Orange tradition betrayed?

The title of Chris’s piece below on the eminence of the Marching Season put me in mind of Brian Kennaway’s Rite and Reason slot in the Irish Times yesterday. He notes, “The Orange institution has often been maligned by those who are not only opposed to its ideals but to its very existence. Much of this criticism arises out of a lack of knowledge if the order’s principles, but some is a result of malevolence. It is difficult, humanly speaking, to deal with criticism which arises out of malevolence, for ‘the problem at the heart of man is man’s heart'”. Away from the hyperbole of current affairs, Roy Garland examines the nature of the religion/culture split pointed up by Kennaway in his book.

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  • Brian Boru

    I’m amused by the thesis that sectarianism has not traditionally been what the Orange Order has been about and that only recently has sectarianism reared its ugly head. Yeah right.

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    That does not appear to be the premise of the book. It arises out of a vigorous internal discussion within the Orange over its essential nature: ie is it cultural or religious. As I understand it, it’s a discussion about its future through revisiting core principles, and not about revising the past.

  • I think it would be good for the order to decide if it was a cultural, cultural/political or religious organisation. I’m not comfortable with the way it’s constitution reinforces the idea that only Protestants can be “Orange”.

  • The Beach Tree

    beano

    Surely the fact that the Order traces its roots to a war/revolution fought essentially on religious terms makes a religious context for that organisation inevitable?

    I would have thought, from my own ignorant standpoint, that since it also commemorates in its very name a battle between one proud King of Britain, and another proud King of Britain, over 100 years before the Act of Union even existed, that it’s modern incarnation of cultural unionism is the one that would be ‘dispensible’.

    Its political views arose from its religious ones, not the other way around. And in some senses that is the problem, being the political only as the tool of the spiritual.

    Or is the truth that the events that led to the Order’s existance (which were much more central to the history of Ireland than Great Britain) are in reality more important than the events it exists to commemorate?

  • slug

    If I was to pick out the things that the OO could be about, that would be positive values in the 21st century, it would be the 1688 settlement in which bottom-up power structres replaced top-down ones, ecclesiastical and political. Individual liberty, in other words.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    slug: “If I was to pick out the things that the OO could be about, that would be positive values in the 21st century, it would be the 1688 settlement in which bottom-up power structres replaced top-down ones, ecclesiastical and political. Individual liberty, in other words.”

    A pity its higest profile activity is marching / rioting season, neh? Those banners celebrating LVF murders fluttering bravely in the breeze…

    Part of the problem with the OO’s de-centralized, lodge oriented organization is that all it takes is one or two lodges full of yobs / LVF members to tar the whole group. However, once tarred, and as one examines the groups core values, such as its anti-Catholic stances, it becomes increasingly difficult to remove these stains.

  • The Beach Tree

    Dread Cthulhu

    Have you perhaps on something here?

    It is a truism that protestantism, culturally, is diverse and decentralised, while catholicism, culturally, is homogenous and centralised. (one might argue the NILT Surveys suggest otherwise, but anyway…)

    Is this truism actually true, and if so, to what extent do the two communities talk past each other. Are these perceptions fair, and are they part of the problem?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    TBT: “Is this truism actually true, and if so, to what extent do the two communities talk past each other. Are these perceptions fair, and are they part of the problem? ”

    Differences in perception lead to differences in understanding. While there is that oh-so-basic issue of human nature, where slights are remembered far longer than compliments, that the different organizational styles play into it as well would not shock.

    My original point, short version — the OO’s document trail would appear to reinforce the image their “bad apples ” provide on a yearly basis.

    Additional point: The OO’s triumphalism and celebration of centuries old battles holds the door open for other events to be brought into the discussion — the sort of events that the Unionists consider to be “unfair characterizations” of their forebears and should have no bearing on life in NI. Either the past must be a closed book to both sides, or it must be an open book to both sides. Cherry-picking events is just going to keep things where they are.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “Those banners celebrating LVF murders fluttering bravely in the breeze…”

    Looks like all that sumptuary has finally done for dread’s eyesight-didn’t know it caused hallucinations as well as incohernet ravings though :0)

  • Dread Cthulhu

    DR: “Looks like all that sumptuary has finally done for dread’s eyesight-didn’t know it caused hallucinations as well as incohernet ravings though :0) ”

    Play the ball… there have been several references that have gone unchallenged of OO marches with these banners.

