Orange must return to its roots

Brian Kennaway argues in the Blanket that the Orange Order must instigate a root and branch reformation, particularly with regard to the sometimes controversial qualifications of an Orangeman.

  • irishman

    As a member of the Crumlin Orange Lodge, Rev. Kennaway should be quite aware of the gap between the expressed ‘values’ of the Brethren and the reality. The local Orange Volunteers- run from Stoneyford by Drumcree’s answer to Davy Crocket (at least in his own mind)- virtually run the Order in the Stoneyford, Glenavy and Crumlin area.

    Whilst these articles at least represent a start within the Order, they still fall far short of what is required by that organisation to prove to nationalists that it is anything other than a quasi-paramlitary grouping, akin to the yeomanry of the past.

  • Christopher Stalford

    “Orange must return to its roots”


    “Kennaway must return under his rock”

  • Belfast Gonzo

    I remember a few years ago in Crumlin, Martin Meehan and Marty McManus had organised a residents protest against an Orange parade through the centre of the village.

    Rev Kennaway and the Orange Volunteer I think you are referring to were both there, although only one seemed to be trying to do anything positive.

    The Orange Order seems to drown progressive voices like Kennaway’s, and then agitators like your man come in to stir things up more when they spot an opportunity. When nationalist residents saw the OVs in sashes (in the company of a now-dead LVF leader suspected of murdering a Catholic not far from there at around that time) in Crumlin that year, you can imagine how that would have made finding a compromise more difficult.

    Hopefully, now that the stuffing has been knocked out of the Drumcree protest, it has meant many of those paramilitaries taking a step back from the Order. However, the perception in the nationalist community that the Order is packed with paramilitaries is as widespread as the belief in unionist circles that residents’ groups were being run by Sinn Fein.

    And sometimes that was true too. See Messrs Meehan and McManus for further information.

  • Christopher Stalford


    “And sometimes that was true too”

    Can you name some occassions when it wasn’t?

  • Belfast Gonzo


    No, but then I don’t know every residents’ group.

    Oh, BTW, Christopher, I mean to ask you, was that you on the pre-US election Rush Limbaugh phone in?

  • Christopher Stalford

    Guilty as charged m,lud!

  • Christopher Stalford

    “No, but then I don’t know every residents’ group.”

    So you can’t name one residents group that wasn’t/isn’t a Sinn Fein-controlled operation?

  • Belfast Gonzo


    No, there could be, in the same way I couldn’t name one Orange Lodge that I didn’t know for sure hadn’t any loyalist paramilitary members.

    Oh, there was a story about you in the Irish Echo or World, about that L Rush phone in. They didn’t know it was you. I thought it was worth an educated guess.

    Make sure you guys don’t let Blair stop you from meeting Bush next time he pops round.

  • Christopher Stalford

    “No, there could be, in the same way I couldn’t name one Orange Lodge that I didn’t know for sure hadn’t any loyalist paramilitary members.”

    LOL 247 – Royal Sovereign, No. 2 District, Belfast County – my lodge. All though you’ll have to take my word for it! Paramilitary influence is a red herring as you very well know – the real agenda is all about stamping on the cultural traditions of the Unionist community.

    “I thought it was worth an educated guess.”

    Hmmm… Christopher from Belfast, listening to America’s most popular conservative talk-radio host, rooting for Bush – hard to figure out ain’t it!

    BTW, Rush is great!

  • Belfast Gonzo

    “Paramilitary influence is a red herring as you very well know”

    There seemed to be plenty of it that night in Crumlin and at Drumcree…

  • Davros

    BG – how many of those paramilitaries would have been at Drumcree if it hadn’t been for Athboy ?

  • Christopher Stalford

    Answer the question – 1 resident group that wasn’t a Sinn Fein front.

    A useful point of information – Brendan McKenna – remeber he of the entirely independent residents coalition? – is now in the paid employ of Sinn Fein MLA John “mind your knuckles on the carpet” O’Dowd.

  • Christopher Stalford

    “Make sure you guys don’t let Blair stop you from meeting Bush next time he pops round.”

    Absolutely – why should the poor man be subjected to Trimble and Durkan all the time?

    “The times they are a’ changin'”

  • Belfast Gonzo


    I can’t answer a hypothetical question with any accuracy. Who knows. Probably some anyway.


