Orange struggles with modernity, whilst nationalism struggles with a new supremicism…

In the last few days I’ve been re-reading Brian Kennaway’s book The Orange Order: A Tradition Betrayed. It’s pretty obvious that, esoterically speaking at least, one of the things that the order is struggling with, and probably has struggled with for much longer than the lasat contentious 10/15 years, is modernity itself. This is probably less obvious in rural areas where religion of all types has retained a surer grip on the affections of its people than in Belfast. Roy Garland points there have been some improvements in recent years which have in turn led to significant internal tensions:

Attempts to reform the Orange Institution are under way. This is not easy given that many Orangemen seem fearful and hidebound by tradition.

Twelfth speeches illustrate the difficulty. When grand master Robert Saulters welcomed Orange attempts to reach beyond itself he stirred reactionary fears. Rev Stephen Dickinson launched a vicious attack on his fellow Orangemen saying some were seeking changes to allow attendance at weddings and funerals in Catholic churches. He also condemned Orange leaders for meeting Archbishop Sean Brady.

In doing so Dickinson highlights the fact that significant changes are afoot. Not that the prohibition was ever uniformly enforced. As one Catholic priest pointed out, the ban on countenancing “Popish worship” is not unlike the way Christian Churches once scandalously denied each other’s legitimacy.

Garland argues that the Orange need to get into dialogue, and quickly, with people they previously viewed as enemies and accept that there are places they may now never walk again. But he notes, Ardoyne, where the recent nationalist rioting took place, is not one of them:

Orangemen walking past Ardoyne shops should offend no one. The parade does not pass through an exclusively nationalist area and Ardoyne residents can shelter behind the shops.

Protestants opposite have in the past been attacked by hordes of nationalist youths emerging from Ardoyne. They feel intimidated and fear that, under cover of parade disputes, attempts are being made to drive them out.

The riotous youths and their godfathers don’t want accommodation. A persecuting mindset, reminiscent of Nazi attitudes towards Jews, informs them.

But Kennaway writing in the Irish Times argues that the Orange Institution must recognise some of the darkness in its own midst, and stop treating their neighbours as they were blind, or stupid, or both; if it is to stand the least chance of turn its own failing fortunes around:

In reality it is also the paramilitary influence and connections evident in some areas which prevents people with “high standards” from joining.

People in local communities know “who’s who”. When they see paramilitary members, and in some cases leaders, walking with an Orange Lodge they are far from impressed. In some cases the paramilitary connection is not revealed until a death notice appears in the press, from both their lodge and the particular paramilitary organisation.

There comes a critical point in every organisation when issues have to be faced as to whether or not the organisation can be sustained. With rising costs having to be met from an ever-declining and aging membership, the Orange Institution is coming closer to that critical point by the day.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • > People in local communities know “who’s who”. When they see paramilitary members, and in some cases leaders, walking with an Orange Lodge they are far from impressed. In some cases the paramilitary connection is not revealed until a death notice appears in the press, from both their lodge and the particular paramilitary organisation.

    Learn something new every day. I’d always been told that the ex-paramilitaries tended to be in the bands that were hired to accommpany the lodges, rather than members of the Orange lodges themselves.

  • kensei

    nationalism struggles with a new supremicism…

    What do you mean “nationalism”? “Nationalism” isn’t struggling with anything of the sort. A subsection of dissidents are causing trouble and the only thing “nationalism” or “republicanism” is how to deal with them without causing more problems. And this is hardly a “new” line for you in any case.

    This is a problem in a specific area with a specific group of people and needs dealt with as such rather than giant brush wiped over the lot of us, Mick.

    Orangemen walking past Ardoyne shops should offend no one. The parade does not pass through an exclusively nationalist area and Ardoyne residents can shelter behind the shops.

    Protestants opposite have in the past been attacked by hordes of nationalist youths emerging from Ardoyne. They feel intimidated and fear that, under cover of parade disputes, attempts are being made to drive them out.

    Fantastic. Garland violates Godwin before we’ve even started. One would ask why Nationalist residents of Ardoyne should have to hide behind anything in any case.

    I’m not entirely unsympathetic. The problem is that whether or not you believe that this is a justified in the context of other contentious parades, there is a fair whack of people in the area that see it in exactly the same light. And while the OO hires Queen tribute acts rather than dealing with some of the underlying beefs Nationalism has with it, then it makes a rather easy target to stoke Nationalist resentment. I’m concious of some of the parallels between this and racist attacks in loyalist areas. It’s not quite the same in that there are at least some legitimate beefs against the OO, but at the end of the day rioting and attack people’s homes is just as wrong and clear messages to that effect need sent.

    Ideally this should be tightly policed until it stops and SF should be supporting it, not least on the grounds they are trashing their own areas. But there are pragmatic issues here. For a start, the police situation isn’t going to get any better, which leaves SF with few options. And I have heard fairly worrying things from Ardoyne lately regarding dissidents. While I don’t think it is particularly large, the dissidents would love to draw SF into a fight with them and try to peel off mroe people. Would that result in us being net better or net worse off? Hmmm, I’m nto sure SF would come off better without something to show.

    The OO refusing to talk to SF to try and openign some possibility of an alternative path does not help here.

  • kellmor

    Give your head a shake Roy, – godfathers ,tit for tat? Strange ( and rather jaded ) turns of phrase for such a liberal champion.

  • Different Drummer

    The OO and The Management of Modernity

    Since the subject was raised by myself some years ago on the list I feel I should clarify what I mean as it is not the same meaning you are putting forward here MIck.

    My point was that *opposition* to modernity was the definite policy of Loyalists and Unionist ultras right from the beginning of the troubles and not just the fact that they had trouble coping with it.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Ah come on Mick my head needs a break form discussing all this (plus your distracting me from my work). But you know i cant resist…
    I think i pretty much agree with what you say, it is coming close to the time for a full review of who and what the Order is, with all options on the table, most of the current changes are on the ground and not obivious to all, and it is also quite patchy across the country, with the most progressive lodges often being in areas where Protestants are a minority.
    It has to face the reality it will continue to decline in numbers as society has changed, and you cant go back, the most obivious area that is rarely mentioned is the role of Women, I know the issue of opening Lodges to women (as apart from having a womans lodge) was raised in our district a few year ago and most seemed to be in favour in principle, just the practicalities of making it work would need some work.
    The Orange will never be the force it once was last centuary, but for my lifetime at least it will still remain a strong influence and vital part of the community here.

  • fin

    There’s a certain arrogance in not addressing why a section of the public who do not like the OO or are just disinterested should have a day/days disruption with road closures and parades.

    An immediate compromise would be to turn Orange Order Marches into Orange Order Jogs and get the whole thing out of the way in a fraction of the time.

    Having seen the obese state of a lot of band members on th BBC this year it would be of benefit to everyone. It’s getting more like the Obese Order, I don’t think many of them have been near an Orange or any type of fruit in a long time.

    I’m guessing the medals that ever other band member seem to be wearing was for winning pie eating competitions, possibly the Duke of Edinburgh could be present at a finishing line and hand out additional medals to the bands that got there the quickest.

    Spectators could practice for the event by watching old recordings on fastforward prior to next years 12th.

    Alternatively the DUP could insist on all future disputes, elections, border polls etc been settled not by votes but by the combined weight of those in favour or against, in which case unionisn could probably defeat the UN

  • otto

    The Orange Order has to stir up resentment so that it can maintain its claim to be a champion of protestant rights.

    Without this opposition the order cannot survive in a pluralist Northern Ireland with a protestant majority and a constitutional position agreed with the nationalist minority. It simply has no relevance.

    The Orange Order’s best hope is a united Ireland and evolution to the same representative role played by the Ancient Order of Hibernians in the USA.

  • Greenflag

    ‘one of the things that the order is struggling with, and probably has struggled with for much longer than the last contentious 10/15 years, is modernity itself.

    The Orange Order is not the only institution on this island that’s struggling with ‘modernity’ . If the much more powerful RC Church is falling apart at the seams because of it’s failure to maintain it’s grip on an increasingly secular country why would anyone not expect the OO to have similar problems ? Compounding the Orange Order’s difficulties is it’s still quasi political role in NI politics and it’s perception by the vast majority of Irish nationalists as not just an anti Catholic organisation but also anti Irish . Admittedly there are a few lodges that rise above that generalisation but they are far too few.

    ‘Rev Stephen Dickinson launched a vicious attack on his fellow Orangemen saying some were seeking changes to allow attendance at weddings and funerals in Catholic churches.’