    I find it amusing that its only when I reference them that you crawl out from under your Emperor’s robes to come make snide comments.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Its also amusing that you, on one hand, try to rationalize the presence of paramilitary banners in one thread (season of hate), whilst sniping at me for saying they exist in this one.

    Bad case of double-think there, mate. 😉

  • darth rumsfeld

    “there have been several references that have gone unchallenged of OO marches with these banners.”

    well if that’s so, it’s only because I haven’t seen them, and having a life I’m not on slugger24/7.

    Dread, I’ll make it simple for you. There ..are…no…Orange… banners…glorifying…LVF…murderers. Not one.Not even a sniff of one. Nowhere.
    And there never will be.

    Oh, and I humbly proffer some good advice on this thread for those who seem determined to harp on about this-
    “Cherry-picking events is just going to keep things where they are.”
    What wise man could have said that, I wonder?

  • darth rumsfeld

    “Its also amusing that you, on one hand, try to rationalize the presence of paramilitary banners in one thread (season of hate), whilst sniping at me for saying they exist in this one.

    Bad case of double-think there, mate. 😉

    Ooops. No I didn’t. I referred to an incident 10 years ago when action was taken to remove a band that broke our rules, and bemoaned the reasons for the police’s unwillingness to help with stronger action.
    Bad case of no-think there mate :0)

  • Dread Cthulhu

    DR, quoting a wise man: “Cherry-picking events is just going to keep things where they are.”
    What wise man could have said that, I wonder? ”

    Flattery will get you just about anywhere, Darth.

    That said, A) if I pull an extreme example, its because its harder to defend. And, yes, there were several specific examples cited previously on other threads; B) Its not *my* job to make *your* arguement, which leads us to C) when presented with mine own words, I must confess a touch, a very palpable touch.

    Therefore, in the spirit of toning down the rhetoric a notch or three, on the matter of “simple” paramilitary banners at OO marches, something you have already acknowledged as fact, what is your proposed solution? On the “season of hate” thread, you’ve already written off the OO growing a spine and telling them “no.” You’ve already written off the PSNI actually enforcing the law. What options are left?

    The only ones I can think of is the OO not inviting the offenders back next year, lighting a fire under the police (metaphorically) to enforce the law, lighting a fire (metaphorically) under the OO to police their parades or simply routing the lot of them outside of Nationalist areas.

    Any other suggestions?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    From the serializtion of the recent OO book, as reported in the BT, reagrding last year’s Whiterock parade:

    “The bannerette of Old Boyne Island Heroes LOL 633, bearing the likeness of Brian Robinson and the inscription “LATE BRO. B. ROBINSON UVF. KILLED 2nd SEPTEMBER 1989″, was clearly visible towards the beginning of the parade, and many of the accompanying bands were alleged to be paramilitary bands with direct connections to the UVF and the UDA. ”

    You got me… its wasn’t an LVF banner at all… my apologies.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “The only ones I can think of is the OO not inviting the offenders back next year,”-been done

    “lighting a fire under the police (metaphorically) to enforce the law”- been done- but that’s your job as well as mine. The plain fact is , every plod hates parades, and by extension dislike the Orange (though they used to like the Drumcree overtime money). Poor policing has allowed this particular problem to fester for at least ten years.
    “lighting a fire (metaphorically) under the OO to police their parades” – my example of 10 years ago ? Plus there are NVQs for stewards by the hundred, health and safety certificates, insurance requirements. The problem remains- if there wer an attempt to repeat the incident I referred to-who’s supposed to take on paramilitaries if not the police.

    “or simply routing the lot of them outside of Nationalist areas.”- and how exactly would that purge society of paramilitaries. Or is it implicit in the suggestion that the jaffas should be left in their own sink estates to parade till they drop under the jackboot of the loyalisty paramilitaries.

