Bigger crowds, fewer Orangemen…

THE Orange Order reckons this year’s Twelfth parades will attract more people into Belfast than ever before, according to the Beeb. Of course, they could be going shopping, now that retailers can open on ‘Orangefest’ and public transport is running. Ironically, the larger crowds could be watching the smallest number of Orangemen on parade in decades.

Grand Secretary Drew Nelson blames the increasing secularisation of society for the dwindling numbers. However, fundamentalist uber-Prod Rev Stephen Dickinson reckons the opposite is true – it’s the Order that has become more secular, and he’s blaming “modernisers” for its destroying the institutions traditional religious outlook and practices.

Mind you, tradition seems to have led into a bit of a cul-de-sac on the Garvaghy Road. But could a willingness to talk the talk, as well as walk the walk, take the Order down the road of compromise? Drumcree-style confrontation might be good for membership numbers, but it didn’t work and compromise for the greater good would probably be better appreciated by society… although it takes two to tango.

  • ed

    Again the solution on the table for Garvaghy road works perfectly so why mess with success

  • Cushy Glenn

    Just before all the Orange bashers get over excited, the sad fact is that for decades noone really knew the true membership of the Orange Order, and happily dragged out the “100000” guesstimate- which naturally the OO wasn’t going to deny. It has indeed endured a gradual decline in membership in the past two decades, but nothing like as large as now trumpeted, and is weathering the attack of the me generation much better than other fraternal societies such as masonry, the churches, and even youth orgnaisations like the scouts and BB. The best empirical research placed membership in 2003 on a par with 1904, in the inter HOme Rule doldrums

    More importantly it has diversified, and there are now many Orange families, with new roles for women and juveniles in credit Unions, Ulster Scots community groups etc. They may not pay a sub or attend a meeting, but these people are committed to the project. It’s only in Belfast that the decline has been significant, and that’s been partly because of the urban flight to the suburbs, which broke up working class community spirit, and was never adequately replicated in Carrick, Bangor and Lisburn. So we’re going to be around for a long time yet. So sorry to disappoint

  • Seymour Major

    I see that the low membership of Orangemen is blamed on the continuing fall in the numbers who attend churches.

    Could it also be that part of the decline is due to more Protestants regarding the Orange Order as being incompatible with Christianity? The OO has its own critics from within Protestantism. (See e.g. http://www.evangelicaltruth.com/Q+A.htm)

  • “it takes two to tango.”

    These old clichés have their limitations, BG, especially when you look at the complexities of the Drumcree confrontation. There were far more players than just Portadown District LOL and Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition. For example, my Episcopalian relatives who used to live in that part of Portadown didn’t leave because of a death threat they received from GRRC; they left because of a credible death threat from PIRA.

    PS What’s with the ‘uber’ language? Are you a closet member of Combat 18? 😉

  • Ms Wiz

    Many Protestants joined the OO not for it’s religious ideals and virtues but for the simple reason that it gave you a better chance of finding a job. Jobs were always hard to come by in NI, and joining your local lodge gave you an advantage because more than likely you would rub shoulders with the bosses of local industry, big shopowners, landowners etc who were almost always to a man, Protestant and Orangemen. The Order held a unique position in NI and basically functioned, among other things, as a jobcentre.

    Since the bad old good old days, the old industries have disappeared to be replaced by nothing, new multinationals from abroad have moved in, Stormont-style majority rule has gone, Fair Employment legislation has been introduced, Catholic participation in the labour market has increased…in short, everything has changed irrevocably.

    No-one joins the Order today because there’s no point.

  • Rory Carr

    I wonder is there any correlation between the decline in the membership of the Orange Order and the increase in the number of people applying to appear on Big Brother, Wife Swap, Britain’s Got Talent, Come Dine With Me and other television shows designed to exploit the gormless. There must surely be a finite number of cretins around at any one time and all bodies that rely upon them to function cannot be satisfied at the same time.

  • Greenflag

    nevin,

    ‘it takes two to tango’

    Old cliches have their uses;) On the basis of certain truth in the cliche above the secret to future 12th excitement lies in the potential attractions of mutual flag burning . An agreement could I’m sure be reached with the OO and their disloyal opposition that for every Irish tricolour burned on a orange bonfire (republican observers will be tasked with counting the number) then double that number of Union Jacks will be burned in a field outside Dungannon on the 13th (while the orangemen are still sobering up ) . Outraged orangemen will then burn double the number of tricolours as union jacks on the 14th -this will then be doubled on the 15th by republicans burning double the number of union jacks on the 16th and on the 17th the number of tricolours will be doubled for public burning on the 18th double the number of union jacks and so on etc etc etc until by Sept 1 by geometric progression every available field in Northern Ireland will be full of flags ready for burning . Now if this does’nt attract tourists what will ?

