Orange “corner boys’ tricks”

In his Open Letter to the Grand Master of the Orange Order, Edward Stevenson, Liam Clarke indulges in some straight talking and in the process points to an incident which suggests the Order’s leadership were involved in a petulant sectarian maneouvre to get one over on both the Parades Commission and local catholics.

The Order’s leader had written to the Parades Commission asking that loyalist bands be permitted to play hymns as they passed by St. Matthews’ Church in East Belfast. The Commission had previously pronounced that loyalist bands could march by to the beating of a single drum beat, provoking the ire of First Minister Peter Robinson and the Order.

Stevenson’s letter was viewed as a move forward, involving as it did a direct engagement between the Order and the Parades Commission. No doubt with this in mind, the Commission revised its earlier determination, taking up Stevenson’s proposal to allow loyalists to play hymns as they marched past the Catholic Church.

Of course, on the day numerous loyalist bands proceeded to play the Sash as they marched past St. Matthew’s Church, with Orange apologists claiming that this is sometimes the tune accompanying Psalm 23. [Ed – you can hear it for yourself on the 25 min video of the parade passing that point.]

It was a cynical and sectarian maneouvre by loyalists, with the Orange Order leadership seemingly acquiescing in the tactic.

Here’s Clarke’s take:

Recently, you wrote to the Parades Commission – a wise move which you should build on. You asked that bands in east Belfast be allowed to play hymn tunes passing St Matthew’s Catholic church and this was agreed at your request.

Instead, a band played The Sash, claiming it was used in the 23rd Psalm. That made you look bad and the order untrustworthy.

Last year, offensive sectarian lyrics were chanted to the tune of What a Friend We Have in Jesus as a march passed Ardoyne shops.

These were corner boys’ tricks; an attempt to cause offence and break the spirit of the adjudication. You should condemn them and ensure that, in future, the order can be taken at its word.

And let us not forget that this was precisely the same location for the UVF-sponsored sectarian attack on the Short Strand enclave just a matter of weeks ago.

  • If only Mr Clarke knew what happened in the Parades Commission

  • JR

    The Orange Order is supposed to be about God and Ulster and that sort of thing. I wonder how the average Christian feels having his faith made a mockery of and used to score cheap political points. We all saw the video and there wasn’t much singing of Psalm 23 going on.

    I never really understood the strange blend of sectarianism and Christianity that the 12th is about but when given a clear option between the high moral ground of playing a hymn and the cheap pointless sectarian dig at their neighbors we all saw the choice that was made.

    I don’t think many Catholic’s could be genuinely annoyed by what the OO and the bands did. Just pity those who will abandon their integrity and religion at such a low price.

  • SK

    “Instead, a band played The Sash, claiming it was used in the 23rd Psalm. That made you look bad and the order untrustworthy.

    Last year, offensive sectarian lyrics were chanted to the tune of What a Friend We Have in Jesus as a march passed Ardoyne shops.”

    They’re almost too pathetic to be offensive at this point.

  • Nunoftheabove


    I’m not really getting your abandonment of religion point at all I’m afraid – what have they done which is specifically contrary to their professed biblical beliefs ?

  • dwatch

    “They’re almost too pathetic to be offensive at this point.”

    Indeed, nearly as pathetic as the “Vatican’s approach to child abuse in Ireland”

  • Hopping The Border

    Consumate whataboutery dwatch.

  • SK

    “Indeed, nearly as pathetic as the “Vatican’s approach to child abuse in Ireland”


    Whataboutery aside, it seems like a lot of 12th revellers simply wouldn’t enjoy the day if it didn’t involve upsetting a few taigs. The OO undermines itself by kow-towing to such people.

  • Stevenson has shown himself not man enough for the job he has taken on. Robinson remains silent after the incident mentioned by Clarke despite his intervention and protesting before it. First Minister for all?. We can answer that one straightaway.

  • lamhdearg

    “The Order’s leader had written to the Parades Commission asking that loyalist bands be permitted to play hymns “,
    Have the contents of this letter been made public? or are you and Liam, MAKING IT UP.

  • JR

    Abandon may be the wrong word there. I had though of saying selling out in my comment but that would imply they got something in return.

    I just think they are dishonestly using religion to score a cheap sectarian point. In my book that is in direct contradiction of said religion, what makes it even more pitiful is that they claim to be an organization that is religious in nature.

  • Nunoftheabove

    “The law of the land should not be stopped by crosier, or by collar” .