    I take your point about broadening the debate. The proper question you should be asking is how we get rid of paramilitarism- and if that means we shouldn’t work with individual paramilitaries ( a stance with which I happen to instinctively sympathise) then what do we do when there are paramiltaries in the Assembly, our local council, the restorative justice groups, community groups, residents groups-even the police?
    Greg posts about someone called Eddie McIlwaine, who is apparently an Orangeman, and former Shankill butcher. I agree his past is profoundly unpleasant, and i wish he weren’t an orangeman-assuming greg ro be right for once. But, how come his past is a clinching argument of the evil of Orangeism, yet to even mention Brendan McKenna, Gerard Rice or Donncha McNelis’s IRA pasts is an argument too far?
    And just how does the nationalist community stand up to/drive out paramilitarism anyway-Vote them to death?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    DR: “The only ones I can think of is the OO not inviting the offenders back next year,”-been done ”

    Except that last year’s Whiterock parade was apparently rife with UVF and UDA affiliates…

    DR: “my example of 10 years ago ? Plus there are NVQs for stewards by the hundred, health and safety certificates, insurance requirements. The problem remains- if there wer an attempt to repeat the incident I referred to-who’s supposed to take on paramilitaries if not the police.”

    Again — Whiterock had no shortage of UDA and UVF affiliates marching and at least one explicitly paramilitary banner…

    DR: ““or simply routing the lot of them outside of Nationalist areas.”- and how exactly would that purge society of paramilitaries. Or is it implicit in the suggestion that the jaffas should be left in their own sink estates to parade till they drop under the jackboot of the loyalisty paramilitaries. ”

    My primary concern is the annual rioting season, not cleaning up the OO’s messes for them. I will gleefully work towards draining the swamp, but let us first deal with the aligators.

    As for the paramilitaries — hey, if converting them into politicians and political activists keeps them out of mischief and worse, what’s the problem? I’d rather deal with a dozen annoying activists wanting my signature on this or that petition than a single bomb or riot. Hell, I’d settle for “converting” the incorrigables into simple “ODC”s and arresting them for their current crimes and let the past be hanged.

    Ironically, maybe that is nationalism’s advantage — by being political, there are things to do and places to go once the revolution ends…

  • Nic

    Isn’t it amazingly like what the crypto-provos that go to Parkhead and throw rocks at orangemen in Dublin did for Celtic’s reputation and what they have also been doing to the Irish national team’s good name?

    The “only a few bad apples” excuse holds true for a while, but bad apples attract other bad apples (misery loves company).
    Bad apples also get waaay more airtime than good apples. So the good apples usually just stop going to the games any more rather than cause a violent scene which would merely be bad apple behaviour in good apple clothes.
    They leave so unfussily that you hardly even notice they’re gone until the gate receipts are down and the policing costs are getting out of hand.

    To judge by the comments here today, it sounds like the Orange Order are (belatedly?) trying to find some good apples to put in camera shot and hopefully attract some more good apples back to the ground and marginalise the bad apples and all live happily ever after.

    Fair play to them for trying, you’d have to say (let’s be a good apple about this), but there’s a ways to go before they convert any sceptics like me about it.

  • stephen

    dread,

    ‘As for the paramilitaries—hey, if converting them into politicians and political activists keeps them out of mischief and worse, what’s the problem’?

    the problem is that you are admitting you are advocating the placing of paramilitaries into government over us all.

    Is that really a way forward?

    The facts remain bad apples on both sides, and the OO has bourne the brunt of a sf/ira campaign (admitted to by Adams at Athlone by the way), and is simply a case of republican’s intolerance towards anything british or protestant.

    Beano, why cant it be all three?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    stephen: “the problem is that you are admitting you are advocating the placing of paramilitaries into government over us all.

    Is that really a way forward?”

    Beats keeping them on as a paramilitaries, doesn’t it? Swords into plowshares and all that? The Nationalist guns were given up, the Nationalist criminality is coming under control — what more do you want? Any SF member of the last two generations is readily tarred with the “IRA” label, if only based on guilt by association — should tread water and wait for the “old guard” to die off? Is that progress?

  • Chris Donnelly

    “The Orange institution has often been maligned by those who are not only opposed to its ideals but to its very existence. Much of this criticism arises out of a lack of knowledge if the order’s principles, but some is a result of malevolence. It is difficult, humanly speaking, to deal with criticism which arises out of malevolence, for ‘the problem at the heart of man is man’s heart’”.

