That Orange Hall derating story…

A controversial move to allow Orange and AOH halls to de-rate The idea was the subject of constant campaigning throughout the life of the last Assembly, and there is likely to be a battle to take credit for the move between the UUP and the DUP. However it has been challenged by both the SDLP and Sinn Fein:

Hat-tip to our Unionist blogger Ambrose who is temporarily avoiding political stories in sensitivity to some of our nationalist readers.

Sinn Fein and the SDLP last night raised concerns about why the Orange institutions had been exempted while the GAA, which offers social facilities to tens of thousands of people across the north, was not.

On top of steep insurance charges Mr Dawson said rates bills were a “a major burden on the institution” and often accounted for the biggest single annual expense incurred by some lodges.

“A small country property could pay around £500, while a hall in a major town could be paying thousands,” he said. “The exemption will free-up resources to help with the upkeep of halls and property.”

But Sinn Fein assembly member Francie Molloy said the move was retrograde.

“Under Terence O’Neill’s Stormont, Orange halls were de-rated but that stopped when it was prorogued,” Mr Molly said. “At a time when business de-rating has ended, it’s a backward step to see the promotion of Orange halls in this way”.

Indeed Molloy argued:

“The Orange Order is seen as sectarian by many, yet cross-community centres don’t get a rates rebate – what is applied to one should be applied to all.”

Apparently, GAA clubs, along with other sporting clubs, can apply for a partial reduction in their rates bills for parts of their property under existing legislation.

Another hare that will run and run…

  • davidbrew

    there is likely to be a battle to take credit for the move between the UUP and the DUP.

    Don’t think so Mick. This is a DUP gain. The UUP claimed to have sought it for years without success, and when the Orange asked for meetings the then 1st Minister refused to while Paisley took it up with Blair. Perhaps the first of several DUP gains to embarass the UUP?

  • cg


    “Hat-tip to our Unionist blogger Ambrose who is temporarily avoiding political stories in sensitivity to some of our nationalist readers.”

    That doesn’t make sense , Ambrose should continue to post stuff so that people can challenge his arguments. Ambrose shouldn’t feel the need for self censorship.

    I personally would call for his return to political blogging as this creates the impression of a Republican bias which I don’t believe exists.

  • Donnie

    Funnily enough I tried to find the link to send to Mick from yesterday’s Irish News. Pipped to the post!

    De-rating the halls is fair enough if the same criteria is applied to GAA and cross-community halls. What is the argument for only de-rating Orange Halls (including the AOH is a sop as they probably number the fingers on one hand!)?

  • Mick Fealty

    Ambrose is a sensitive soul. But it has to be said, that’s where the complaints came from.

  • maca

    I agree with CG.
    I don’t understand the reasons for this, post what’s making the headlines no matter what side of the divide they fall on.

  • Mick Fealty

    Okay, get back into the ring then Ambrose!

  • PS

    Can I apoligise to Ambrose if he feels as though my comments were intended to express any ill will towards himself. I respect entirely Ambrose’s rights to his Unionist standpoint and he has a right to express that through his blogging, i was merely trying to point out that the lack of a republican alternative created a bias in blogging which is no fault of either Mick or the bloggers, but does occassionly cause slight annoyance to myself at any rate.

    Apoligises again to Ambrose for any (unintended) offence cause.

  • cg

    Paddy you should be studying 😉

  • davidbrew

    “De-rating the halls is fair enough if the same criteria is applied to GAA”

    hang on there Donnie
    most nationalist bloggers object when people like me link the GAA to the Orange as a false comparison, yet when this issue arises it seems an automatic comaprator even for nationalists.

    As for the AOH haslls- there are more than you might think- probably almost 100 at my guess

  • cg

    I would have to agree with David on this.

    (Ok breathe)

    I don’t accept the comparison between the GAA and the Orange Order. But by trying to suggest the AOH is the opposite number to the OO is just insulting to the AOH.

  • davidbrew

    my my what a revealing and sectarian comment from SF. Time to study the history of both the AOH and the GAA methinks-after some law of course

  • Donnie

    I wasn’t making the comparison between the OO and the GAA, just as there is no comparison between cross community groups and the OO. My question is why are the OO/AOH halls deemed worthy of exemption and GAA and cross-community halls aren’t?!

    I wasn’t actually getting a dig in at the OO. This time. I was merely seeking clarification. Even leaving aside the GAA from this argument I don’t see how a partisan group can be de-rated and a cross community is forced to stump up.

  • cg

    How was the comment sectarian David

  • PS

    Donie is entirely correct.

    The crux of the matter is that neither the Orange Order or the AOH should receive rating benefit. Other community organisation which do not expressly bar a signifact number of the population should receive such advantages

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Hey, it’s typical of Govt policy in NI. I am not at all surprised.