    Well said Enda lad. it’s a decent if desperately overdue and – for my taste – understated hint of commonsense but it’s missing something vital. It does not dilute the contempt in which the church is/should now held by right-thinking people everywhere or in any way deflect any of its institutional responsibility tin these matters o say that the underlying scandal of this is – particularly in relationship to the longer term horror of the neglect of the victims – is attributable very directly to the church’s relationship to and role within the institutions of the Irish state. A self-respecting republic will – or should – insist on a permanent end to it with immediate effect.

  • chewnicked

    I must have missed the statement condemning. the playing of the sash outside St. Matthews Church issued by local man of God and fellow christian, Rev. Mervyn Gibson?
    Mervyn is usually quick enough to give a quote explaining away orchestrated paramiltary street violence and I am sure that he condemned in forthright terms the bands that raised tensions by breaching the Parades Commission ruling?
    He did release such a statement didn’t he?

  • Nunoftheabove


    Sorry still not quite with you, woke up blonde this morning. In what respect/s – specifically religious respect/s, are/is its use dishonest per se ?

  • Nunoftheabove

    (Sorry about the mispaced post re. child abuse – supposed to in relation to another thread entirely – too little tonic, too much vodka last night it appears)

  • JR

    Sorry Nun,

    I don’t really know how to explain my point any better.

  • keano10

    Just for the sake of further accuracy – Virtually EVERY single band that passed St Matthews Chapel on BOTH the morning and evening parades played The Sash. There was more than just a little coincidence going on there…

  • Dec


    Maybe the BBC are MAKING IT UP too:

  • For Nunoftheabove here are three New Testament principles that have been violated by those singing sectarian songs to hymn tunes:

    1. Love your neighbour as yourself
    2. Love your enemies
    3. Turn the other cheek.

    Or to put it in the words of a hell-fire sermon.

    “Love your catholic neighbours, help them in all things, or you will burn in Hell. Love your republican enemies, lest you suffer eternal punishment. If they hit you with a brick, stand forward and invite them to throw a petrol bomb. Do not put on the airs of the righteous, but suffer as a humble Christian.”

  • PeterBrown


    I think that clearly the Parades Commission ruling has been strectehed to beyond breaking point and as a member of the Order I think that was wrong – there are no such things as hymn tunes but equally there is no excuse for playing party tunes which simply by their notation can be adapted to well known hymns, that is putting the cart before the horse.

    However you do yourself no favours by the hyperbole that “(v)irtually EVERY single band that passed St Matthews Chapel on BOTH the morning and evening parades played The Sash” when it has been noted elsewhere on this site that “(m)ost observers (the ones with notepads) reckoned they heard six bands play ‘The Sash’ on the way past” in the morning out of a total of twenty – to misrepresent the situation so badly is an equally squlaid corner boy trick. Six out of twenty is six too many but it is not virtually all or anything like it…

  • Nunoftheabove


    “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword”.

    That would be…compatible with the handily chosen 3 principles (…principles ?!) that you chose, yes ?

    I would have thought that the – in my opinion utterly immoral – injunction to love your enemies would mean that anyone could do pretty much as they pleased, certainly tune-wise; after all, the only biblically ordained response they could reasonably expect for their musical bother would be blissful bubbles of love being blown back at them (presumably out of the unturned cheek) for it by their fellow – albeit rival – Christians. Who’s to say that those opposing the Christian orange folks aren’t, as it were, modern representations of the Amalekites ? Has God said that they aren’t ?

  • between the bridges

    The Sash

    Sure l’m an Ulster Orangeman, from Erin’s isle I came, To see my British brethren all of honour and of fame,

    And to tell them of my forefathers who fought in days of yore, That I might have the right to wear, the sash my father wore!

    cho: It is old but it is beautiful, and its colors they are fine It was worn at Derry, Aughrim, Enniskillen and the Boyne.

    My father wore it as a youth in bygone days of yore And on the Twelfth I love to wear the sash my father wore

    For those brave men who crossed the Boyne have not fought or died in vain Our Unity, Religion, Laws, and Freedom to maintain,

    If the call should come we’ll follow the drum, and cross that river once more That tomorrow’s Ulsterman may wear the sash my father wore!


    And when some day, across the sea to Antrim’s shore you come, We’ll welcome you in royal style, to the sound of flute and drum

    And Ulster’s hills shall echo still, from Rathlin to Dromore As we sing again the loyal strain of the sash my father wore!


    i have heard

    23rd Psalm

    The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want;
    He makes me down to lie
    In pastures green; he leadeth me
    The quiet waters by.