    By mid september negotiations will have to take place with the Republic and Scottish Governments for permission to use nearby fields in their jurisdictions to accomodate the ever expanding flag burning rituals .

    Flag manufacturers in China will be over the moon with the increased demand for their product which within a few months should help the Chinese economy to recover from recession? Messrs Robinson and McGuinness will be invited to the Great Hall of the People in Beijing to be honoured with the highest award available to non Chinese people in recognition of their successful sectarian efforts to promote growth in the Chinese economy !

    Still better they burn flags instead of people eh 🙁

  • SM

    So what is the point of the OO? In spite of being someone who would be put in the prod box by those into categorizing the whole of NI into two boxes I have never seen the point of it. Other than providing further opportunities for paramilitary bands to parade, and loyalists to watch, get drunk and drop vast amounts of litter, I am not aware that they do anything. Oh yes they do waste £millions of my tax money by having a number of contentious routes which require the police to sort out…

    I’m all for people following strange and colourful traditions but not when it attracts vast amounts of anti-social behaviour and wastes police resources.

  • Rory Carr

    Bigger crowds, fewer Orangemen…

    and, if they indulge in the traditional feasting on Buckfast ‘n’ burgers throughout the day, in the evening it will be:

    Fewer crowds, but BIGGER Orangemen…

  • SM, it would seem that the OO and the Catholic Church fulfil and have fulfilled similar political cum religious roles for those of opposing constitutional aspirations here.

  • Is China a good example, Greenandorangeflag? Raisins to be cheerful:

    “My taxi driver knew something was happening ahead and he asked us to roll up the window,” Zhao said, “Then about seven to eight rioters wielding wooden rods and rocks besieged our taxi. Our driver got out and tried to stop them, but failed.”

    The rioters pulled Zhao and his wife out of the taxi and beat them with wooden rods studded with pitons. Zhao’s glasses were broken, his shirt was torn apart and his watch was stolen.”

    That sort of thing could easily happen in Dublin or Portadown.

  • kensei

    Nevin

    SM, it would seem that the OO and the Catholic Church fulfil and have fulfilled similar political cum religious roles for those of opposing constitutional aspirations here.

    I wasn’t aware the OO did Baptisms and the like, Nevin. This is pure ignorance.

  • greenflag

    Nevin ,

    ‘Is China a good example’ ?

    I was’nt suggesting they were good examples for anything merely that they would profit from a mass flag burning ritual eas part of NI’s annual tourism appeal program events ;).

  • Kensei, please note my use of similar not same for the ‘umbrella’ roles provided by the two organisations, especially during periods of political upheaval.

    Sean Brady has identified with the following sentiments, sentiments which describe a form of self-imposed apartheid:

    After partition Northern Nationalists kept a respectful distance from the State
    and became ‘a society within a society’. The Catholic Church was the key institution
    in integrating the community and clerical leadership was important. There was an
    intertwining of Catholicism, Irish culture and political nationalism.

    The OO and the Catholic Church have to some degree lost out to the ‘controlling’ influence of paramilitary ‘heid yins’.

  • !!

    I wasn’t aware the OO did Baptisms and the like, Nevin. This is pure ignorance.

    Nor do they do institutionalised child abuse….feckin eejit.

  • Frank

    I wasn’t aware the OO did Baptisms and the like, Nevin.

    One of its sister organisations do a kind of baptism !!

    “The Royal Arch Purple candidate is taken round the Chapter room three times, the floor of which is covered in branches and brambles, so as to ensure the journey is one of obvious suffering for the barefooted candidate.

    “During his three journeys …, the candidate (without warning) is violently whipped on his legs with brambles and branches by the assembled brethren.

    “This practice normally results in varying amounts of cuts and bruises to the initiate…

    “The whipping of the initiate’s legs and the barefooted travel over brambles and branches is painfully endured by the candidate, to the accompaniment of hilarious laughter from all those present, many imitating goat bleats (reminding the candidate of his impending ‘ride on the goat’).

    “This deeply offensive practice is carefully designed to further humiliate the nervous candidate. Amazingly, such ridiculous buffoonery is accompanied by the reading of Holy Scripture.” Mr Malcomson is even more severe in his condemnation of a later part of the initiation which is known as “riding the goat”.

    “After the gravity of his obligation is further impressed upon the candidate, the assembled Chapter gather at the back of the steps (‘Jacob’s Ladder’) and unfold a large canvas blanket.

    “The blindfolded initiate, who has his back to the blanket, is then told to cross his arms whilst still kneeling upon the representation of a coffin.