    Here we have naked bigotry disguised as ‘high religious principle ‘on the part of Dickinson. Imagine the ghastly horrors that might ensue if Orangemen as individuals attended RC weddings or funerals ? Not only would the world come to an end and that erring Orangeman be consigned to hell for all eternity but he would first have to be expelled from his lodge !

    Could it be possible that if RC’s saw ‘orangemen ‘ as individuals attending their functions of celebration or funereal that they might look with less antagonism at OO public functions and parades? It could be ‘tough’ to condemn ‘Sammy Wilson’ as an Orange ‘bigot’ if the same Sammy attended your dad’s funeral or your sister’s wedding because he was a friend of the family or a neighbour ?

    ‘He also condemned Orange leaders for meeting Archbishop Sean Brady’

    Of course he would . Once you start talking to the other side and treating them with ordinary human respect then you never know where that might lead? . You might even discover they are actually human beings even if they don’t share your religious or political beliefs ?

    Dickinson to be blunt is a dick . For a so called man of the cloth his utterances are not just ‘unchristian’ but make absolutely no sense in today’s Northern Ireland. They only make ‘reconciliation’ between the two political and religious traditions more difficult . But then that’s the currency that the likes of Rev Dickinson deal in . Like their counterparts in the medieval RC Church – the Rev Dickinson and his ilk in the early 21st century, cannot face the reality of the findings of modern scientific research i.e that man was not uniquely created by a ‘creator’ a few hundred years before the flood and that the human species is just the last surviving branch of a ‘hominoid ‘ family the rest of branches became extinct during the past 2 million years .

    These religious fundies will grab at any straw they can to maintain their ‘voice’ over their communities . I suppose you can excuse them on the basis of it being an attempt to ‘survive’ in a rapidly changing environment ? Most biological mutations are however destined for the extinction path . The Rev Dickosaurus and his ilk are on a one way trip to the Jurassic where they belong along with the ayatolllahs , mad mullahs , and the rest of the ‘God told me ‘ nutters !

  • Forest

    If the order wants to modernise it simply has to leave the hardliners behind.Though thats easier said than done.

    As far as I know anyone with convictions or known paramilitaries can still join the order.Anyone else remember convicted killer Billy McCaughey marching with a lodge in Ballymena?

    If the order is genuine about its Christian convictions and religious ethos then all traces of paramilitary bands and their emblems must be removed.Or any known bands in band parades exhibiting paramilitary links shouldnt be hired by the order to appear at their links.Background checks on all members should be carried out and anyone convicted of any offence or in the future convicted their membership should be revoked.Maybe keeping in line with the religious theme any possible new recruit should be vetted by their local minister/reverend who states their appearances/non appearances at church on a Sunday which then according to their attendance gets accepted into the order.Surely that wouldnt be objectable as members claim the order is a religious organisation?

    Ruling out any talks with Sinn Fein the order has shown itself not to be as genuine as it had hoped.They have requested that Sinn Fein apologise for membering their members.That would be helpful although the order appears to be vague on their members or bandsman breaking the law or being members of paramilitary groups.Would it be possible to hear an apology regarding this?

    If full dialogue and comprimise was reached the order could still in the future march in Dunloy and the Garvaghy Road.Pre 1996 the order never had any major issues from residents in Dunloy.The subsequent Harryville protest decredited the order significantly.

    I also recall on the 13th the independent order speech by Cyril Glass didnt have the usual anti-catholic venow and actually blamed the trouble in Rasharkin on a disruptive minority element in the village.

  • Driftwood

    Excellent, Greenflag.

    Unfortunately too many of NI politicians are ‘faith orientated’ and act accordingly. That’s why I prefer direct rule, with the exception of Tony Blair and his absurd ‘faith foundation’ neatly put to the sword here:

  • Kloot

    Bonkers, they’re not supposed to go into Catholic churches ever? That’s a bit full on

  • Drumlins Rock

    The Orange Order demands extremely high standards of its members, as well as some rather OTT rules and if they were all fully enforced there would be no members left, which makes a joke of the rules to be honest, for example alot of Orangemen I know have attended Catholic funerals and weddings, which leads to the problem if you bring charges against anyone for breaching the rules its too easy for counter charges to be brought against you. Also the rules are enforced or more often not enforced at a local level, so different areas focus on different rules.
    I think the rules need seriously looked at and a distinction between guidance and proper rules that can be enforced, preferably across the whole country by an idependant body, ie. a criminal conviction should lead to suspension/expulsion as shuold membership of a paramilitary group,
    So who would like to go with me to Belfast or where ever and tell the local UDA commander he isnt welcome. I am as offended as much as anyone else by their presence in parades, some would say by drawing them into the Order you give them a legitimate way to express thier Loyalism, maybe that will prove to be the case, but they cant have a foot in both camps.

  • fair_deal

    “the order is struggling with, and probably has struggled with for much longer than the lasat contentious 10/15 years, is modernity itself”

    I would remind you that Kennaway effectively proposes the OO be put under theocratic rule hardly a model of modernity.

  • Greenflag


    ‘Unfortunately too many of NI politicians are ‘faith orientated’ and act accordingly.’

    Because it pays electorally to do so . In an NI context it goes with the territory and cannot be otherwise . Remove or change the territory and the rug is cut out from beneath these politicians . The religious and political ‘elites’ on both sides perfectly understand that holding on to market ‘brand’ via religion and tribal vote is the only way to protect the ‘revenue’ stream for the hierarchies on both sides .

  • Lee

    ‘The Orange Order demands extremely high standards of its members’

    As can been seen at the funeral of UVF leader John Bingham

  • Neil

    Orangemen walking past Ardoyne shops should offend no one. The parade does not pass through an exclusively nationalist area and Ardoyne residents can shelter behind the shops.

    Shelter from what, the abuse, the piss heads, the public urination? Why should we have to? Why can parades not occur where the bandsmen remain sober? During this marching season just past, I was told to fuck off for asking a bands man to stop pissing in the area outside my restaurant. Piss and the preparation of food is not a good combination. Thankfully I was able to get a cop to intervene, as when I tried to shift the first one on he was joined by several mates, also having a piss. I note the cop didn’t feel duty bound to do anything until I asked him to, and didn’t appear too bothered about the laws being broken at the time.

    Protestants opposite have in the past been attacked by hordes of nationalist youths emerging from Ardoyne.

    And Nationalists have been attacked by Loyalists and Protestants in that area. I myself received a sectarian kicking for being a Catholic visiting a friend in Glenbryn (I believe it was called or similair).

    They feel intimidated and fear that, under cover of parade disputes, attempts are being made to drive them out.

    Nope, not really under cover of parades, they have been levelling violence at each other for years, what do you expect a spontaneous love in? Newsflash, Loyalists/Unionists and Nationalists/Republicans fell out there. A while back. We’ve been trying to drive each other out for thirty fuckin years.

    The riotous youths and their godfathers don’t want accommodation. A persecuting mindset, reminiscent of Nazi attitudes towards Jews, informs them.

    And the OO is world renowned for their love of accomodation and seeking it. Look how they kept trying to meet the Nationalist residents groups who took issue with people pissing on their property for example. The OO refuse to meet everyone, won’t even speak to catholics, through whose areas they expect to march then accuse Nationalists of not wanting accomodation? You think Unionists would be seeking accomodation now if they had been able to bully society enough to get their way, which they tried to do?

    the OO had it all their own way for a long time, and when eventually it was decided that they wouldn’t arbitrarily march through Nationalist areas, that they would sometimes be prevented from doing so for reasons of public order or contentiousness, they wrecked the country (Garvaghy part 1) and they got their way. No need for accomodation then. They tried to do the same thing again but this time the brits were in and the cops knew they had to be prepared. They didn’t get their way and wrecked the country (Garvaghy part 2) and still no accomodation. Now they want accomodation from the groups who they refused to work with in the past, and why? Because they can’t just force their way through any more.

    They love law and order those orangemen but not at Garvaghy or Whiterock. They love accomodation but not when they get their way, they never would have considered reaching an accomodation with Nationalists if they still called all the shots, yet it’s Nationalism that is to blame.

  • fair_deal
  • Neil

    Ok FD I should have been more specific and said that they wouldn’t meet anyone while they got their way, but the points that I made did convey the message that their new found desire to work with different groups to reach accomodations has only come about since they didn’t automatically get to march wherever they pleased.

    Your links support that. In your 2005 link, (a while after the PC started preventing contentious parades) the deal is described as historic. Why? Because up until the PC stepped in Orangmen needed no accomodation, and refused to deal with any Nationalist. Now they have to if they want to march, and all of a sudden the OO is looking for accomodations.

  • fair_deal


    You are switching horses here. You were presenting something as a present refusal now you are representing it as a more of a past issue that the OO was compelled to change over.