    My soul he doth restore again,
    And me to walk doth make
    Within the paths of righteousness,
    E’en for his own name’s sake.

    Yea, though I walk in death’s dark vale,
    Yet will I fear no ill:
    For thou art with me, and thy rod
    And staff me comfort still.

    My table thou hast furnished
    In prsence of my foes;
    My head thou dost with oil anoint
    And my cup overflows.

    Goodness and mercy all my life
    Shall surely follow me;
    And in God’s house for evermore
    My dwelling-place shall be.

    set to the same music but i doubt anyone hearing it would think ‘ah 23’.I don’t have much knowledge on Belfast parades. But in enniskillen on 17th march can there was no restriction on any band playing any tune while pasting the chapel or the church opposite. in fact one band (st marys tempo) where stopped for 20mins and played various tunes i doubt if anywhere hymns. The large crowd managed not to be offended. 3 weeks later some of the same bands where back for a band parade and the parades commision ‘requested’ that no music be played past the same area…..

  • Billy Pilgrim


    “it seems like a lot of 12th revellers simply wouldn’t enjoy the day if it didn’t involve upsetting a few taigs. The OO undermines itself by kow-towing to such people.”

    What a laugh your distinction is.

    The Orange Order and the Twelfth are often misunderstood. People often think they are about fomenting anti-Catholic bigotry, but this is not so. They are about Protestant supremacy. The OO is a Protestant supremacist organisation.

    Now, of course, if one is to affirm one’s supremacy, one must have a clear idea who one is supreme over. Which is why anti-Catholic bigotry flows naturally from the OO and its activities. It’s the natural by-product, but the end in itself.

    The effect of all of this is well-known to all who live here. Rioting and murder are at the extreme end of the spectrum. At the less conspicuous end, one finds in workplaces that there are some Protestants (note, SOME) who are normal people for eleven months of the year, but who stonewall their Catholic colleagues during the month of July.

    (People not from NI have a hard time believing this shit goes on.)

    So the distinction between the OO, creator and perpetuating agent of widespread anti-social behavior at many levels at this time of year, and the more extreme examples of that anti-social behavior, is a bit of a laugh.

  • Clanky

    The notion that the orange order have somehow allowed political point scoring to take precedence over their religious beliefs would seem to imply that their religious beliefs were any more than a front for tribalism and a way to stir up hatred in the first place.

    If these people were in any way christians they would realise that celebrating a battle which happened over 300 years ago by marching up and down banging drums and playing sectarian songs while everyone gets drunk does not fit well with the spirit of Christianity.

  • Nunoftheabove


    It rather depends which particular spirit of Christianity you’d be wanting to apply from the apparently limitless drop-down menu options which that horrid belief system provides. They – or a good number of them – specifically attribute the military victory of the Williamites to divine providence. Not metaphorically or metaphysically, but literally. Be somewhat inappropriate therefore, when viewed within the framework of those beliefs , would it not – to do other than honour that victory very loudly indeed and with some considerable conviction and purpose, not least as they appears to ‘know’ that their opponents are all literally going to hell. I say, again, that the problem is not that their behavior transgresses religious values but quite to the contrary – it’s their belief (and those of their Christian ‘rivals’, often) in it which is problematic to begin with.

  • ranger1640

    Is the Sash not a bit like Danny Boy/Londonderry Air?

    When the words of the Sash are song it is the Sash, however when the tune is played is it not a folk tune of unknown name and origins?

    They can play it in Scotland, as a judge ruled the Sash non sectarian.

    Listen to Liam Clancy and the Wolftetones, prove that more than one set of words can be sung to the tune of the Sash.

    Now the alternative

  • ayeYerMa

    zzzzzzzzzzzzz, Chris “kick the prods” Donnelly scraping the barrel like the usual broken record.

    -What have those oh-so-bad prods done this time?
    -They’ve played a musical tune.
    -What?! A tune – that is DIGUSTING – my god how do those poor oppressed nationalists live!!! Brits out of Ireland – this 800 years of oppression must end – time to decommission all flutes!

  • lamhdearg

    that there was a letter, i do not dispute, the contents of the letter ie that”The Order’s leader had written to the Parades Commission asking that loyalist bands be permitted to play hymns” is not what it says in the bbc report, now either Liam has read the letter (which if he has where did he get his copy) and in it thats what the order asked for,or he is making up the bit that the order asked to play hymns.