    We put up barriers to make it harder to engagae in cross-community activity all the time, and this is just another example of how single-identity organisations are given preference over those that actually try to reach out to other sections of society.

    The government is, in essence, funding a subtle form of Apartheid.

  • davidbrew

    GAA clubs can claim rebates for sporting organisations, even though we know they have other facets to their agenda. Cross community groups which own premises ( a very small section BTW) can claim rebates if their work is charitable or religious. Most rent premises and are grant aided anyway so its not a realistic comparison

    Noone is barred from Orange halls on the basis of their religious belief- many have visitors or users of no religion or other religions- in creches, fitness clubs, credit unions, bands, Ulster Scots groups, religious groups etc. If a hall is used by a cross community group-more common than the SF posters would like us to believe- it would be unlawful discrimination to preclude access.

    Gonzo may have a point about single identity froups, but in many rural areas the only other halls are linked to churches, which have the same baggage, but benign apartheid is what the government has accepted as reality, so that’s the breaks.

    And as for Shinners complaining because someone else finally gets a crumb from the NIO goodie bag- perhaps we’d be a bit more sympathetic if we hadn’t seen them gorge themselves for the past 10 years. We didn’t hear them chirping when all their prisoners got out and the prisoner support groups had money thrown at them.

    And of course the idea that the AOH- which is if anything more institutionally sectarian in its constitution than the OO- would be “insulted” by the comparison only applies if people have a very big plank in their eyes (obviously not the Shinners then :0) ). I know several very decent AOH members, just as I know very many decent LOL members- doing good work within their own communities, but not blind to the historical baggage their organisations have to the members of “the other community”

  • Donnie

    “GAA clubs can claim rebates for sporting organisations”

    Maximum of 80% afaik. 20% is not the same as 0%.

    Noone is barred from Orange halls on the basis of their religious belief”

    Likewise GAA and cross-community.

    etc, etc, etc.

    The point I am trying to make is that is fair play to the OO if they get these breaks but the other groups who provide equal or greater community/cross-community value are faced with rates bills.

    We didn’t hear them chirping when all their prisoners got out and the prisoner support groups had money thrown at them.

    Likewise, your prisoners too.

  • Will

    It would be a very helpful move if Orange Halls were to be de-rated and the DUP is to be congratulated for pressing this issue.

    It is particularly interesting that this story has come around this week – a time when we have seen three Orange Halls damaged or gutted by arson in the West Tyrone area over a period of just a few days.

    Orange Halls, particularly in rural areas act as community centres. The hall in which my lodge meets not only is used for the local community group, the young farmers club, a childrens playgroup and also up until about 2 years ago was used by the local primary school to serve school meals in.

    Halls are of wide use and despite the fact that republicans are doing their best to burn or destroy them by any means, their value to the community should be recognised.

  • Davros

    I always confuse Francie Malloy and Francie Brolly!
    I hope Caitríona Ruane doesn’t mix them up when she reads Francie B’s Letter in yesterdays’s Irish News.

    Things could have been so different
    From Francie Brolly MLA

    Nelson McCausland’s recent letter to the Irish News regarding the Gaelic Athletic Association caused me to reflect, as I often do, on the twistings and turnings and wanderings of the great clans of the Gael. Whatever the original unanglicised, uncorrupted surname was, it appears that the McCauslands were an important Irish family, who crossed to Scotland some time before the 12th Century and took up territory in that part of Gaeldom. “About 1600 one Baron M’Auslane of Glenduglas went to Ireland and left two sons, Andrew and John. Andrew and John had moved to Ireland about 1620 as part of the plantation of Ulster under King James 1.”

    Had the McCauslands stayed in Ireland, Nelson might now be proudly promoting the beautiful language and culture and the manly native sports of his Gaelic forebears.

    Oh dear me, how terribly sexist!

  • fair_deal

    I so like how whenever republicans are faced with a reasonable argument and a person who choses not to subscribe to the Irish Gaelic Celtic and Roman Catholic than they ignore the arguments and return to the old meaningless crutch of Unionist ‘false consciousness’.

  • davidbrew

    Likewise, your prisoners too.

    I don’t have any prisoners. And if you mean loyalists, they should have been kept inside too.

    BTW Davros
    -to help with your Shinner confusion
    Francie Molloy : greybearded incoherent terrorist supporter from some obscure part of the country beginning with “Dung”(annon)

    Francie Brolly: greybearded overly coherent terrorist supporter from some obscure part of the country beginning with “Dung”(iven)… with nauseatingly oleaginous wife and RTE pundit son.

    Catriona Ruane-ugh