    “In your 2005 link, (a while after the PC started preventing contentious parades) the deal is described as historic.”

    Bans on parades etc pre-dated the PC (there was a chunk of them in the early seventies and then another chunk around the time of the Anglo-irish Agreement and another chunk at the start of the peace process before the PC was established) and in the particular instance of the Londonderry deal it was the PC trying to get a bit of credit for something that hadn’t included them. Neither was it historic as it was the Apprentice Boy model.

    You also omit that when the plea for ‘dialogue’ has in some cases found to be an empty one when tested eg Ormeau Road saying No despite repeated and sustained ‘dialogue’ and the Garvaghy Road residents only taking up this year an offer of dialogue that has been on the table for a couple of years now.

    I would also point out that SF’s call for dialogue is a shift. Previously it was talk to the residents now that this is happening in a number of places through various models SF is now moving the goalposts for dialogue with it.

  • alan56

    Is walking past shops at top of Crumlin road, passing through a nationalist area?

  • fin

    fair_deal, its hardly moving the goalposts, Sinn Fein are calling for dialogue with them as well as with resident groups, is it unfair to do so, hardly, a member of SF is Co/Joint/Deputy first minister of a government assembly which has financially rewarded the order, SF is also the 2nd largest party in NI, and represents people in the areas that the OO marches.

    Didn’t the Garvaghy Road residents request dialogue several years ago, surely its a case of the OO finally taking up that offer?

  • Mick Fealty

    Passing by Alan. It’s the main arterial route out of the city, and is Catholic one side and Protestant on the other. There is no doubt that it is a flash point, but as Garland notes, the actual interface is almost entirely composed of commercial properties on a route that otherwise runs via majority Protestant areas.

  • Greenflag

    Neil ,

    ‘They love law and order ‘
    I’d qualify that remark .

    They love their law and their order and like the school yard bully will always ‘bully’ unless faced up to and confronted . I see the dialogue of the ‘deaf ‘ continues apace 😉

  • Cushy Glenn

    “If the order is genuine about its Christian convictions and religious ethos then all traces of paramilitary bands and their emblems must be removed.Or any known bands in band parades exhibiting paramilitary links shouldnt be hired by the order to appear at their links.Background checks on all members should be carried out and anyone convicted of any offence or in the future convicted their membership should be revoked.Maybe keeping in line with the religious theme any possible new recruit should be vetted by their local minister/reverend who states their appearances/non appearances at church on a Sunday which then according to their attendance gets accepted into the order.Surely that wouldnt be objectable as members claim the order is a religious organisation?”

    OK let’s run with this, as on the face of it the suggestion is reasonable.
    If anyone who was ever convicted of paramilitary membership should not be a member of the Orange order then clearly we apply the same standards- to misquote trimble those with a past cannot have a future. Which means the orange is correct to say that those former paramilitaries now chairing residents’ groups are beyond the pale.
    And if someone is widely assumed to be a paramilitary but never convicted, the orange must somehow conduct an investigation that follows due process and obtain the evidence to expel them- but from whom exactly?

    As for getting the friendly neighbourhood clergyman’s certificate- what if said cleric is hostile to the orange, and won’t disclose the details? Or feels inclined to dissuade the candidate from joining? Candidates have to declare membership of a congregation, and that they are regular ( note that word- not frequent, or habitual but regular- once a month or every communion service is “regular” )attenders. This has to be confirmed by his sponsors.

    The real issue here is how to deal with the relatively small number of members believed to have or have had a paramilitary connection. Many thousands of young men joined paramilitaries on both sides in the past 40 years- bizarrely the UDA was even deemed legal for much of its existence. Only the order is expected to shun them. Some are even deemed fit to be in government over us, and they are the loudest in calling for wiping of records.

    All of a sudden it’s not so simple

  • Brian MacAodh

    “bizarrely the UDA was even deemed legal for much of its existence”

    The UDA was a legal murder gang because it happened to be Protestant and pro-state. Nothing bizarre about it.

  • fin

    Its quite frankly madness that a commeneration for 2 battles from hundreds od years ago are allowed to totally swamp an entire region, WW1, WW2, or rememberance Sunday in the rest of the UK or the Easter Rising in the South do not have a fraction of the impact of the 12th. I don’t think it is a case of who is a member of the OO or not thats an issue its if 1.75 million lives should be put on hold for a day along with the entire buildup and winding down of the marching season. I find it difficult that there are people out there who think that this is a normal way for things to happen.

  • Mick Fealty


    You asked that question earlier and I resisted offering a trite answer. That being that we are supposed to live in a ‘free country’.

    I know that’s in dispute in some quarters but what I mean by it is that in general we tolerate a lot of ‘unnecessary’ disruption to our ordinary lives: Dundrod and the NW 200 immediately come to mind.

    Those things are dangerous as well a huge disruption. But they are ‘tolerated’ by people like me, and possibly you, who have no time or interest in them because they are part of a general melee of public life in Northern Ireland.

    Free association was at times severely curtailed during the Troubles. Whatever your thoughts about it, it’s surely not a good way to go about building an inclusive peace to try banning them now?

  • Carnlough

    Mick-fair point you just made though it begs the question is there really a need for so many loyal order/band parades?

  • oldruss

    Here’s an observation or two from an American. (As long as this web site continues to allow Americans to comment, I’ll continue to do so.)

    Rev Stephen Dickinson is quoted above, and I’ll admit that I am not familiar with him. However, the content of his message is most similar to another clergyman with whom I am familiar, the Rev. Ian Paisley of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ireland.

    Sectarian bigotry seems to play a large role in both Dickinson’s and Paisley’s messages. See,

    I recall a few years ago, when the Rev. Paisley refused to attend the funeral Mass for Michael ‘Mickey Bo’ McIlveen in Ballymena. Given the enormous news coverage, and the deeply tragic nature of Mickey Bo’s murder, Rev. Paisley’s refusal to enter a Roman Catholic church seems regrettably bigoted.

    What does this have to do with the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland?

    If the Orange Orders were simply a religious fraternal order, which did good works, okay. Being a Protestant organization to the exclusion of Roman Catholics is not unlike the Knights of Columbus, which is, I believe, restricted to practicing Catholics. So far, so good.

    But, the Orange Order is much more than a simple, religious, fraternal organization that does charity work.

    It was and still is, a singularly potent Unionist political force. While the formal bands, which once connected the Ulster Unionist Party (before the rise of the DUP under Paisley) to the Orange Order, no longer exist, Unionism is still very much within the web of the Orange Order. Of the 55 Unionist Members of the Assembly (MLA’s), 37 are also members of the Orange Order. Given the requirements for cross-community agreement, since the Unionist vote is all but controlled by the Orange Order, whatever happens at Stormont is still controlled by the Orange Order.

    Keep in mind too, that while members of the DUP may not be members of the Orange Order, nonetheless, the sectarian bigotry which is a hallmark of the Order is mirrored in the sectarian bigotry of DUP founder and former First Minister, Rev. Ian Paisley, and in all probability, is still near and dear to the hearts of many, if not most, DUP (and TUV) leaders today.

  • latcheeco

    A drop too much of the orange koolaid at orangefest? The NW 200 is hardly the marching season. Yamahas rarely get bloodpressure up as high as Lambegs. AFAIK the NW 200 is not primarily designed so the Hondas can slowly ride past the Kawasaskis just to piss them off about the race the won way back when. And pedestrians getting knocked down accidently is not the same as citizens getting kicked to death.

  • Mick Fealty

    I was addressing a very particular point Latch raised by fin on why civil disruption should be tolerated. I was merely pointing out we do it for others; so the disruption itself is not a reason for closing it down (if such a thing were even faintly likely under the current circumstances).

    That it’s a point the Orange make themselves, it does not necessarily mean I’ve imbibed too much of their koolaid (though I’m happy to admit to there’s a danger of that). For me it relates back to Michael Longley’s oft repeated point here about relearning the rules of civilisation.

    On your last, the result is the same, and the responsibility in each case generally lies with the organisers. Except we also know the the recent riot kicked off when the Orange were an hour away.

    We reported the intimidating, anti social behaviour (and the strange ambivalence of the police) across much of the route in south Belfast, but also the hair trigger reflex of antis in Ardoyne (not to mention the ongoing destruction of Orange Halls).

    So the very least we know is that there are two sides to this intolerance game.

  • Fhick Meilty

    “[i]one of the things that the order is struggling with, and probably has struggled with for much longer than the lasat contentious 10/15 years, is modernity itself.”[/i]


    do you give any credence to tradition?