    I can’t name one because I don’t have a list of every member of every residents group. Not that such lists would exist, but the Orange Order, like most organisations, doesn’t make it’s membership list known either (and rightly so), so it’s an impossible question to answer…

    There probably are some lodges with no paramilitaries in them, but the Order’s generally relaxed attitude to discipline and distancing itself from paramilitaries – whether members or ‘hangers-on’ – doesn’t endear me to it in a major way.

    On the Bush thing, I thought it was disgraceful the way that Blair stopped him from meeting the DUP at Hillsborough.

  • Michael Shilliday

    So the Institution shouldn’t return to its roots then Chris? Or is it just Brian disagreeing with you that winds you up?

  • Millie

    The OO return to its roots? What, wholesale violence, destruction of property and loss of life? And that’s just the marches! If they ever made a film about the OO it would probably have to be a 18 certificate.

  • Christopher Stalford

    “So the Institution shouldn’t return to its roots then Chris?”

    Speaking as a member of the Institution, the best thing it can do is divorce itself from your shambles of a party.

    “Or is it just Brian disagreeing with you that winds you up?”

    Mr. Kennaway is entitled to his views – many of them I share, many of them I don’t.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    On a change of tack, I want to go back to Kennaway’s article in the Blanket.

    I am curious about how Kennaway sees himself from the ‘dissenting tradition’. Is this a reference to his Presbyterianism, or because he dissents within the Orange Order?

    I ask because, as the dates in his article indicate, the Order was set up around the time of the United Irishmen.

    While Presbyterian ‘dissenters’ and Irish Catholics joined forces against the Establishment, wasn’t the Orange Order formed to oppose those same Presbyterian and Catholic dissenters and uphold the Ascendency?

    If Presbyterians (the ‘dissenting tradition’ opposed to the State’s discrimination against them) and the Orange Order (pro-Establishment) were actually on opposite sides of the battlefield in the late 18th century, is it not more true to say that an Orangeman using the historical authority of the ‘dissenting tradition’ is either being slightly disingenuous or articulating a contradiction in terms?

    If my historical timing is out, then at least ideologically, the Presbyterians and Orange Order would have been opposed to each other.

    …or is it just that my history sucks and I’ve confused myself?

    If my history is wrong, forget all that. The question would still remain though – how can someone dedicated to upholding the British Establishment by belonging to the Orange Order honestly say they come from a ‘dissenting tradition’?

  • davidbrew

    yep, Gonzo, your history sucks, but its still light years ahead of Silly Millie’s bigotted nonsense

    Many, if not all, of the Presbyterian UI were very anti RC church- as was Wolfe Tone of course. There is a story of the night before the Battle of Antrim when the UI men were encamped and a Toomebridge man said that the next day would reverse the iniquities of the Battle of the Boyne, for which he received a good kicking from the Presbyterians present, who demurred strongly from that view of the Glorious Revolution.

    They were opposed to the discrimination of the state against them as dissenters, and they were also motivated by events in the US and France, as well as a millinerianistic theology suggesting they were living in the last days. The Presbyterian dynamic always extends from radical anti establishment to conservative evangelical-even today I have virtually no common beliefs with Ken Newell- beyond the obvious basics. There was a strong unitarian strand in Presbyterianism in Counties Antrim and Down which was very receptive to the UI beliefs. COunty Londonderry was probably as strong as either of these, but now significant trouble took place, and there were probably no more than 10 orange Lodges, many in the linen producing areas. And of course we all know that the ’98 was a freemason conspiracy-obvious why its admirers in the SDLP wouldn’t want peelers to belong to such an organisation!

    Equally many Presbyterians were Orangemen because of theology and because of simple economics-they were being squeezed by the rise of the militancy of the RC population in places like Armagh and Tyrone, so most gravitated to the Orange.Some were actually members of both. It probably largely depended on how heavy the hand of the Ascendancy fell on you.The parallel is simple-strong Defender movement = Presbyterian Orangemen, confirming the essentially defensive nature of the Order at that time. The Orange Order never took to the battlefield as such. Many members were in the local Militias , and several officers were prominent Orange Order members. But, in a trend which continues to this day, Defenders in the Southern part of the ’98 lumped all Protestants not in their ranks together as orangemen-hence such noble acts as Scullabogue.

