoted to – wait for it- JSOs – Junior Staff Officers. Go figure.

  • Granni Trixie

    On a practical level how would someone who who wanted to get their ashes on good Friday do so and also go to work given the mark is out on your forehead? It’s not one day a year. I thnk that it is the policy for instance in large institutions such as QUB to allow poppies to be worn on one particular day in November but otherwise not in keeping with neutral workng enviroment policy.

  • Granni Trixie

    You have left out that the report is newsworthy because it is so ridiculous – the OO have lost the run of themselves.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    If you’re a young un, then you have still to learn that there any many more values and ideologies than what you hear on msm. The idea that what is right is to accept everything as ok if that’s what the person wants to do is just the main stream idea. People of the 3 major faiths disagree with much of what is promoted to the atheist masses. Do you understand this, or do you think that what you are told by msm is the only thing that is right?

  • Cosmo

    Are you warning us of the threats to a civilised and tolerant life, which are posed by Religious fundamentalists ? Something we see, as a reminder of our war-torn European history, in the Middle East today.

  • John Collins

    I really think you are on to something. The whole island seems to have a surfeit of perpetual whingers, who get their moment of ill deserved fame on Nowlan or the Joe Duffy Show, down south.

  • Ernekid

    Msm? Do you mean Mainstream media? I’m such a young’un I read it first as MSN and I thought that I haven’t used MSN in years.

    You sound a wee bit like a tin foil hatted looper whinging about the Mainstream Media and the ‘atheist masses’ no offence intended buddy.

  • John Collins

    I was working in the public service in the south, for thirty five years. I never once in my career presented myself at work except I was wearing a collar and tie and a well ironed shirt. I felt it was utterly unprofessional, and showed no respect for the clients I dealt with, not to be well presented.
    Anyway if I wore a football top or t-shirt of any description to work I would be sent home and told to come back appropriately attired.
    I retired ten years ago. Boy! how standards seem to have changed.

  • John Collins

    See my reply to Brendan. As I said, I was a public servant for 35 years, retiring in 2005, and if I, or anybody else, turned up at work in a sports top or t-shirt we would be sent home and told to come back appropriately attired, as in well ironed shirt, collar and tie. This would cut out some of the nonsense spoken of here.

  • Brendan Heading

    Depends on the workplace. When I worked at a bank HQ in Dublin it was a strict suit and tie place, just like the one you mention.

    In IT companies there tends to be a casual or smart casual policy, usually jeans and a t-shirt are fine unless you need to face the public.

    however there are jobs in manufacturing, or for example bar work, where there is no uniform as such.

  • Chingford Man

    You left out Alan Lennon’s successful discrimination claim against the DRD. The tribunal found Conor Murphy’s evidence “implausible and lacking credibility”. I’m sure it just slipped your mind. Fancy that.

  • Pasty

    Drew Nelson’s comparison of sporting events and expression of sympathy to his members making reference to the Orange Order is ludicrous. People in the CS talk daily about Soccer, Rugby and Gaelic Football similar events as well as boxing and horse racing etc.
    These are the same people who demanded and got a running reference to the earth being created 6500 years ago at the Giants Causeway due to them being offended by scientists and archeologists providing hard evidence that the Earth was formed more than 4.5billion years ago and that the dinosaurs roamed the Earth 65million years ago.
    Not long ago an Orange Order member made an allegation of discrimination around people talking about GAA games and making reference to Casement Park as the “Hallowed Ground”. He was offended by them because 2 soldiers were killed near Casement Park – which a tribunal found his claims linking the 2 to be somewhat distasteful.
    I can recall others being offended by jelly baby sweets falling onto the table and some being green, white and orange landing together and the red and purple not landing in between those colours.
    They should be embarrassed to be trying to defend a report that they clearly want to show bias against their members. And at the same time they tell the World that no one should pay any attention to people who find their parades offensive and that they have a right to walk where and when they like.
    Overall this is Nothing Short of embarrassing and everyone should squirm with the thought that people from other countries are going to see that.

  • Zig70

    I would put the blame for that squarely at SF’s door not the civil service. I’m amazed you would miss that opportunity to attack the enemy.

  • samay

    Totally agree. I’ve thought for some time that there is a desparation with the Nolan Show to make news or controversy every day.
    Then there are the rent a quote mob who cannot wait put their tuppence worth…..Gregory Campbell, Conor Murphy, Jim Allister…….Yawn.
    It is not healthy debate and it isn’t good for us at all.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    AG, it’s becoming something of a trope for Unionists who do not want to debate anything intelligently. A simple scan over a few threads shows just how silly it actually is. The real problem is the quality of Unionist posters. While there are, and have been, some excellent people who write fine, well thought out postings, people such as Reader, Mainland Ulsterman, Gopher, and the much missed Zeno, alongside some of the most powerful and focused postings here by Turgon (who only lets himself down on sometimes abusive comments), all too often the general run of Unionist poster fails to debate and simply tries to trade insult instead of informative argument. And few of these appear to consider that someone disagreeing with them is not simply a “covert” Republican, but may actually be someone thinking about things outside of the obligatory boxes.