  • latcheeco

    Fair enough Mick,
    But I thought the comparison was a poor one and one which is more to do with Unionists convincing themselves that it’s all (or could be) harmless fun for all the family. You know the line: “Wouldn’t this be a great wee pravince if only….”.

    You’re well aware that that’s not the marching season which nationalists know. At the risk of sounding melodramatic to unionists, to nationalists, it’s a dangerous nightmare (if less so nowadays perhaps).

    In the best of all worlds (i.e. a united Ireland see Rossknowlagh :)) the Orange marches would be tolerated by those who are antipathetic, indifferent, or could just care less, as merely an annual non-threatening inconvenience. The problem for Orangemen is the baggage (historical) and baggage train (urinical)is impossible to divorce from in order to get to that place.

    To nationalists the Orange order through its marches represents threat. Whether or not that seems justified today or unfair to Orangemen is beside the point. It’s reality.

    I suspect Mr. Longley, as the unionist’s Heaney, wants nationalists to be civilized according to his mores and rules. Reminding the untermenschen (to reverse Garland’s Godwin) to their faces (if they don’t want to hide behind shops that is)for two months a year how superior you are, does not seem very civilised to me, or the way towards a shared future, and I’m not a fifteen year old kid and living in Brompton Park.

    If your last point in defence of the Orange is to remember (the classic canard) that both sides are as bad as the other over the Twelfth then so what? The problem is still the Twelfth.

    And if I was a unionist and I truly wanted nationalists to embrace a pluralist Norn Irn long term, the first thing I would do, in return for them giving up a UI, is ditch the Orange Order. To me that would be really civilizing.

  • Driftwood

    And if I was a unionist and I truly wanted nationalists to embrace a pluralist Norn Irn long term, the first thing I would do, in return for them giving up a UI, is ditch the Orange Order.

    The vast majority have. Unfortunately the Unionist parties have not caught up yet, but the Tories should help with the UUP (which has a secular manifesto). For the DUP/TUV it may be a bridge too far.

  • Dewi

    There’s a structural “groundhog day” annual repetition of build up, march, wind down that’s always dangerous and is a systematic barrier to progress. Mick’s point about living in a “free country” is relevant but things are illegal like cocaine for instance.
    I just wish that the Order itself would come up with more imaginative and less hostile ways of celebrating the twelve (and generally reducing the number of parades) – I’ve asked before but does any nationalist on here resent that Scarva Pageant? Sounds a great laugh.

  • Chris Donnelly


    Of course civil disruption should be tolerated but, as other ‘civilised’ societies have found out when confronted by similar marching confrontations (white supremacists in African-American communities in the US) this issue is a tricky one.

    Add into the mix the fact that we have emerged from a decades-old conflict and the fact that there is no reciprocal demand placed upon the unionist community to act in a similarly ‘civilised’ manner with regard to tolerating expressions of the nationalist/ republican culture in their midst, and it becomes evident that the comparisons with a motorcycling event are, at best, irrelevant.

    btw What’s this ‘recivilising’ business? If mutual tolerance of both traditions is the benchmark, then we are only now as a society moving in that direction- as the Divis Riots illustrated, pre-1969 society in the north was ‘civilised’ only in regard to recognising the legitimacy of one identity in the state.

  • Mick Fealty

    Here’s the Longley quote:

    “It’s how we interact with one another, civilization. On the one hand, I’m interested in how we avoid tearing one another to pieces. Peace is not that, peace is the absence of that, peace is the absence of war: the opposite of war is custom, customs, and civilization. Civilization is custom and manners and ceremony, the things that Yeats says in “A Prayer for My Daughter.” We have a vocabulary of how to deal with one another and how to behave, a vocabulary of behavior, as well as things to say to one another . . . and out of that come laws and agreed ways of doing things . . .”

    The imperative to build a common civilisation is not a one way street. Nor can it wait until the other side has moved first. (Right, I’m knacked, so for a short cut, check out the Long Peace chapter on games theory on the tit for tit strategy…)

  • Drumlins Rock

    Can i just repeat what I have said im many other posts over the past few weeks
    I do NOT set out to annoy, offend, antagonise, or triumph over anyone when i parade, nor does anyone I know who parades along with me, and cannot see anything in our parade that would offend, unless a union flag is too much for you to look at, and many of the parades i take part in are in catholic majority towns, with many of the resisdents watching.
    I know of no paramilitary members in the hundreds of orangemen I know, and those that are convicted as such should be expelled ( but then can reinstated after 7 yr if they have have reformed )
    Can we pretend belfast dosnt exist for a while at least?

  • Frank

    “Can we pretend belfast dosnt exist for a while at least? ”

    So let’s forget about the paramilitary banners and loyalist paramilitary bands in Belfast. Let’s forget about the lodges in Belfast like The Old Boyne Island Heroes who commemorate the Shankill butchers and other UVF leaders (all of whom were members of loyalist paramilitary organisations and members of the Orange Order when they were killing Catholics)

    Should we forget that the numerous parades past Ardoyne (and other contentious areas) include banners commemorating loyalist paramilitary killers.

    If you think it only happens in Belfast you are very naive or taking the piss.

    Loyalist paramilitary killers are remembered in many towns across the north during the Orange Order marching season.

  • Dewi

    Drumlins Rock – violence and tension increase before and during the marching period. That’s a bad thing – how van we reduce it?

  • Harry Flashman

    I remember it well; the gathering dread every summer as the big event approached. The celebration of a famous victory in the past over the natives by the incomers, how they would parade with their noisy bands just to remind the locals who “owned” the place now.

    The loud throbbing music, the drunken hangers on, the criminality, the latent threat in the warm summer air as the streets were you lived were taken over by throngs of outsiders come to remind you who was boss. Despite the widespread public order offences, despite or perhaps because of the threat of riots which could erupt at a moment’s notice the police seemed to turn a blind eye, their political masters telling them to go easy.

    There was only one option, lock up your home and head off to the countryside or the coast or even get out of the country altogether for the duration of the “celebration”.

    But that’s the past now, thank God, I moved out of Notting Hill ten years ago.

    Now, what is it we’re discussing? Oh right, public demonstrations and the fact that ordinary members of the public sometimes just have to put up with them, is that it?

  • Dewi

    Harry – morning – there is an issue of scale though isn’t there. I’ll look it up but there’s thousands of these parades in the marching season.

  • Dewi

    SNI say 2,270 Unionist parades in 2007.

  • Billy

    The OO have consistently whinged on for decades about their “God Given” right to march the “Queens’s Highway”. As has been pointed out many times, no such omnipotent right exists. All marches/parades in the UK are subject to local govt/police constraints if they are likely to cause unrest.

    The trouble with the OO is it’s complete refusal to wake up to reality. It’s so-called leadership seems to ignore the fact that they have long since lost the PR battle (in fact Drumcree 1 did that for them). People are aware that they are an ananchronism who claim to be a religious organisation yet welcome members of “loyalist” terrorists into their organisation and take no action against bands/lodges who consistently display banners etc commemorating “loyalist” terrorists.

    It is so easy to negate their arguments (even if they had decent spokesmen but they don’t – they’re useless).

    I would like to see a day when OO parades can pass off peacefully – I have no time for the vermin that started trouble in Ardoyne.

    However, until the OO is prepared to negotiate with no preconditions (accepting that in some cases) they may have to alter their route permanently, I can’t see much progress.

    They also need to take responsibility for disciplining lodges/bands that commemorate “loyalist” terrorists. Frankly, no reasonable people give a shit about their “it’s a local matter” excuse – that’s their problem.

    If the OO leadership were to agree a series of sanctions (starting with a minimum 1 year ban) to be applied to any march where such banners etc were flown, that would be a start. Then if they apply those sanctions, the offending lodges would get the message and people outside the order might start to take them seriously.

    At the moment, they take no action, such banners etc are seen at many Orange parades and the OO QUITE RIGHTLY is viewed as being at best ambiguous on “loyalist” terrorism.

    The OO also needs to take responsibility for the vermin that follow their parades urinating in public and vandalising.

    Despite the nonsense about Orangefest – the OO is stilled widely viewed as a bigotted anachronism that isn’t too bothered by “loyalist” terrorism.

    Any “progress” that the OO has made on the PR front in recent years is miniscule in comparison to the damage it suffered during the Drumcree years.

    Frankly, the OO has done little if anything to tackle the issues that drag it down – most notably it’s complete failure to do anything about the clear links with “loyalist” terrorists.

    It’s little wonder that it’s membership is dropping rapidly and aging.

    Until the so-called “leadership” wise-up, realise that the days of them marching where they liked when they liked are gone for good, and have the guts to act against those who drag their organisation down, both their membership and public image (tarnished as it is) will continue to wither away.

