Orange EU Funding: An Opportunity to Exercise Responsible Society

Following the news that The Loyal Orange Order have received a grant of almost £900,000 from the European Union to help address the legacy of the Troubles and encourage cross-community interaction, people across the island of Ireland can only stand back in expectation of what is to follow.

Unsurprisingly, the decision has been met with support by many members of the Unionist camp, not least in the halls of Stormont. DUP MEP Diane Dodds triumphantly proclaimed that, “this money will enable a major amount of work to be undertaken to help build capacity within the Protestant community in border areas who suffered so much during the course of Troubles.”

While her heartfelt passions are no doubt sincere, they are highly and frustratingly predictable. Indeed, what observers are most eager to witness is in what form the Loyal Orange Order will enact the stipulated criteria of active cross-community relations. As it stands, the official rhetoric is tellingly void of such considerations.

Chairman of the Orange Community Network, Drew Nelson, kept his cards close to his chest when he reflected that, “there is an imbalance of weak community infrastructure, low confidence and low levels of participation within the Protestant community, particularly in interface and Border areas.”

The closest words to outreach are those of William McKeown, Grand Treasurer of the Lodge, who commented that the grant, “will equip the Protestant community with the ability to engage with the wider community and to encourage it to re-engage as equal partners as Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland move forward.”

Superficially full of promise, the words of Mr McKeown are decidedly cautious and carefully chosen, and while the praise and secular grumblings have been far reaching and triumphant, so far no one has been overly forthcoming with information as to how the funds will be used.

The most transparent revelation comes from the supportive overtures of Independent Strangford MLA, David McNarry: “this is a deserved recognition of the good work already being done… moreover, this is a clear indication of European financial support guaranteed to see that the work continues by the institution.”

In its simplest terms, the money will provided to the Orange Order to invest in projects it already runs, but will now be able to do so on a greater scale. And this will be achieved through the Stepping Towards Reconciliation in Positive Engagement (STRIPE) project to be based in Lurgan.

STRIPE will be led Dr. Jonathan Mattison of the Lower Iveagh District LOL, who will be joined by a team of fellow members of the Lodge. Which begs the question of who, if anyone, from the EU will monitor this activity? Critics fear that without tangible external arbitration, almost one million pounds will vanish into a series of progressive, but socially-exclusive projects. Inexplicably, Brussels has so far remained quiet on this matter.

To this end, the words of MEP Dodds are as revealing as they are emotive. Quoted on the DUP’s website, Mrs. Dodds further commented upon the Protestant community’s “legacy of that suffering and marginalisation”, while referring to the curiously-phrased, “Orange family”.

Honest and truthful sentiments they may be, but all Mrs. Dodd’s words serve to do is to reinforce an extended body of comment that has few, if any, references to other communities in Northern Ireland.

Taken as a whole, the secular rhetoric of the Unionist camp is particularly ill-considered when placed alongside the central role that the Orange Order will assume in the officially sanctioned – and highly controversial – commemoration of the Ulster Covenant later this year.

The political situation in Northern Ireland is, yet again, vicarious. Violent activity is making a resurgence within the six counties, and the tricolour debate over Stormont rages on. With this EU grant, The Loyal Orange Order has an opportunity to build some bridges and make proactive steps to redressing its damaged legacy through some mature and considered decision making. But if things continue to proceed as they are, this will become yet another poorly-executed shambles in an extended timeline of political irresponsibility.

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  • Of This Island, your writing style appears to consist of lengthy posts without a single hyperlink to refer readers to supporting materials. I urge you to reconsider this especially on topics like this one.

    I wish to query one line specifically in this piece: “And all that before anybody in Brussels even considers offering such outreach funds to Catholic communities.”

    These funds are provided through the EU Peace III Programme. On a quick scan of the materials, it appears that like most such programmes it relies on applications. A careless reading of the sentence above evokes the notion of Eurocrats seeking out parties as it sees fit with a wad of cash in their pockets and handing it out whimsically. So, here’s my question: have any Catholic-predominant organisations sought funding and if granted what concrete results have resulted from it?

