No pleasing some people

Brian Kennaway criticises proposals to promote a carnival atmosphere at Orange parades.

  • AodhRuadh

    It’s impoosible to conceive of those parades being any more entertaining.

  • seabhac siulach

    The question is, how do you make what are designed to be exclusive triumphalist parades into inclusive parades? How do you square a circle?
    Is the very exclusivity of the parades not the whole point, a cultural marker thrown down, a statement of some ancient (perceived) ‘superiority’ of religion/culture? If the whole community is taking part in some ‘Orangefest’, (what exactly would that entail, apart from the conservative middle-aged men solemmly walking down a road in two columns to the all-encompassing rhymic (Latino?) beat of a Lambeg drum? Not the most enticing prospect for the more modern members of society…), does that not mean that the Orange orders no longer need to exist? These are exclusive bodies by their very nature, so the idea that they share inclusive parades with the participation of all the community (i.e., ‘mere’ catholics!), is more than a little ridiculous…
    Are these parades political, cultural or religious? Before, the Orange orders think that they can foist them, in some sort of shallow PR branding (orangefest!), onto the 21st century, they should first address this point…
    Very few people would have anything against purely religious parades, if that is what floats your (middle-ages) boat…the triumphalist bombastic music and other imagery that belongs to another age (17th century…) should be cut out…

    If these parades are made to be inclusive, how is that ethos of the parades to be kept? Will that not destroy the whole point of the parades?

  • Mick Fealty

    SS, Kennaway’s answer is that it should not seek to be inclusive, since in essence the Orange is a religious, ie “Christ-centred, Bible-based, church grounded” organisation.

    The attempt to make it a cultural event seems to be the focus of his criticism of the OrangeFest idea:

    I also detect a searching for a renewed, if not new, cultural identity within Orangeism. This is seen in the relationship of the order to the Ulster-Scots tradition and to the commemoration of the sacrifice at the Somme during the first World War.

    The theological make-up of the Orange institution at its foundation was largely Church of Ireland (Anglican). Even given the Ulster dominance within the institution in the 21st century, it should be remembered that the plantation stock of Ulster was made up both of Ulster-Scots Presbyterians and English Episcopalians. The Anglican influence appears to have been forgotten by some.

    So what about our Anglo-Irish heritage? An answer is to be found in the March 1999 edition of the Orange Standard. There, in an article by RG McDowell, we discover it is “extinct”:

    “The United Irishmen got their name as they were supposed to be an alliance between the Irish, the Scots-Irish and some radical element of the now extinct Anglo-Irish.”

    He seems to be arguing that if it becomes cultural, it is likely to become fixed in one cultural paradigm and lose touch with what he sees as its ecumenical (in terms of Protestant society) and religious character.

  • Stiofán de Buit

    I’ve just had a horrible vision of a big float with lots of Belfast millies on it dressed like Carmen Miranda.

  • seabhac siulach


    So it seems that I am, in reality, agreeing with Mr. Kennaway. There is a need for the Orange, in my opinion, to engage or should that be re-engage solely with the religious side of things and leave the cultural/historical baggage to one side. As I say, no one would surely object to purely religious parades, shorn as they were of all the paraphernalia of triumphalism (which looks a bit out of place nowadays anyway in the ruin of the 6 counties and the independently booming 26 counties to the South).
    There is a basis in believing this, as the Royal Black Preceptory, being more religious in nature, already has the least contentious and more broadly accepted (and dignified) parades.

    There is, however, a problem with the idea that one can have merely religious parades (taking into account the Anglican tradition in the Orange as Kennaway suggests). It is to do with the fact that in the Anglican tradition, the political and religious sides are tied together under the theocracy that reigns over the UK, that is the Queen who as head of state and also head of the Anglican church brings together in her person a union of religion and politics. How else does one explain the curious sight of the Union flag flying over Anglican churches during July? The equivalent idea of an Irish tricolour flying over a Catholic church is hard to imagine. This union of church and state within Anglicism and, therefore, within any Orange order celebrating Protestantism, means that the union and the Queen is, in effect, being celebrated in any parade that is celebrating Protestantism. Perhaps, there is, therefore, a need for a much wider (UK-wide) separation of Church and state…

    Kennaway says:
    ‘…the Orange is a religious, ie “Christ-centred, Bible-based, church grounded” organisation.” ‘

    That is not how they come across to the majority of the nationalist community…where the cultural/historical aspects of these parades are more in evidence. What do marching bands of youths, dressed up in militaristic uniforms, and playing military sounding fife and drums, have to do with ‘Christ-centred, Bible-based, church-grouded organisations’? What do the paramilitary hangers-on to these parades have to do with religion? How many times has the cry of ‘UVF, UVF’, for example, been heard at any number of these events? And, I do not think they are referring to the UVF of 1912…!

  • me

    and even if they were referring to the 1912 UVF that organisation was a anti-democratic disgrace.

  • Yokel

    Kennaway can go get stuffed, he’s starting to believe his own publicity.

    These parades are designed for boozing,loud noisemaking and sticking out of chests and may they forever stay that way whilst they still exist.

  • eranu

    the attraction of a religious centred parade would be difficult in todays society. the problem is that 80-90% of society has turned its back on Christianity. alot are actually hostile to Christianity and like to sneer and poke fun. unfortunately, the public would prefer to see a carnival type parade with scantily clad girls on floats.

    saying that, the organisation is supposed to be Christian based, so it should definitely keep its focus on that. if it changed its focus from politics and the like to promoting Christianity, then it could be a force for good in society. as far as i know the african lodges are this way. i remember seeing something on tv about them once.
    In Northern Ireland they have a long way to go from the ‘anti’ image they have today to a ‘pro good things’ image.

    on parades –

    JAZZ THEM UP A BIT with floats and colourful costumes, reduce the military uniforms and flags. This would give something interesting to look at.

    DO decorate the streets NEATLY.

    DONT hang loads of flags at all angles and stuck to bits of wood and tied up with bits of old rope.

    DO hang colourful bunting neatly and at the same level along the street.

    one final word – FLOWERS !!

    hanging baskets of flowers make anywhere look nice. i cant think of any orange flowers but im sure there are some.

    Actually looking good would be a first step to improving their image.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    i cant think of any orange flowers but im sure there are some.


  • eranu

    know any, i think they’re called, ‘creeper’ type plants with orange flowers? something that would hang out of a basket. a display of plants with different shapes, sizes and textures would be much better looking hanging from a lamppost than half an ulster flag on a bit of wood..

  • Chico

    I’ve lived in Brazil for years and never heard of Mardi Gras here; that’s in New Orleans. Down here it’s Carnaval and Drew might be onto something; a few half naked Orange lasses on floats might crack the Garvahy Rd problem; worth trying!

  • Rory

    If the Twalfth is to be as the Mardi Gras in Rio then why not Ballymena as European Town of Culture
    as a little trial run?