  • fair_deal


    “its hardly moving the goalposts, Sinn Fein are calling for dialogue with them as well as with resident groups”

    Previously it was talk to the residents now it is talk to residents and us that is a shift.

    “Didn’t the Garvaghy Road residents request dialogue several years ago, surely its a case of the OO finally taking up that offer?”

    Garvaghy asked first yes but when it was offered they then refused it on the basis they had what they wanted.

  • fair_deal

    “the Unionist vote is all but controlled by the Orange Order, whatever happens at Stormont is still controlled by the Orange Order.”

    ROFLMAO that really gave me a good start to the day.

  • Cushy Glenn

    “SNI say 2,270 Unionist parades in 2007.

    Posted by Dewi on Jul 23, 2009 @ 03:13 AM”

    Ah statistics. don’t you just love ’em
    Years ago my lodge used to walk from the country into the village at about 7.30 a.m. past startled cows; met up with the other lodges and had a mini parade round the town at about 9 00 a.m.; then got on the bus for the main parade in Bigsville. We had our tea and sandwiches at the field and went home by the same procedure, arriving at about 6.30 for tea and a dance at the hall.

    We still do ( except for the dance) only now the parades commission tell us we’ve held six parades!!

    By that logic Harry’s excellent point presumably means the Notting Hill carnival would amount to dozens of wee parades as they floats etc form up to join in the main parade.

    Harry you are consistently an adornment to slugger with your intellect and self deprecating humour so refreshing it makes one doubt that you ever were a Derry wan hi

  • Billy


    “Garvaghy asked first yes but when it was offered they then refused it on the basis they had what they wanted”

    Simply not true.

    Initially the OO in their arrogance simply stated that they wouldn’t negotiate with residents as they were a Sinn Fein/IRA front. This would have been laughable if it wasn’t so serious. This hypocrisy from an organization that had clear links to “loyalist” terrorist groups and is clearly ambigiuous on “loyalist” terrorism.

    It took a while but eventually even the moronic OO “leadership” realised that they were totally f**ked on the PR front and being exposed as hypocrites so made a pretence of offering talks. In reality, while the residents wanted no preconditions where all outcomes were possible, the OO position was that all sides must accept up front that the parade would go down Garvaghy road.

    I don’t know about you but I’ve been involved a few professional and personal negotiations in my life. If someone has a predetermined outcome before they ever sit down, I wouldn’t bother and not surprisingly neither did the residents.

    That is NOT negotiation and, yet again, the idiotic OO seemed surprised that the vast majority of people (including many Unionists) saw this as a stupid attempt to insult people’s intelligence. Surprise, surprise – the already shit public impression of the OO fell even further.

    I’m not an admirer of the Garvaghy Road resident’s leader. However, let’s be frank. The OO have taken over 10 years to reach this point and they are only doing it because public opinion and their own ineptitude have forced them to do so. There is still an arrogant – “we should be able to march where we like” attitude within many of the OO.

    If the OO are serious about making progress, then what’s the hassle about meeting with Sinn Fein? – after all they are the largest Nationalist party,

    This shite about not meeting Adams until he apologises for the murder of OO members is pathetic.

    Are the OO leadership going to apologise for all their members (past and present) who have been involved in “loyalist” terrorism? Are they actually going to do anything about the bands/lodges who continually commemorate “loyalist terrorists”?

    I’m no Sinn Fein supporter but, even as a moderate Catholic, it’s just as hard for Sinn Fein to meet with the OO leadership than vice versa.

    Yet again, the OO “leadership” just don’t get it -they are not fooling anyone. They can refuse to meet Sinn Fein on the pathetic basis they put forward. That’s fine but, as ever, the public can see this for the hypocritical shite that it is. If there’s any lack of progress, the majority of blame sits with the OO and their pathetic “leadership”.

    Even the likely next Conservative govt aren’t stupid enough to go back to the pre Drumcree days.

    As I said in an earlier post, I would like to see a situation where OO parades can go ahead with no problems – I have no time for the scum that rioted in Ardoyne.

    However, until the OO either change their “leadership” or it changes it’s attitude, the OO will continue to lose big time in the PR world and it’s membership will continue to decline.

    If the OO are genuinely seen to negotiate with no pre-conditions and to take action to deal with their links with “loyalist” terrorism, then this might put pressure on Republicans to reach a compromise.

    However, if the OO continue with their transparent ploy of negotiations with a pre-determined outcome and refusing to meet Sinn Fein while maintaining their own ambiguity on “loyalist” terrorism, they will continue to be seen by the vast majority of the public as a hypocritical, bigotted organisation.

    Einstein defined insanity as continually repeating the same actions but expecting a different outcome.

    It seems to me that the OO fit neatly in that category.

    They don’t seem to realise that they have been exposed and have long since lost the PR war.

    If they continue to pursue the same failing tactics, they’ll continue to get the same lack of results and their membership will continue to decline.

    The ball is in their court.

  • kensei


    That it’s a point the Orange make themselves, it does not necessarily mean I’ve imbibed too much of their koolaid (though I’m happy to admit to there’s a danger of that). For me it relates back to Michael Longley’s oft repeated point here about relearning the rules of civilisation.

    That line is repeated on here so much it is both cliched, and loses all meaning. There is plenty of scope for things that simply cannot be tolerated, even within “civilised” society.

    I don’t agree with the use of the OO as a general kick bag. The Tricolour has an equal third orange, afetr all. But there are specific beefs I have with it. For example: the inherent anti-Catholcism, which has little place in the modern world; the OO has more issues with Islam and Buddhism and Atheism than it has with Catholicism. It should be enough for them and lose nothing to simply state what they are for. Second, there are a number of unresolved links with loyalist paramilitarism. Third, the entire twelfth and the lead up to it is a fairly terrifying experience for a youngish Catholic man. Not all of that can be laid directly at the door of the OO and some things like the bonfires it is at a distance of plausible deniability. but it is a key leading organisation in all of this, and has a responsibility to lead that isn’t being fulfilled. Fourth, it has a history of supremicism that jaundices Catholic opinion of all of its current actions that it refuses to recognise, much less deal with. And fifth, for an organisation that states it is primarily religious, it involves itself in an awful lot of politics. Could a fundamentalist Protestant republican be in the OO. And if not, should the organisation of asking him why. I could probably go on, but thos eare major beefs.

    As a republican, I would genuninely like to see a situation where I could go to the parades if I wnated (having doen St Patrick’s Day in New York though, these quasi-militaristic things aren’t my bag, though) and support that organisation doing what it is doing. It does, by all accounts, do a lot of decent and charitable work in Protestant communties.

    But those things add up. And they add up to the point where the OO is a negative influence, so the natural stance is a degree of hostility. They add up to a point where the natural inclination is to support restricting (note – not banning, or removing) their right to Assembly through various areas that are problematic.

    Some of those things touch at the core of that organisation, but I’d suggest not too deeply and in some cases no more than asking hme to live to their own standards. I also have no doubt thatit would make little difference to dissidents, but I think it would to many normal Catholics and Nationalists. This is very far from just being a problem with Nationalism not being “civilised” enough.

  • otto

    “As a republican, I would genuinely like to see a situation where I could go to the parades if I wanted (having done St Patrick’s Day in New York though”

    It’s probably no surprise that St Patrick’s Day is organised by the OO’s American cousins in the gay-banning, catholic men only admitting, AOH.

    The model for both should be something more inclusive like the 4th July parades and the trick there seems to be more civic involvement and good policing.

  • fair_deal


    “Simply not true.”

    Sorry but it is true.

    Here are the documents which prove it

    From the Parades Commission determination on the Drumcree parade in 2008.

    “In its letter, the District addressed several longstanding issues raised by the GRRC and indicated what role it believes it can play in resolving these issues. In the Commission’s view the willingness of Portadown LOL No1 to engage in direct discussions represents a significant advance in the position of the District. It has removed a long standing obstacle to the initiation of dialogue.”

    Yet one year later no talks had been started. here is what was contained in this year’s PC determination.

    “The Commission has heard that the GRRC does not believe that the circumstances for dialogue with the District have been met particularly in regard to the scope of any discussions on the route.”

    “In previous determinations the Commission has acknowledged the District’s stated willingness to become involved in open, face-to-face dialogue without preconditions or predetermined outcomes.”