    “He is then asked…”In whom do you put your trust?’. The nervous candidate answers “God”, whereupon…..he receives a violent push backwards on to the blanket. Here he undergoes one of the most painful and humiliating experiences within the Royal Arch Purple chapter ceremony, when he is brutally kicked and tossed upon the blanket by the assembled Chapter for a number of minutes. This practice is known as ‘riding the goat’.

  • pete whitcroft

    The members of the OO are increasingly secular as they are loyalists first and Christians second or third or fourth.

  • kensei

    Nevin

    Kensei, please note my use of similar not same for the ‘umbrella’ roles provided by the two organisations, especially during periods of political upheaval.

    Go split hairs somewhere else.

    Sean Brady has identified with the following sentiments, sentiments which describe a form of self-imposed apartheid:

    Nevin, go back and source the original article. I have already done it four times for you. Leaving it a year and I still don’t forget. You are misquoting and having told you previously, you are doing it dishonestly. I do not approve.

  • kensei

    Just to be clear, because this irritates the hell out of me, what he said was:

    In the midst of such discrimination and a deep sense of alienation from the Northern State, the structures of education, health, parish and community provided by the Catholic Church, made it a very natural alternative source of political and cultural identity for Northern Nationalists. As one commentator
    explains:

    He’s quoting, and you’re a goddamned liar, Nevin

  • Gréagoir O Frainclín

    “Bigger crowds, fewer Orangemen…”

    So at this rate will they eventually die out?

  • Kensei, I merely put up the quote that Sean was identifying with – and that quote is fairly straightforward, it’s an expression of self-imposed apartheid.

    As for Sean’s own words, they would have greater credibility if this self-imposed apartheid had been introduced in the light of experience of the Stormont system. It wasn’t, it was there from the beginning, even as the ink was drying on the official documents.

    Now I’m not going to call Sean a liar. He seems a very decent man. However, his knowledge of the history of that period appears not to be sufficiently comprehensive.

  • kensei

    Nevin

    Kensei, I merely put up the quote that Sean was identifying with – and that quote is fairly straightforward, it’s an expression of self-imposed apartheid.

    He does not “identify with” them. I quote many people on here; I do not necessarily “identify with” them. He quotes the, and uses them in a specific manner to illustrate a point. It is just down right dishonest to use them as if they were his own words.

    And if his own words does not suit your argument, then do not bother quoting them, then. 100% wrong here.

  • Kensei, you appear to be into hair-splitting as well as misrepresentation. Sean made an inaccurate point and attempted to emphasise that point with the quote. I’ve always presented the quote as a quote, never as his own words. Would you have been happier if I’d called Sean dishonest/a liar? I’m happy to settle for ‘inaccurate’.

  • kensei

    Nevin

    I’ve always presented the quote as a quote, never as his own words.

    Nonsense. Here is what you said.

    Sean Brady has identified with the following sentiments, sentiments which describe a form of self-imposed apartheid:

    Far from calling him inaccurate, you are using him to back your point. And it is not at all clear form taht is what you are actually doing is quoting him, quoting someone else for his own purposes. You’ve removed him from the context.

    Which makes you dishonest, frankly.

  • “And it is not at all clear form taht ..”

    Just keep on waffling, Kensei. I don’t suppose an apology is too much to ask for … 😉

  • kensei

    Nevin

    Just keep on waffling, Kensei. I don’t suppose an apology is too much to ask for … 😉

    Apologise for what? You have quite clearly misused what was said, attributing without making clear it was a quote and stripping it of all and any context. Furthermore, blethering on about inaccuraces and disagreements makes no sense when you were using to support your own point!

    I guess your chance of an apology are about the same as mine of getting a retraction from you.

  • “And it is not at all clear form taht ..”

    “You have quite clearly misused what was said”

    Ah, you’re the great one for the blether. Maybe when you make up your mind, Kensei …

  • kensei

    Nevin

    It is not at all clear from that it is a quote, it is clear you have misused what was said. Are you now taking the piss?

  • It, er, doesn’t seem to be clear to you, Kensei. Just follow my hyperlink back to Sean’s speech – and ease up on the hyper-ventilating. I can also identify with the quote; I disagree with Sean on the chronology of this self-imposed apartheid.

  • kensei

    Nevin

    A hyperlink does not cut it when you’ve misrepresented in the main piece. You’ll start me on effective use of hyperlinks again.

  • Kensei, I’ll leave the misrepresenting to you 😉 What’s getting you all so steamed up anyway? As others might say, a child of ten could see I wasn’t quoting Sean. Also, I’ve gone pretty easy on his mistaken chronology.

    Now if you can’t tell the difference been a quote and an identification I’m not sure that your exposition on the effective use of hyperlinks would be all that helpful.