Should Orange Order get tough on illegal marchers?

The BBC reports that the Orangemen who carried out an illegal parade in Belfast on Saturday may face prosecution for their actions.

According to the report, the PSNI said those taking part were given two warnings and the matter would be forwarded to the DPP.

If convicted should those participants be thrown out of the Orange Order to show that the organisation will not turn a blind eye to their members’ assembling illegally or were they justified to ignore the police and march into the city centre to commemorate two Ulster Defence Regiment soldiers who were murdered in the 1980s?

  • fair_deal

    This small parade has been held for a number of years. The lodge had submitted the necessary forms in the required time.

    Following a complaint from the Parades Commission about a parade last year (the complaint referred to a band playing the Sash and a delay on the return parade) the person(s) named as the parade organiser (it may have been two people) was/were arrested and questioned. A file was sent to the DPP and the case dropped. Something similar occurred in West Belfast were the PSNI interrogated a pensioner over among other things a band being 38 seconds late (no you read that correctly 38 seconds).

    To avoid this singling out of an individual(s) the Lodge decided that as it was a lodge parade all members names should be submitted as the parade organisers. (This in itself was a risk as many are ex-servicemen and Parades Commission documents have shown in IRA intelligence files).

    The Parades Commission refused to accept this demanding the form be filled exactly as they want it, they deemed the form invalid and therefore the parade was ruled illegal.

    Despite this ruling the lodge still held the parade. It was conducted peacefully. It was an act of civil disobedience against the Parades Commission. In these circumstances it is extremely unlikely the institution will discipline nor do I think they should.

  • Jacko

    Typical of the Orange Order. When will it ever sink in that NI isn’t their own little feifdom where they can flout the laws whenever they choose while, at the same time, demanding that everyone else abide by them?

  • vespasian

    There is only one valid set of laws in Northern Ireland and everyone is bound by them, we cannot pick and choose which laws we like.

    I detest Blair and his lies and many of the laws he enacts but his Government was democratically elected and is entitled to create laws as they think fit.

    We however can only oppose them within the law.

  • fair_deal


    Is civil disobedience an unacceptable form of protest?

  • Jacko

    It depends on the circumstances. In Northern Ireland illegal parades are hardly in the same bracket as protesting huntspeople in GB.

    Though I have to say as well, a few years back the American Supreme Court upheld the costitutional right of a group of neo-nazis to parade through a Jewish district in New York.

  • willowfield

    Don’t know if it was the same parade, but on Saturday morning I was driving along Short Strand and came across a huge number of white police vans at the junction with Newtownards Road. Then I saw a tiny group of protestors (numbering maybe 6 or 7) with an Orange parade approaching.

    I wondered whether the pathetic attendance at the protest was a reflection on the poor standing of the Provos in Short Strand following the McCartney murder?

    Or maybe people had better things to do. Like lying in bed.

  • Jacko


    Yes, the provisionals would prefer to have no protest rather than a badly attended one. Sign of the times, perhaps.

  • Alan2

    “Typical of the Orange Order. When will it ever sink in that NI isn’t their own little feifdom where they can flout the laws whenever they choose while, at the same time, demanding that everyone else abide by them?”

    I wonder did the Sinn Fein protestors who had road blocks throughout the province last week fill in parades commission forms?

    It seems pretty petty to me when the forms were filled in and the only wrong doing was signing collectively as a Lodge rather than an individual.

  • vespasian

    Fair deal

    If it is not within the law of any democracy then it is not acceptable, once you start to make exceptions you have anarchy.

    However the strength of a democracy is that it does tend to give people the reasonable right to protest, within the law, against things to which they object.

  • vespasian

    Alan 2

    Should the Inland Revenue accept your tax return signed by all your fellow employees or your passport application form signed by all your family. All forms have rules and instructions.

  • Alan

    It is a clearly accepted part of civil disobedience that you accept the punishment that an unjust law serves upon you as the whole point of the exercise.

    Those who organised the march and those that marched should accept that.

  • aquifer

    Never mind the marches for the minute. The Provos feed off the notion that the state and unionism oppresses catholics. This may be out of date, but it is entrenched in the imaginations of nationalists and needs to be dislodged, so to speak.

    If the OO believe in civil and religious liberty they should cut the formal link with the UU and have secular politics like anywhere else in the UK.

    The usual effect of formal Orange political interventions is to prevent a local settlement, sustaining the conditions of instability the IRA prefers.

    Having a second and third bite at power, through the ballot box, the party, and the lodge, is a privilege not worth having when others see power as coming out the barrel of a gun. Its one man one vote or pack your bags for britain.

    More lodges are dominated by diehards, DUP supporters, and paramilitaries now, making the UU link disfunctional for both the UU and Unionism.

    Oh, and they now make great patsies for Provo Provocation.

    Grand Lodge should reform before they help bring the whole house down, bringing in joint authority by commissars and ending political union with britain.

  • aquifer

    And no use lodge members looking to their party political members for guidance on this one, many of these cannot resist the extra logistical help and handy swing votes from time to time.

    The Brethren will have to make a strategic exit themselves. The friable fragile UUP are unlikely to initate the necessary split themselves.

  • Jimmy Sands


    Would you say it was a crime?

  • fair_deal


    The Inland revenue example is a false analogy. A tax return is a personal thing. A lodge parade involves dozens of individuals.

    You argue that civil disobedience is unacceptable. Fair enough it was the same argument used against Gandhi and the Civil Rights movement in America. Enjoy your bedfellows.

    Jimmy Sands

    I dont know if it is a crime. The DPP and courts will decide that. It will come down to whether or not the DPP or court thinks the Parades Commission should have accepted the form or not. If the Court deems the Commission was right then the parade participants will have committed a crime. Civil disobedience always runs the risk of punishment.

  • Alan2

    I wonder why the Republican parade in Strabane was allowed to go ahead with the marches dressed in combat Fatigues, Berets and Sun glasses? A picture in todays Newsletter of gerry Adams standing beside a woman dressed in military combats.

  • Christopher Stalford

    “I wonder why the Republican parade in Strabane was allowed to go ahead with the marches dressed in combat Fatigues, Berets and Sun glasses?”

    A perfectly reasonable question Alan. Funny I can’t seem to find the Parades Commission determination on that little Provo extravaganza on their web-site. I wonder why?

    As to the parade by LOL 710, it has taken place for more than a decade in memory of two UDR men who were killed by the IRA. It has never attracted controversy in the past. This latest episode merely confirms what many of us already think – that the Parades Commission is a part of the problem, and therefore cannot be a part of the solution. It should be scrapped.

  • George

    are you saying it should be left up to the Orange Order to decide when it should obey the police?

    The police told them twice that it was illegal so they broke the law. Is the Orange Order above the law in your view?

    We’ve seen the wholesale violence and public disorder that happened other times the Orange Order decided it was above the law.

    Surely the organisation has to say it will obey the police at all times and that it will punish those who break the law, regardless how justified those people feel?

  • Millie

    Were the two soldiers being commemorated members of the OO, otherwise what has one to do with the other?

  • davidbrew

    “Were the two soldiers being commemorated members of the OO?”

    yes- they were among the 200 victims of our organisation who don’t count, unlike the Finucanes of this world.

    “The Brethren will have to make a strategic exit themselves.”
    watch this space, aquifer!