See no evil, hear no evil, speak no sense…

THE performance of the Orange Order in the public eye over the past few days has been shambolic. There is no doubt that the reputation of the Order internationally and at home is in dire straits, even when the opportunity is handed to it on a plate. Former UUP MP David Burnside reckons even the Mafia have better PR (though fortunately he sidestepped such a position himself early in his career). The Order’s inability to provide leadership or accept any responsibility is a lesson in how to lose friends and not influence anyone.

  • missfitz

    David Burnside recognises Unionism’s recent own-goals in this piece, but I was rather disappointed that he does nothing to back up his contention about the Mafia and PR. I never thought Cosa Nostra was particularly good about PR, nor would I have imagined that the OO would have seen it as an organisation worthy of emulation. Perhaps that is a tale in itself

  • aquifer

    PIRA’s change of tactics has completely wrongfooted the marching men.

    PIRA are exchanging contrained warfare for low level disorder and intimidation, entrenchment of single-identity areas, and building states within states financed by criminality. The OO cannot enlist the state’s help in suppressing this by their preferred expressions of ethnic supremacy and pedestrian terrorism, especially aided by paramilitary criminals who share the same ghetto ambitions as PIRA. In the last weeks we have witnessed the rage of the clueless and leaderless, choreographed by on the run drug dealers with paygo mobile phones.

    By refraining from murder and large scale destruction, PIRA spare their supporters stiff sentencing and lessen the risk of injury at the hands of the state. The airtime terrorism of islamofascism has also helped to develop effective counters to armed insurgency and make irish traditional terror unsustainable in any terms. In contrast, low level intimidation backed by still armed gangs in single identity areas is often invisible and very difficult for conventional policing to counter.

    And in the end the Provisionals do not need an armed wing other than for well judged or covert provocation and intimidation, due to a large electoral base and concentrated support in many areas.

    The OO are now making the Union with other UK citizens unsustainable by their outlandish behaviour.

    That their so-called leaders have not noticed and taken corrective action denotes an historic failure.

    Unionism as a functional political movement capable of recruiting those of any religion and none is dead.

    Didn’t like the 71% NI GFA vote? Roll on the 51% republican result.

  • Padraig

    Ah, Its all the IRA’s doing!! The wicked old clever clogs!! How devilish!!! And the poor Orange Order gets the blame. Yes the Provies probably slipped a Micket Finn in the Orange leades drink before that awful Press Conference. Sue ye can’t be watchin ’em.

  • nmc

    Well said Padraig, I love the way that when the loyal crowd do something WRONG that it always comes down to SF and the IRA. Accept some responsibility, it’ll do you good.

  • Denny Boy

    David Burnside wrote:

    “Just wait to see how smug Adams and co will be when another act of decommissioning takes place, whether a con-job or not. Sinn Fein/IRA will regain a dubious high ground with more sympathy from the public, media and parliament than for our own unionist cause.”

    Does Mr Burnside not WANT decommissioning? Excuse me, but I thought that’s the main issue unionist politicians have been bleating about since the signing of the GFA.

    Honestly, there’s no pleasing some people.

  • Fermanagh Young Unionist

    Does Mr Burnside not WANT decommissioning? Excuse me, but I thought that’s the main issue unionist politicians have been bleating about since the signing of the GFA.

    Well its not a case of if unionists want it or not but instead a case of when the Unionists will get it

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    The problem I think that Mr. Burnside may have underestimated is the extent to which one can massage away substantial differences by way of effective PR. Obviously as a PR professional he has great faith in that and whilst messaging can make a big difference the assumption is that everything in the world is really perception with no substance.

    The sad truth for unionism to face may be that the reason that traditionally stalwart publications like the Daily Mail don’t support the marches is that fundamentally they differ in their substantial view of the purpose and meaning of the marches. In Burnsides world they are colorful expressions of community identity but to many others they are perceived as aggressive symbols of communal dominance and power. Personally I think the truth is somewhere in between these two. The marches do have a power meaning but equally they are an expression of community identity and the power relationship is part of why they become so important to many in the unionist community. The difficulty with a purely PR based assessment of this is that it might miss the core substance of the marches and miss the real reason why the marches fail to find significant support on the mainland. In that sense Burnside might be right about the bad PR of the OO but it really may be a dead horse that would be being beaten ultimately and no amount of skillful PR could alter that fact.

  • Denny Boy

    Yes, Duncan, but you must consider it from the Daily Mail’s, i.e. Middle England’s point of view. I live right smack here in the “middle” and can report with reasonable accuracy how the OO marches come across. Not to put too fine a point on it, they are not seen as the “colourful expressions of community identity” as you put it, but as sorry spectacles.

    It’s hard to escape the fact that some of the marchers look downright ridiculous, if not a little pathetic. Shaven heads, tattoos and pilsener bellies are not pretty sights either. When one adds the paramilitary memorabilia, drunkenness, anti-Fenian taunts, and the sort of aggressive behaviour we recently witnessed, then even the most optimistic PR expert must see the massaging of the OO image as a truly Sisyphusian uphill struggle.

    You tell me that Mr Burnside is a “PR professional”. This may be so but I have to say I’ve never seen him making much of a fist of his very own image. No doubt he’s a splendid chap who stands his round, but my abiding image of him is of a dour, unsmiling man who seems to me to be the very epitome of the “bitter Orangeman”. That might be something he could work on for a start.

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    I resisted the temptation to comment on Burnsides own image problems.

    If you look again the point you make is not a million miles away from the very one I was actually making. To clarify. My point is also that PR can not rejuvenate the image of that which is utterly alien to mainland opinion. In your desire to be contrarian you seemed to have missed that.

  • Denny Boy

    Sorry, Duncan, I don’t believe I’m being contrary. You say that “Personally I think the truth is somewhere in between” the OO being aggressive and being colourful.

    I disagree. Their colours are the colours of hatred and intolerance, not of jollity and Christian feeling. This is how Britain and the rest of the world perceives them (and yes, perception is ALL in the times we live in). Unfortunately for the OO, the perception fairly accurately reflects the reality.

    PR can change this, but there has to be better material to work with. You can’t have a PR professional giving sound advice on the one hand, and an idiot like Dawson Baillie undoing the good work each time he opens his mouth.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    “David Burnside recognises Unionism’s recent own-goals in this piece, but I was rather disappointed that he does nothing to back up his contention about the Mafia and PR. I never thought Cosa Nostra was particularly good about PR, nor would I have imagined that the OO would have seen it as an organisation worthy of emulation. Perhaps that is a tale in itself”

    The Mafia — La Cosa Nostra — had decent PR, originally — at least decent PR for a criminal excercise. This is to say when they started, they struggled to stay below the radar, when they hit the big time with Prohibition, they sought to present themselves as “businessmen filling a need,” although the Chicago beer wars settled that notion, aided in national security during the Second World War, were staunchly anti-communist in the Fifties… it wasn’t untill the Appalachin meeting in the late fifties and the politics of the Sixties and the Kennedy brothers that things started to go off the rails for them — ironic, since Sam Giancana aided the Daley machine in Chicago to get the elder Kennedy elected, by most accounts. Appalachin and the subsequent hearings and hooplah gave a peak at just how big the Mafia was, while the Sixties brought Bobby Kennedy and drugs center stage.

    The orange order, in more recent days, has just been a mess, right down to the incoherent mope standing in front of the camera not understanding the difference between “condone” and “condemn.”