  • Drumlins Rock

    Of This island,

    Who are you? where have you come from? have you an agenda?

    In three weeks you have started 4 threads, yet have not made one comments I can see. I would like to address the issues you have raised, and having some knowledge of the area believe I can, but I have no idea who I am addressing and whether you are willing to partake in a free exchange of views.

    I know I also choose to work under pseudonym, but am well know to many on here, and always open with my views, and one of my views is if you post a position you should be prepared to defend in the comments section after, or at the very last acknowledge those who make a contribution.

  • sherdy

    As a victim of the troubles, my self-confidence is very low also, and a million quid would help me talk to my neighbours. Where do I apply?

  • lamhdearg2

    Almost 900.000, why was talkback telling us 1.000.000. .
    before anyone claims hairsplitting, 100.000 is no hair in my book.
    that 100.000 could have helped fund a wonder jubilee party, or a new clyde valley.

    Of couse 1,000.000 is nothing compared to the cash we all will be putting up (60.000.000+?),to that other one sided group the gaa to build their new stadium

  • between the bridges

    good news long over due!! 18 million for a shrine, 800k for an organisation that had 10% of the overall victims and over 300 major attacks on halls. there are funded community centres that are gaa clubhouses in disguise. the OO have been upfront about what they are and what they do for the community, the cross community work will be engaging with and educating others to cultural wealth and heritage of the OO. and as an all ireland body the OO should be just about able to fulfill its cross border co operation…bish bosh show us the dosh!!

  • Hi Mark and Drumlins Rock,

    Thanks for your comments.

    Drumlins Rock: We are a group and have multiple writers with varied opinions on matters, though we do work in consultation with one another. While we don’t have a collective agenda, we do hold individual opinions which we would be happy to clarify if asked. We have an ethos of respecting the opinions of others regardless of whether we agree or disagree, attempting to look at issues through an academic lens wherever possible (though we do not require essays be academic in nature).

    Thus, we operate under the blanket pseudonym Of This Island in order to present a range of ideas under a convenient, collective banner. The name was chosen after careful consideration to ensure all the residents of the island of Ireland could be included equally and without political bias (see future post on Shared Origins).

    Saying that, we appreciate that you too operate under a pseudonym, yet unlike us, manage to engage in discussion. We have taken that on board and will operate as best we can going forward, in turn developing procedure that will allow writers to respond to their own posts under the Of This Island banner.

    Mostly we seek to generate discussion rather than prove a point as we have no wider agenda than to hopefully provoke thought. We have not responded to anyone directly (until now!) as no one yet, as far as we can see, has directly addressed us with a question.

    Due to the approach favoured by our writers, the nature of our writing is mostly essay format. This is not to say we won’t submit shorter blog posts in future!

    ****

    Mark: We are still new here on Slugger and will add hyperlinks in future, thank you for the advice. As for the final line, fair point well-made and one which we must concede is poorly phrased. We have removed it due to its confusing – and probably spurious – nature.

    ****

    I hope this has helped clarify any issues with Of This Island and we are keen to continue to be involved in discussion and debate in the future.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Of This Island,
    thanks for replying, it is genuinely appreciated and I think the two way process, even if it gets a little heated at times, is what makes Slugger special. I genuinely wonder how you will manage to express different opinions under the one banner, that will be interesting to watch, for now I will treat you as “one person” like everyone else.

    As for the main points of your article….
    I will try to deal with that later, am already late here!

  • Of The Island: thanks for your reply.

  • wild turkey

    OTI

    a no bullshit and genuine reply to both DR and MD.

    your tone and style is appreciated.

    in this precinct it has a certain rarity value.

    good luck and look forward to further posts…. whether i necessarily agree with them or not (does it really matter?)

    anyways… “With this EU grant, The Loyal Orange Order has an opportunity to build some bridges and make proactive steps to redressing its damaged legacy through some mature and considered decision making.”

    agree.
    900k is barely some piss in the peace and conflict resolution bucket. so why begrudge it the investment raises the potential for some positive outcomes.