    As you say “This longing for digital martyrdom is as pathetic as it is scary.”

  • submariner

    I doubt the Order would orchestrate anything

    Except maybe rioting

  • Chingford Man

    I doubt you would ever orchestrate a useful comment.

  • Pasty

    Just heard that a delegation are to approach the Equality Commission for a meeting to discuss the colour of Grass. Apparently the grass is too green and they feel threatened going out everyday into this environment. A request for £800million a year to be set aside to have the grass genetically modified to a more acceptable neutral Orange / Purple colour which is one of the major findings from a comprehensive survey carried out from interviewing 25 impartial members.
    The Grand Super Wizard has said that many Protestants feel they are being discriminated against as God has made most of the trees green for most of the year while plants with Orange and Purple colouring die off after 8 weeks or so.
    Some of the major political party’s have indicated that they will fight hard to have this clear discrimination rectified should they be re-elected with a promise that 25% of the British Government subsistence budget being set aside for colouring.
    The Super Grand Wizard has said they believe the greening is a Republican threat that must be fought and have called on all Unionists to make their way to the UDA “Give us your money” peace camp at Twaddle Avenue in Belfast where they hope to put the British under pressure to address the issue by employing another 50 Community Workers to put the PUL people’s minds at ease.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Framing the issue perhaps? Check this (over a cup of tea) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAwZL3n9kGE

  • eireanne3

    i understand Ashes are only applied on Ash Wednesday – to mark the beginning of Lent.If applied early morning before going into work they probably wear off by the end of the day. if not, they are certainly washed off in Thursday morning’s shower before travelling to work

  • eireanne3

    please do remember that Loyal order members knight themselves in self-knighting ceremonies. Once an individual has stooped to that . . . . https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2013/09/01/royal-black-preceptory-appear-great-because-they-say-they-are/

  • eireanne3

    or sectarianism?

  • eireanne3

    are you quite, quite sure who the perpetrators of projecting ignorance are?

  • eireanne3

    i agree with notime to shine. Unionists really should have the chance to vote for what it says on the tin – the benefits of union. It is time to examine the conflict of interest between unionism and the orange order. If the orange order wants to exert political influence let them form their own party, propose candidates and canvass like all other parties.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    Just asking if you understood that there are different values out there, and the msm is often used as a tool to push certain ideas and exclude others.
    I don’t have a tin foil hat. I prefer kitchen roll ????

  • Sir Rantsalot

    Nope. I’m saying that the lack of values in the atheist msm often conflicts with the defined values of the 3 main religions. The promotion of immorality in msm is the danger to society, not the clear moral guidelines of the 3 main religions.

  • Cosmo

    I agree with you that populist media relies on a drumbeat of consumerism, celebrity culture, warmongering, and sensationalist fear- generating techniques which gums up rationality. You only have to watch Fox News for 10 minutes to experience that drum beat of militarism and anger. The pandering to malice, knee-jerk reaction, lack of memory & critical honesty, is something to be concerned about.
    But, ‘mainstream’ media is losing its business model, – so what happens next ?
    As for the ‘the clear moral guidelines of the 3 main religions’…..well, they had their chance in the past to dominate our conciousness, and seemed to generate plenty of wars and misery too.

  • I’ll have to admit defeat on this one: I am completely lost for words.

    ‘What on earth were they thinking and what on earth is their strategy’ is the best I can do.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    The invisible link is not working, AG….

    “Speak again Cordelia……”

    Oh, not tea, never tea, always coffee, preferably Ethopian…..

  • Greenflag 2

    I must relate my Methodist and mass /sympathy card personal experience but time disallows and it’s not Friday but more anon .

  • submariner

    No the author has gripes with the garbage report put into the public domain by a violent anti catholic organisation, a report which seems to consist of anecdotal stories from members of said anti catholic organisation. The author is quite right to highlight its stupidity.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Oops! (fixed)

  • Tochais Siorai

    It’s a pity a few of them wouldn’t comment here and call this nonsense for what it is.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I entirely agree that it will only be when such people “break the party line” about nonsense such as this that anything real will begin to happen. But the whole point of Jimmyz’s comment is to suggest that Slugger is somehow the preserve of an entirely Nationalist/Republican community of posters and their deluded liberal dupes, and when the occasional Unionist who wanders onto Slugger he/she is driven out with an orchestra of jeers of truly Wagnerian proportions. AG pointed to the discussions on the “1916 Legacy: Ireland paved the way for small nations” thread to show how silly a comment this is, and I’m also pointing to just how many strong Unionist voices are constantly present and that sensible, if robust conversations on issues occur where Unionism is powerfully represented continually on Slugger threads.