  • chewnicked

    ‘DIGUSTING’ Wot dat mean?

  • SK

    “‘DIGUSTING’ Wot dat mean?”


    It must be Ulster Scots or something.

    It’s worth mentioning that the, er, ‘revised’ version of What a Friend we Have in Jesus mentioned in Clarke’s article included the following lyrics:

    “Holy Mary, I am dying. Just a word before I go. Set the Pope upon the table, and stick a poker up his h*le. Holy Mary, I am dying…”

    Sure it’s all good clean fun though, eh AyeYerMa?

  • Flute Bands – NOT THE ORANGE ORDER – play the most commonly used tune for the 23rd Psalm next to that known as “Crimond”. A tune that is used more often for the 23rd Psalm than “Belmont”, “Evan” or even “Orlington” tunes past a place of worship.

    Yet cries of sectarianism still arise from certain quarters…

  • Stu DeNimm

    The OO might be commemorating the 320-years-ago victory of a bunch of Dutch mercenaries who had the same religion as them over a bunch of Frenchmen who had the same religion as us, but who cares? Protestant supremacy is dead and gone. They can commemorate it all they like. They are wasting their breath. Why let them waste ours too?

    Whatever Orange marches have been in the past, judging from what we’ve seen here, in some places they consist of a bunch of normal citizens advertising their religion and politics and having a nice day out in their road-crew gear. Let them play whatever songs they like. As AYM points out, it’s silly to get upset about their choice of songs. Furthermore, “The Sash,” while sectarian, is not particularly offensive.

    If it’s unfair they they march through our neighborhoods with their flags and banners (which are beautiful, incidentally), then why nationalists should stage peaceful and decorous marches through theirs in Easter Week.

  • keano10


    The local residents association recorded a group of 12 bands going past St Matthews of which 9 were playing The Sash. This is being To The Parades Commission. Therefore your information is not only totally inaccurate but your subsequent ‘squalid corner boy ‘ comment is completely out of order.

  • PeterBrown


    Assuming you are as you indicate talking about the morning and evening parades in 2011 I was relying on the post at and have now watched the video on the other thread here

    To quote AiB on that post (again) “(s)ome bands had obviously been instructed by their hiring lodges to play other tunes, or to march to a simple drum beat for this part of the parade. Most observers (the ones with notepads) reckoned they heard six bands play ‘The Sash’ on the way past.”

    By my reckoning there are a total of 19 bands of who AiB’s independent observers accurately state that 6 play The Sash so unless you are disputing that the video is as is claimed in fact a total record the morning parade you are either don’t know The Sash, think every tune played by a band in a Orange Order parade is The Sash or you are at best misrepresenting the situation or a proven liar (take your pick).

    If I was the local residents group I would be careful about claiming that 9 of the 12 bands on their recording are playing The Sash when of 19 bands only 6 actually did so – under forensic analysis some of those bands must sound awfully alike! I withdraw the squalid corner boy comment borrowed from the title of this thread because although I think that to claim The Sash is a hymn tune is as I said earlier is stretching the truth to beyond breaking point at least it is stretching the truth – both your misleading posts are now demonstrably an insult to rule bending corner boys everywhere as they are simply lies!

  • PeterBrown

    24 hours later and still no response….

  • Jack2

    BillyPilgrim nails it here:

    “They are about Protestant supremacy. The OO is a Protestant supremacist organisation.”

    OO didnt or couldnt live up to its promises.
    Can it control its “members”?

    Have genealogists checked the lodges for the missing link?

    Forget looking in Sub-Saharan Africa for skeletons, 30 minutes spent on the field may yield better results.

  • aquifer

    The Order is having a summer sale.

    40% off their credibility

    They have been banned outright before. Iit is easy to see why even a british state can see their sectarianism as subversive.

    Perfect collaborators in anti-civilian crime for Continuity assassins and Real murderers, they manage to make Sinn Fein look respectable.


  • Rory Carr

    I was struck by how much Ranger1640’s contribution to this thread reminded me of a game in BBC Radio 4’s comedy show I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue (billed as “the antidote to panel games”) whereby panellists are invited to sing one song to the tune of another. On today’s programme, for example, the chairman, Jack Dee, invited panellists to sing I’ve Got a Brand New Combine Harvester to the tune of the Rollong Stones’ As Tears Go By and to sing I’m a Pheasant-Plucker’s Son to the tune of The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

    The only difficulty with this comparison is that it requires of the Orange Orders that their members have a sense of humour which, on current evidence, seems highly unlikely.