  • fair_deal

    Here is the press coverage of the original OO offer in 2007

  • fair_deal

    Here is PC criticism of the GRRC’s back in Nov 2007 on the failure to address the offer of dialogue

    “10. To date the Commission has not received a response from the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition. This is of some concern to the Commission in view of the GRRC’s long-held position that it would wish to see direct, face-to-face dialogue as the only way of reaching an agreed outcome to the Drumcree issue. While the Commission subscribes to the view that dialogue is the only acceptable way to resolve the situation the Commission is disappointed that it has not yet been possible to begin such a process at this time.” Portadown Sun 11 Nov 07.doc

    Plus in Portadown district’s case they have also met SF so that refusal can’t be used as a basis either, Portadown district met with them over a year ago.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Thanks for your post 24. was starting to think the thread was descending into the usual whataboutry, whilst i mite not agree with it all it is good it see a coherent criticism for once, I think there has been some progress on the areas you hilighted, but more is needed i agree.
    With regards to the Anti-Catholicism, the rules and ritual were amended just a few years ago to take in all others outside “the Reformed Faith” and even “non practising protestants” in some cases, as can be seen in a recent set of the qualifications. To be honest I would agree with you and say it should have been changed a positive Pro Reformed-Faith Statement instead of the cumbersome new version, if you look up the USA and Canadian Grand-lodge sites that is the way they have it.
    As for the Religious/Political mix, it has always been there and always will, I am glad the party political link has gone, which should mean it becomes small p, political, I would say the order has 4 aspects Religious, political, cultural and community, in different areas different aspects dominate, getting the right balance is important.
    I’m not sure about a “protestant republican Orangeman” I know most of the members in the Republic are loyal to their state, and the members in the USA are probably mainly Republican voting! W.F. Marshall the poet and Leading Orangeman was a big admirer of the United Irishmen I believe.
    As for the paramilitaries, If individuals have moved on from involvement and are willing to accept the standards then they should be encouraged to be involved, but if they are still actively involved in illegal and criminal activity or have committed serious crimes in the past they should not be welcome. It would take a brave man to stand up to them, I guess if I was in a senior position would I put my neck on the line, I not sure, hopefully someone will soon though I’m sick of being associated even at arms length with people like that.

  • Brian MacAodh

    There are probably about 100 people involved in lodges in the US.

  • kensei

    Drumlins rock

    As far as know this:

    An Orangeman…..
    …..should strenuously oppose the fatal errors and doctrines of the Church of Rome, and scrupulously avoid countenancing (by his presence or otherwise) any act of ceremony of Popish worship;

    He should by all lawful means, resist the ascendancy of that Church, its encroachments, and the extension of its power

    is still in there. In a society where the line between anti-Catholicism and anti-Catholic is so thin to be meaningless I don’t see the purpose of it and it creates a lot of difficulties for Catholics. Get over us, basically.

    Given the focus on personal conscience in most of the Protestant religions, formal bans on attending Catholic worship seem highly out of place.

    Similarly while I’ve never been able to get on with lots of aspect of Presbyterianism, I have always liked their politics – being of course, the original republicans (and not simply in Ireland). The meddling in politics seems to simply get in the way of its religious message. If hypotheticaly I had an experience whereby I converted, I’d still be disbarred on the grounds that I would not be bending the knee to any earthly power. For an organisation that claims to be so focused on religion, why is it sticking Elizabth Windsor as an obstacle to that?

    And I think you are still niave to the extent to which loyalism has always been tolerated and minimum nudge nudge wink wink accepted within the OO. Plenty of examples from people if you search the site. Even owning up to it without having much of a clue to fix it would be a big step. I appreciate the OO is perhaps less top down that, say the GAA, but I would be surprised if there wasn’t a lot of leverage people could bring on bands and lodges with paramilitary connections or flags. And I have no problem with people who have moved on.

  • Forest

    Yes fair enough.UVF flags which carry reference to the 36th ulster division do have significant historical relevance.however as i witnessed on the tv coverage of the 12th this year in belfast some bands openly carried uda/uff flags.this has no historical relevance what so ever and is merely advertising a sectarian killer gang.How could law abiding,religious orangemen stomach walking behind those bands?

  • Drumlins Rock

    Kensai, Ithink the new wording is roughly
    “…..should strenuously oppose the fatal errors and doctrines of the Church of Rome and other non-reformed faiths, and scrupulously avoid countenancing (by his presence or otherwise) any act of ceremony of Popish or other non-reformed worship;”
    Which dosnt exactly have the same poetic flow of the orginal 200 year old words, as i said i think it should be changed to ” ….uphold and promote the Reformed Christian faith, by practice and example, and refain from active participation in any act or ceremony that is not compatible with our faith or the Scriptures” or something roughly like that, but guess it will be a while before a change like that happens, as i have said before most Orangemen I know have been to funerals in Catholic Churches, it silly to have a bann that is so widely ignored now, but not entirely.
    Its rather ironic i think that the “First orangeman” so to speak was Dan Winters a quaker, and the historic Presbyterian relationship with the Crown in Scotland is complex to say the least, and the Orange alegiance is conditional on the Monarch being Protestant, I get the feeling “Defender OF Faith” would not go down well with members, mite not be enough for them to ditch the Monarchy yet, but it is not an unconditional loyalty and “the faith” comes first, for many anyways.
    I will admitt there is a problem, and have witnessed evidence of members “I didnt like the look of” when watching the occasional parade away from home, I dont know the extent or influence they have, maybe I should start asking questions, I shouldnt undermine my Grandmaster i guess, but I cant see a Belfastman tackling the problem, I think a country GM would have taken the issue on years ago, but despite the fancy titles etc. it is not a top down organisation, that stubborn presbyterian independance again.

  • oldruss


    Glad I was able to provide you with a bit of levity. For reference, your post above stated:

    [quoting a fragment of one sentence from my previous post]“the Unionist vote is all but controlled by the Orange Order, whatever happens at Stormont is still controlled by the Orange Order.”

    ROFLMAO that really gave me a good start to the day.

    Posted by fair_deal on Jul 23, 2009 @ 10:09 AM

    Perhaps, fair_deal, you could explain how it is that the OO isn’t in fact, running the show from the Unionist side? For much of the UUP’s history the OO was given preferential treatment and guaranteed a given number of seats on the UUP’s executive board, or whatever it was called, and even after the rise of the DUP, today, 37 of 55 Unionist MLA’s are still also members of the Orange Order? Don’t those numbers alone demonstrate a significant influence within Unionism?

    Does it not become a concern that 37 of 55 of those same Unionist MLA’s today are members of a fundamental, anti-Catholic, religious organization, which has historically enjoyed the dominate position in what was THE single unionist political party that ruled the six counties?

    The historic domination of Unionist politics is well stated by this excerpt from The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland’s web site:

    “The vast majority of Unionist M.Ps. during the 51 year period of the Stormont Parliament were members of the Orange Order. Of the 95 who never received cabinet rank until 1969, 87 (including one woman) were members of the Order. The remaining eight were women and three were elected for the first time in 1969. Only three members of the cabinet during this period were not Orangemen and three others who were left the Institution later. Every Stormont senator during the 1921-68 period was an Orangeman, except the one woman senator. And of the 56 members of the Westminster parliament in the same period, all but two (both women) were lodge members. Every Prime Minister of Northern Ireland during the period 1921-72 was an Orangeman. An estimated 35 of the 60 Unionist members returned to the Northern Ireland Assembly in June 1998 are Orange Order members. Most of them are in the Ulster Unionist Party with a significant number in the DUP. Of the present 101 member executive of the Ulster Unionist Party, an estimated 84 members are understood to have direct or indirect links to the Orange Order. On the present Ulster Unionist Council, there is a similar Orange membership percentage.”

    Recognizing that the above only references the Ulster Unionist Party, without mention of the DUP, it should be kept in mind that the Orange Order is well represented within the DUP as well.

    The DUP leader, the Rt. Hon. Peter Robinson MP put it this way in a recent welcoming speech for Orange Order members visiting Stormont:

    “The DUP is always happy to support the Loyal Orders and recognises the important role they play in Northern Ireland life. We recognise the importance of events such as the Twelfth of July and the tourism potential that flows from them. We are also mindful of the history of Unionism and the central and positive role the Orange Order played in bringing the state of Northern Ireland into being. The founding fathers of this country were Orangemen. The Institution they loved and cherished will always be able to count on the support and help of the DUP.

    “In government the DUP has been working hard to advance the agenda of the Loyal Orders. For too long the Loyal Orders were sidelined and ignored by funding bodies and by government, especially during the direct rule administration. The DUP has sought to end that situation.”