    Another irony was the antipathy to the army in presbyterian circles. In North Londonderry there was virtually no OO, but the Kerry Militia, Irish spesking and RC except for the officers, were hated for their homesearches etc. The Cork Militia had a similar makeup, and did sterling work for His Brittanic Majesty in alienating those whose descendants became Britain’s most loyal subjects. Now why doesn’t it surprise me that we always hear about those misguided Presbyterians whose ancestors were enlightened United men, but within a generation metamorphosed into intolerant Unionist bigots, but noone wants to research why those enlightened Republicans from the Rebel county had grandfathers who were enthusiastic hatchetmen for the Ascendancy

    Rev Kennnaway is a dissenter because Presbyterians dissented from the establishment of the Church of Ireland with its theological errors (don’t start me). As late as the 1920s Rev WB Armour of Ballymoney- another Presbyterian erroneously cited by nationalists as a Home Ruler- was claiming in the General Assembly that there was discrimination in the Unionist Party and NI Government agaisnt his church, by citing the suspiciously small number of Unionist MPs who had been members of the Church, and his concern about the lack of support for Church schools.
    Strictly speaking we don’t “dissent” any more since the disestablishment of the Cof I in the 1860s, though we are of course also discriminated against by the Act of Settlement.

    Yawn. I’ll get me coat now

  • Davros

    Interesting article DB. One point to raise :

    Rev WB Armour of Ballymoney- another Presbyterian erroneously cited by nationalists as a Home Ruler

    Possibly the Nationalists were relying on the Ulster Scots agency ?

    Armour of Ballymoney: Presbyterian Minister, Liberal Home Ruler and Thrawn Ulster-Scot

    As the third Home Rule crisis unfolded, Armour nailed his Home Rule colours to the mast in an interview published in the Daily News on 5 January 1911. Armour asserted that Protestant fears concerning Home Rule were groundless. He contended that Protestants would have one quarter of the membership of any Dublin parliament to protect them and to look after their interests. Presbyterians, in particular, would have nothing to fear, he alleged, because “under no conceivable circumstances could they have less recognition than they had during all the days of Tory rule in Ireland”. These views he reiterated in his contribution to The New Irish Constitution, a collection of essays in support Home Rule, published in 1912.

    Armour dismissed “Ulster Day” (28 September, 1912, the day on which the Ulster Covenant was signed) as “Protestant fool’s day”. He regarded Sir Edward Carson, the Unionist leader, as “a sheer mountebank” and “the greatest enemy of Protestantism”. The General Assembly did not debate the Home Rule issue in 1912 but Armour spoke in favour of Home Rule at the General Assembly of 1913. He was involved, largely behind the scenes, in the organisation of the anti-Carson Home Rule meeting in Ballymoney Town Hall in October 1913.

    Armour was never other than trenchant in the expression of his views. He despised Unionist politicians without exception. When a Liberal Cabinet minister’s daughter married Hon. Arthur O’Neill, Unionist MP for Mid Antrim, Armour concluded: “She has lost all sense of the proprieties of civilised life and ought to be tarred and feathered”. Terence O’Neill was a child of that marriage.

    No ecumenist, he welcomed the promulgation of the Ne temere decree of 1908 because it would “prevent mixed marriages considerably in the future”. He had no compassion for Mrs McCann, a Presbyterian and the most celebrated victim of Ne temere: “The general opinion among those who know the woman and her family history is that she is no great shakes and to use her case for purely political purposes shows the straits to which the Ulster Tories are reduced”.

    Armour’s view of the Castledawson incident of 29 June 1912, when Hibernians returning from an AOH rally in Maghera attacked a Presbyterian Sunday School excursion, was that “drink was at the bottom of the unfortunate business” but he also allowed himself to speculate – but without any evidence – that “some mad Orangemen of the locality” might have “laid the bait for an attack on the children”.

    He loathed the Orange Order but was friendly towards the Independent Orange Order because it was a thorn in the side of residual landlordism and the Unionist establishment.

    A Liberal Home Ruler rather than a Nationalist, Armour had no sympathy for Sinn Fein. He was opposed to partition in 1920, and in 1923 was unsympathetic to Unionist politicians struggling to operate Northern Ireland’s devolution experiment: “I am not saying that they did not do right in starting up their government, they were compelled to do it because they had yelled about “No Home Rule” for a generation and then were compelled to take a form of Home Rule that the Devil himself could never have imagined”.

    On 4 June 1924 he delivered his last speech to the General Assembly, deploring the under-representation of Presbyterians in public office. He retired from the ministry on 2 September 1925. He died on 25 January 1928 as the result of catching a chill, which developed into pneumonia, attending a luncheon in honour of Viscount Craigavon in Ballymoney.