    Mick

    The Rev. Brian Kennaway’s book will undoubtedly make fascinating reading for people from across the religious and political spectrum. There’s no question but that his contribution will shine a light into the inner workings of the Orange Order and one man’s ideal of what the Order should be and what it has become.

    But his quote is disappointing in that it illustrates how even this brave dissenting voice from within Orangeism has not yet grasped how the vast majority of nationalists and republicans view the organisation to which he remains a passionate advocate.

    Speaking for myself- and I believe the large majority of nationalists- I don’t desire the banishment of the Orange tradition in Ireland; nor do I ‘misunderstand’ what the Order stands for.

    Rather, I base my opinions and beliefs about the Order on the words and deeds of that organisation.

    Accordingly, I see an institution which in many rural parts of the six counties provides a social function for the local protestant community- be it through membership of its lodges or through the use of its halls for social/ entertainment purposes.

    I also see an organisation to which many protestant people with passionate- and some with more lapsed- religious convictions belong,if only as a consequence of family ties or social relationships.

    But I also see an organisation which has played a shameful role in perpetuating a poisonous supremacist mentality amongst the unionist community in the north of Ireland.

    It is only natural that the Orange Order’s credentials as a religious organisation would be judged by the evidence placed before the nationalist community: a religious body which sought to bully its way through neighbouring communities, employing loyalists as members or as band accompaniments to bolster its menacing demeanour and ominous message.

    It is only natural that, as nationalists were presented with an organisation literally teeming with loyalist paramilitaries and cheer-leading the most extreme faction within political unionism, that they would judge the intentions and character of that organisation at face value.

    Yet, like everything else here, there is more to the Orange Institution, and its associated Orders.

    But it is really in the gift of those marching institutions to alter perceptions of their organisations by substantially altering not only their message, but also their delivery.

    In this, I am of course referring to the role of the Orders in cultivating what I deliberately labelled a ‘season of hate.’

    Perceptions of the Orange Order amongst nationalists will only alter when real change is in evidence: be that through open-ended dialogue with nationalists and their political leaders; or through a willingness to defuse tensions over parades by abandoning the doomsday language and simply taking a different route; or, most importantly in my mind, beginning to adopt a conciliatory language towards nationalists which openly respects the validity of the nationalist identity and tradition.

    The traditional routes mantra

    ‘There are no catholic areas. There are only areas temporarily occupied by catholics.’

    That was a mantra oft-repeated by

  • Chris Donnelly

    [Add on to unfinished part of last post]

    The traditional routes mantra

    ‘There are no catholic areas. There are only areas temporarily occupied by catholics.’

    That was a mantra oft-repeated by loyalists at the height of the Drumcree saga which, thankfully, would appear to have been consigned to history as the Order and it’s supporters began to realise that politics in the north of Ireland was entering a new phase.

    I have no doubt that the Order is changing; and, like all other political and religious institutions in Ireland in the recent past, it will no doubt find that change traumatic.

    But change it must; and for starters, it needs to recognise the de-stabilising role it unfortunately continues to play here on an annual basis through its long drawn out season of marching to yesteryear’s drum.

  • Conor Gillespie

    Lets look at their options for core ethos:
    1)Cultural
    2)Political
    3)Religious
    I don’t think they have much of a claim to being a purely religious order because their discrimination against Ulster Catholics goes far beyond actual doctrinal views. Example: Say I converted to Protestantism. Would I be allowed to join? No. If I then raised my child as a protestant would he be able to join? No. Why? because their definition of what it means to be a protestant goes far beyond the religious sense and is tinged with the planters mentality that most Catholics find so threatening in them. Is it then a cultural or political institution? If a Unionist Ulster Scot converted to Catholicism he certainly wouldn’t be able to join. I thin as it stands the order is really a combination of the three. Any effort to sipher out one of these elements might work on the top levels but it would certainly fall apart once it reached the grass roots.

  • Rory

    The Orange Order was established as an anti-Catholic organisation and has ever remained so. Without that motivation of founding principle, not alone cannot it not thrive, it simply cannot exist. It is the very raison d’etre of the organisation. Such organised manifestation of sectarian propaganda and pursuit is unacceptable in modern Europe.

    That is why it is now high time for its disbandment and for those who currently defend it to quietly slink away from the shame of their former association.