  • fair_deal


    1. You historical arguments to provide justification for something you claim occuring now is poor. This isn’t the 1921-1972 its 2009. Also there has been next to no historical evidence produced for active OO interference in the running of Stormont.
    2. You misrepresent relationship and participation as control.
    3. You are either ignorant or don’t understand how the OO is structured and run. It can’t really instruct anyone to do anything. I used to be one of the OO’s UUC delegates (so no I am not shocked/stunned/outraged that Unionist MLAs are also members) and they never determined my vote once nor had they any means of checking how I voted.
    4. You ignore key instances where Unionist parties acting against the OO’s wishes e.g. the UUP and the Belfast Agreement. You also ignore that the different parties take different positions on things – how are they both following some OO masterplan if the both advocate different things?
    5. You try to ignore key changes i.e. that the OO institutional link with the UU’s was abolished a few years ago, by your own figures that OO membership has declined or that we’ve had two Unonist first ministers neither of whom was a member of the OO at the time
    6. So they’ve promised to get the OO funding for cultural work? Hardly grassy knoll/second sniper material.

    In short it is an entertaining conspiracy theory which shows more about your own mindset than Unionist MLAs.

  • greenflag

    Dewi ,

    ‘SNI say 2,270 Unionist parades in 2007. ‘

    So over a 3 month period i.e 90 days that would be 25 parades a day ? LOL. Such religious faith, drum bashing and adherence to traditional mores is not seen or witnessed anywhere else on the planet certainly not for an entire season. The only one that comes close would be the Islamic Ramadan which of course is abstemious in a manner that would be very unlike the post parade vomit canal that is the lot of many 12th parades 🙁
    Given that most of the parades would be close to the 12th that must mean hundreds of parades some days with bands presumably attending more than a few .

    In years gone by these parades were ‘territory markers ‘ and an annual reminder to Irish nationalists /catholics of who was in charge and who ‘owned ‘ the country . Not unlike the Jim Crow ‘techniques ‘ used by Southern racists in the deep south of the USA . Put a bit of stick/fear etc about and the blacks /catholics will be too afraid to rise up for another year .

    As to how the OO can maintain their traditional marches without giving offence to Irish nationalists ?

    Difficult one .

    The OO will never be as ‘inclusive ‘ as St Patrick’s festivities -that’s for sure .The annual quasi religious call to arms disguised as ‘tradition’ will continue as long as the OO does which will be for at least another century or two .

  • Greenflag

    Addendum to above .

    get used to it i.e the OO

    ‘that stubborn presbyterian independance again.’

    Where does ‘independence ‘ end and bone headed self defeating stupidity begin ?

    Would this be the same kind of ‘independence ‘ that led the Presbyterian Mutual into a financial mess with it’s investors ;)?

  • oldruss


    I can only re-state what the numbers are today: 37 of 55 Unionist MLA’s (both UUP and DUP) are also members of the Orange Orders.

    That obviously does not concern you, but it does concern me. When a majority of Unionist MLA’s follow the creed of a fundamentally anti-Catholic, religious organization such as the Orange Orders, the influence of that organization cannot be anything but significant.

    The Rt. Hon. Peter Robinson MP, as I quoted above, summed it up: “In government the DUP has been working hard to advance the agenda of the Loyal Orders.”

    I think that speaks volumes.

  • Billy

    Fair Deal

    As I said, I am not an admirer of the leader of the GRRC. On the face of it, if Portadown OO have offered talks without pre-conditions, I don’t see why not.

    Also, fair play to them for meeting Sinn Fein (albeit with criticism from the OO “leadership”).

    I believe that the GRRC leader has left Sinn Fein and joined Eirigi so perhaps their influence is weakened.

    However, let’s keep it in perspective. It has taken Portadown OO over 10 years to reach this point and they didn’t do it out of altruism. They realised that they had lost the PR battle and that they would achieve nothing if they didn’t change tactics.

    Still, these are welcome moves from Portadown OO and should be commended by all.

    Unfortunately they, as you pointed out, were criticised by the OO “leadership” who really are pitiful.

    They really don’t seem to realise that that the OO have never recovered from the awful publicity of the initial Drumcree riots, meetings with Billy Wright and other “loyalist” terrorists and attacks across NI. The final straw was the tragic murder of the 3 Quinn children. I have no doubt that you and the majority of OO members were and are sickened by this. However, whether you like it or not, this was perceived around the world as having being caused by the tension of the OO protest at Drumcree and perception is reality.

    Of course, beating up BBC + foreign reporters for daring to report on OO rioting is a real publicity winner!

    The fact is that, every year, there are OO lodges and bands who commemorate “loyalist” terrorists – the same villains every year with a few additions.

    The OO “leadership” has done nothing about this. As I told you before – the pathetic “it’s a local matter” excuse doesn’t cut it. I don’t give a shit about OO rules – that’s their problem.

    The fact reamins that, as long as the OO “leadership” tolerate these links with “loyalist” terrorism, the organisation will be perceived as supporting it. In these circumstances, the OO will make no progress on contentious parades and membership will continue to decline.

    As a moderate Catholic, I would have no objection to an OO parade in my area if the OO ensured no “loyalist” terrorism banners/bands or guaranteed sanctions if any lodge/band offended.

    Unfortunately, the OO “leadership” cannot be trusted. When an OO lodge unfurled the Sam Rocket UVF banner in breach of a local agreement – the OO “leadership” took NO action. In fact, when the Parades Commission did take action, the OO “leadership” whinged about it.

    I say again – OO rules are their problem. However, if they are not going to take action when lodges/bands violate local agreements – then they simply won’t be allowed to parade there.

    I am aware that there are many parades (mostly outside Belfast) that pass off peacefully and that’s great. I have no time for spides on either side who simply want to cause trouble.

    In principle “Orangefest” is a good idea. However, the OO “leadership” seem to think that passing off the 12th as a festival is an excuse for them doing nothing about the links with “loyalist” terrorism – it isn’t.

    Frankly I don’t understand why they haven’t the guts to take action. Do you want these people in the OO? If they take offence and leave, would you care?

    Also, wouldn’t you possibly get a surge of new and/or returning members who have been put off by the links with “loyalist” terrorism?

    The OO need to accept that they can no longer march where and when they want. They also need to accept that, if they continue to allow, banners and bands commemorating “loyalist” terrorism, they will continue to be restricted and, undoubtedly, their membership will continue to decline.

    At the moment, the OO has totally lost the PR battle. If they took serious action to cut the “loyalist” terrorism stuff and were seen to do so – the perhaps there would be greater expectation of Catholic communities to compromise.

    However, for now, Nationalism has the high ground. People in the UK wouldn’t expect a black neighbourhood to welcome a parade commemorating racist thugs or a Jewish neighbourhood to accept a parade praising anti-Semites.

    There has been plenty of publicity surrounding OO parades commemorating “loyalist” terrorsists. The public know what’s occurring and there’s no support for the OO stance.

    Until the OO change “leadership” and/or change tactics, they’ll continue to fail and decline.

  • oldruss

    While it may be true that the total membership in the Orange Orders (Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Apprentice Boys and Black Preceptory) has declined, it is my contention that the Orders’ political influence, at least within the Unionist alignment (UUP, DUP, PUP, TUV) is a strong as it ever was. While Unionist MP’s no longer control the Stormont parliament as they once did, Unionist MLA’s can control the outcome of any legislation in the Assembly simply by withholding support.

    It is all the more surprising that the general Unionist electorate continues to allow the Orange Orders to dominate as they do. If the Orders are in fact declining in membership and support, why is there not an upswing in Unionist candidates and elected officials who are not also members of that restricted, sectarian, organization?

    Is there no place for non-sectarian unionism in the north?

  • The Orange Order today is a remarkable success story!!!! Why?….

    Well the Order is a fraternal organisation that came from and developed in days when there were no internet, no xbox, no disposable income full stop. Depspite the assertions by some within its ranks on the primacy of religion, any in depth investigation obviously shows it was primarily a means for people in a local area to socialise. Orange lodges were the first community groups in this Country!

    Today when the values of our society have changed so fundamentally, when there is so much competition for our free time, and when even in this credit crunch there still is a disposable income un paralelled to anything prior to 20 years ago- the Order still exists!! There is no other similar organisation in the World that has managed this! The Hibs are dead, even the Masonic order is dying.

    The Orange Order still has relevance to a massive number of people. The incredible amount of recent spin in the unsmypathetic media sounding its death kneel is wishful thinking at best.

    In the context of todays society the Order isnt just limping by, its an amazing success.

  • Neil

    Depspite the assertions by some within its ranks on the primacy of religion, any in depth investigation obviously shows it was primarily a means for people in a local area to socialise.

    Absolute bollocks. Read some history on the OO, from the brief synopsis of it’s history in Men that God Made Mad it was absolutely nothing of a social group, and all about instilling fear and rallying the troops. Makes fuck all difference obviously either way, especially in a 21st century context, but the statement above is blatent bullshit.