    The mainspring of Armour’s politics was his hostility to Toryism, landlordism and the Church of Ireland. For the greater part of the 19th century there would have been nothing exceptional about Armour’s politics, save perhaps his vehemence. The Ulster Scots community in which Armour grew up shaped his political views. What was unusual about Armour was the tenacity with which he clung to his worldview long after both disestablishment of the Church of Ireland (in 1871), and land purchase schemes in the late 19th and early 20th century, might have appeared to render his politics largely anachronistic.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Thanks DB.

  • Will

    Out of interest, are you an Orangeman?

  • davidbrew

    yep Davros Armour was a mad old badger. He hated Carson and the Tories, though he was less opposed to the Presbyterian Craig . His liberalism was probably based on a denial of the Gladstonian project.Whatever commitment he had to Home Rule was probably based on the view “my enemy’e enemy is my friend”. The OO leaders were C of I bluebloods, so therefore not to be trusted.

    It’s funny that most of the people who shared his mindset were also sympathetic to the IOO, and as we know they are largely DUP supporters. Never forget that the reason Paisley flourished in the early years was his ability to tap into the ordinary N Antrim Presbyterian’s antipathy to the Unionist establishment. It seems that as each new generation of Unionist politicians become the establishment they are doomed to alienate the ordinary man in the pew*. DT,Jas Cooper & co take note.My guess is that Armour, had he been alive in the 1960s, might even have ended up a Paisley supporter. Certainly not a Dr John RObb Mk1- yet I once heard him cited -by Garret Fitzgerald, if memory serves-as an example for Northern Unionists
    to emulate.

    *Or then again maybe we’re all just a clatter of thrawn glipes. I know I am.

  • davidbrew

    oh and yes, my mistake Davros- I meant to say Armour wasn’t a nationalist-thanks for the corection

  • Davros

    A fascinating man David 🙂

  • davidbrew

    am I ? gosh, ta very much davros! :0)

  • Belfast Gonzo

    LOL for the LOL man!

    As an aside, DB, can you explain how the anti-establishment mindset in Protestantism – noticeable in Presbyterianism and Free P-ism – translates into loyalty to the state?

    I understand loyalty to the throne to be conditional, yet when those conditions appear to be habitually broken and when push comes to shove, loyalism remains wedded to support for the state (with noteable exceptions).

  • davidbrew

    it’s very similar to the US conservative bumper sticker-I love my country but I hate my government.NO coincidence that the ScotchIrish are belatedly being rersearched by electoral analyists after W2.
    I suppose the abstract notion of, for instance, the Monarchy evokes loyalty as opposed to many members of the Royal Family. That’s probably why our politics are out of step with most in GB-in that we deplore the reality in favour of aspiring to and defending the ideal.Our fellow Britons have a more cynical view of politics.

    Who’s to say our quasi-American view isn’t preferrable , in that US politicians at least have to pretend to aspire to a higher calling than the bank book?

  • Michael Shilliday

    No Will I’m not. Just as you are not a member of the Ulster Unionist Party, but you are still free to pass comment.

  • davidbrew

    how exactly have we departed from our roots then michael?

  • Michael Shilliday

    We have managed to travel quite a distance from the content of Kennaway’s article.

    Lets bet bact to the content

    “It is ironical that the GAA can abandon its offensive Rule 21, a product of the political conflict of the 1920’s. Can the Orange Order not abandon their additions to the Qualifications, a product of the political conflict of the previous century?”

    Can any Orangeman out there tell me why the Orange Order cannot change since it has evidently changed in the past?

  • davidbrew

    first tell us why we need to in your opinion Michael

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Because bowler hats aren’t cool any more?

  • davidbrew

    too bloody right-you try wearing hammered black felt on your bonce on a summer’s day, and if you bore a hole in the top the steam’s through like a kettle-mind you, in the early 20th century there were a lot of straw boaters about-now that’s a look

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Aren’t the bowler hats kind of representative of the idea that Orangeism harks back to a sense of Britishness that belongs to the past and is unrecognisable by British people in general?

  • Millie

    ‘Equally many Presbyterians were Orangemen because of theology and because of simple economics’

    They weren’t even allowed in the OO until 1834, which completely invalidates the jackanory you wrote. Which leaves Gonzo’s original question unanswered…

  • davidbrew

    They weren’t even allowed in the OO until 1834, which completely invalidates the jackanory you wrote.

    Really. And what ladybird book of Sinn Fein history did you pluck that nonsense from? Cos it’s complete nonsense, as any student of Orangeism will tell you