    For a little history read:

    It mentions the peep o day boys, that pre-eminent social club.'_Day_Boys

    “The Peep-of-Day Boys so-called on account of the nature of their attacks between dusk and dawn on the homes of their Catholic neighbours in search of arms.”

    Must have been socialising while they attacked their catholic neighbours wha?

    With reference to the death of the OO, I will agree that it will never happen. The OO will be with us forever more, which is why it would be a great idea for the residents groups and the OO to start making concessions to one another. Cause we’re all here to stay and ignoring each other hasn’t worked. But preconditions from either side would have to be left at the door which is easier said than done as the side getting what it wants at the minute is predisposed to not conceding anything. Perhaps alternating seasons of fucking over first the Orangmen and then the Nationalists would encourage both sides to deal with each other, as opposed to having a nightmare year every two years where you get nothing you want.

  • Yeah. Every orange lodge and member since the beginning has done nothing at meetings only plot the downfall of Rome and the persecution of their Catholic neighbours – the truth is that lodge meetings spend more time talking about the price of cattle and local gossip.

    I would be the first to admit that all has not been rosey and there are issues that should be addressed. But nothing in this world is one sided and over simplification like the above post does nothing except entrench the attitudes of hardliners on both sides of the argument, and in turn perpetuate division. (nice use of swear words by the way to accentuate your point- definetly helps).

    Any argument about the Order, its members and its parades being deliberatly sectarian and provocative can be shot down by the one simple obvious fact- the vast vast vast majority of lodges and parades take place in areas that are exclusively Protestant or have a massive Prod majority.

    When i joined the Order i was going into something my family had been in for generations that was important in my area. Im there 20 years and have yet to hear one political or anti-catholic comment during any meeting. In fact it, like many halls, wont let political organisations even use the hall. My lodge and hall is the focal point for the community. A monthly dance, a weekly pensioners club, a community group campaigning for local ammenities for ALL, education classes, music classes. Catholics have been through the doors are are welcome- but dont expect any emblems or memorabilia to be taken down. Accept us for what we are.

    Anti-Orange proponents are every bit as bitter and arrogant and partisan as what they try and label the Order.

    I admire what several on this site have done to try and understand the Order and the 100’000’s of people who still see it as important in their life. These things arent black and white.

    We are told Nationalist and Republicans are all ordainary people. Well i am too and im an Orangeman. And every member of the Orders is an ordainary person too.

    How about some more maturity in these debates.

  • Neil

    Very good Quincey, but you’ll note if you read my post, totally irrelevant to what I said. My response to this:

    Depspite the assertions by some within its ranks on the primacy of religion, any in depth investigation obviously shows it was primarily a means for people in a local area to socialise.

    has nothing to do with the downfall of Rome blah blah blah. What I’m saying is that to suggest historically that the OO was formed as a social organisation can be debunked within thirty seconds of the first web page to come up on google regarding the formation of the OO.

    I made it abundantly clear that this has no relevance in a 21st century context. What I am saying, if you’d be so kind as to focus your response to, is the quote above, from one of your posts, is utter shite (I have to agree, my swearwords do add the necessary zing to my points). Any ‘in depth investigation’ shows that the OO was absolutely not a social organisation as you contend. I have made absolutely no references to what the OO is now, I was merely responding to your claim that historically it was a social group. If you’d read the wikis I linked to in my first post, I feel you’d have trouble arguing against that.

  • oldruss

    With all due respect, the Orange Orders are most assuredly religious, specifically Protestant.

    The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland’s own web site states it clearly:

    “The Orange Institution is a Christian organisation.”

    “As Orangemen our trust is in God and our faith and dependence is in Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Lord of mankind. Our purpose is to maintain the Christian faith by word and deed; to propagate and defend that faith which we have received from the Church of the New Testament through the faithfulness of the Protestant Reformers. It is Christ-centred, Bible-based, Church-grounded. By it we are moulded in character and conduct.

    “The Orange Institution is set for the defence of Protestantism. This is true to the intention of Orangemen who are committed to the Christian faith with its Reformation emphasis on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as the Lord and Saviour of mankind. There are also the Protestant beliefs in freedom of conscience; the priesthood of all believers and the primary place and purpose of the Holy Bible in Christian faith and conduct.”

    I have no quarrel with religious fraternal organizations, per se, but what is concerning is that Unionism remains so closely tied to a fundamental Protestant religious organization. By being locked into a defence of Protestantism, Unionism remains exclusive rather than inclusive. Would it not be preferable if Unionism separated itself from the religious tenants of the Orange Orders, and instead became a modern political party?

  • You havent read my post. I didnt suggest it was formed as a social group. It was clearly formed from one single identifiable disturbance in Mountnorris, escalated because of agrarian economic concerns in the Mid-South Armagh area, several running battles took place (including one a short distance from where i live), with ‘party’ division becoming manifest in the Peep o day boys and the defenders. Who incidently were no worse than each other. These disturbances culminated with the battle of the diamond.

    I dont dispute that.

    I said the Order DEVELOPED into an organisation whose importance for members was undoubtadly its social aspects. And that social aspect has been the most important element of the organisation for many for many many decades.

    This is my view and one which i think can be verified. And i’ll repeat again that any in depth investigation reveals that. Wikipedia is not the be all and end all. This isnt an area thats been subject to much research.

    And YOU think it has no relevance in the 21st Century. I disagree as do many others. It still performs an important role, as does the GAA for example. Because you dispute that does not mean its not true.

    Reforms that many call for are non forthcoming directly as a result of the demonisation that partisan and agressive viewpoints like yours feeds.

    Im willing to accept blame for some things. Im willing to agree that changes need to be made. Unfortunatly the response that i should simply not be allowed to exist doesnt help to let me and people like me do anything about it.

  • Neil

    I feel we’re getting crossed wires a bit Quincey. What I was saying was irrelevant was the reasoning behind the formation of the OO, i.e. that in the 21st century it matters not why the OO was formed, it’s a different beast now as to what it was then.

    From my own Nationalist perspective, the OO is here to stay, as are Unionists and Nationalists. My belief is that while we generally wilfully misunderstand each other (Unionists and Nationlists I mean), accomodation will be the key to creating the required situation here. I live in West Belfast but grew up in Ballymena. One of the best friends I have ever had is an Orangeman, and I understand that the differences from one lodge to another can be vast.

    The problem as I see it is getting the side that has what it wants to give some of that ground up, as negotiations on this subject, as pointed out by Fair Deal, tend to be that the side who has what it wants won’t negotiate because they have what they want already. In the interests of a wider consensus on the issues perhaps the thing to do would be to create one body with the interests of residents at heart, and one looking after the interests of the OO. either that or as I said earlier, one year let the OO walk everywhere, and the next no contentious parades allowed.

  • Neil thats a much better way to put your point than your previous posts. Less confrontational. Agree with some aspects.

    Specifically on the contentious parades issue- well there are only about half a dozen out of 2000. Surely given that simple stat alone any reasonable person would not be using parade contention as the fundamental bone of contention with the order? Nor would they automatically assume that the order is at fault in those areas (which seems to be the media consensus) when 99.9% of parades have no issues? Im talking here about anyone who takes a reasoned, logical, intelligent approach to the subject.

    Im told by Republicans that im an Irishman. Im told by Republicans that these are Irish Roads. Why can an Irishman not walk on Irish roads?? Is because some people dont understand why i want to (or do not want to understand deliberatly for quasi political reasons) enough reason to deny me?

    The Order has been negligent. To some extent it has been arrogant. It needs to educate and it needs to be truthful when doing so.

    Ive been involved with the Band movement and the Orange for over 20 years. I dont think i am some evil monster full of bigotry and racism that has no desire other than to exterminate all Catholics. Nor am i an ignorant unintelligent thug who is being manipulated or taken advantage of. Im an ordainary person, and Orangemen are ordainary people.

    Any discussion that truly wants to make progress needs to begin on the basis that those with problems with the Order accept that.

  • Dewi

    “Catholics have been through the doors are are welcome” – Quincey – is that OO policy everywhere or custom and practice in your lodge?

  • It was wrong of me to single out Catholics in that statement. The reason being that we dont stand at the door when there are functions/ classes on and ask people their religion. I just happen to know that some of the tutors for classes, occasional council officals/ statutory body officials/ other workmen amd occasional visitors to dances etc have been from different traditions to ourselves. And they have been welcome.

    Every Orange Lodge in a large sense is an autonomous group, and as such local circumstances and experiences will dictate the directions they pursue when it comes to the use of halls (a small number still hold literally nothing but a monthly meeting). But there is definetly no such thing as any official Orange policy anywhere (even on a local level) listing who or who isnt welcome in an Orange Hall.