  • Pete Baker

    We are a group and have multiple writers with varied opinions on matters, though we do work in consultation with one another. While we don’t have a collective agenda, we do hold individual opinions which we would be happy to clarify if asked. We have an ethos of respecting the opinions of others regardless of whether we agree or disagree, attempting to look at issues through an academic lens wherever possible (though we do not require essays be academic in nature).

    Thus, we operate under the blanket pseudonym Of This Island in order to present a range of ideas under a convenient, collective banner. The name was chosen after careful consideration to ensure all the residents of the island of Ireland could be included equally and without political bias (see future post on Shared Origins).

    Resistance is futile!

    On a more serious note. It reads just like you’d imagine a blog post by committee would read, jumping from one point to another without evidencing what has gone before… Subsequent edit included.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    OTI,
    Not a big deal but with the moniker Of This Island, I’m not sure you can really say “we have no wider agenda.” I write as one who has quite deliberately worn my national allegiance on my sleeve with my Slugger name. Don’t tell me you didn’t realise you were doing it …

    But otherwise, happy writing and don’t worry there are lots of us that don’t put in links. I really should learn.

  • ForkHandles

    OTI, the idea of being an all views entity doesnt work. Each individual in your group needs to identify themselves when they voice their views. This website is about Northern Ireland mainly. IE about NI and the wider UK current affairs. If you want to voice opinions about the ROI then you are mainly an Irish Nationalist group. Its true that people on this site like to pretend that NI is linked to the ROI in some way, but this is just make believe on their part. If you want to be part of this group then you should say so. Otherwise be part of the normal discussions regarding NI and wider UK affairs and any ROI affairs that come into the scope of the discussion.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Rite its midnight but I will try to answer some of the issues raised, yes it looks like a big figure, but I think its over 3 years so that makes it less than ten quid per member per year, espically when you consider it covers all 9 counties of Ulster (not sure if the Dublin & Leitrim lodges are included).

    Which is the first benefit for “peace” even at the application stage it had to be cross border, reminding those at the top they are the Grand Orange Lodge of IRELAND, the cross border work that in already developing has been positive and hopefully this project will develop it further, some of the existing projects I am aware of are both cross border and cross-community, which to be honest is often easier than cross-community at home, but it makes the road to that easier.

    As for the various statements, caution goes with the territory and the culture, on one hand some of the membership remain strongly suspicious of such activity, but just as much is the “presbyterian” culture of understatement, blowing your own trumpet or grand proposals are frowned upon.

    Regarding the governance, I believe there has been funder participation throughout the process to date and would expect that to continue in some manner. As for you asertation “STRIPE will be led Dr. Jonathan Mattison of the Lower Iveagh District LOL, who will be joined by a team of fellow members of the Lodge” I am shocked to find out that only members of Lower Iveagh District Lodge are employed in the project! Which is strange in that the jobs were openly advertised, and Orange Order membership was not a pre-requisit, I don’t know who has been employed this time, but in similar roles in the past the workers have often been female and not necessarily protestant.

    “Critics fear that without tangible external arbitration, almost one million pounds will vanish into a series of progressive, but socially-exclusive projects. Inexplicably, Brussels has so far remained quiet on this matter.”
    That my friend is just a cheap dig and discredits any idea that the article is a fair and just comment, and it just goes downhill from there on, descending into petty digs and ranting.

    Thank-you for raising the subject and hope I have clarified a few issues for you, but next time try not to let the bile and bigotry rise just so quick to the surface.

  • latcheeco

    Lamhdearg2
    “Almost 900.000, why was talkback telling us 1.000.000 .
    before anyone claims hairsplitting, 100.000 is no hair in my book” Couldn’t agree more, and as true of declining populations as euros.

    Is this a bribe for something specific or an initial freebee to get the good brethren hooked?

  • between the bridges

    OTI “”Mostly we seek to generate discussion rather than prove a point”, and ”I hope this has helped clarify any issues with Of This Island ” in my own (non committee formed) humble opinion you have failed on both counts, the blog is full of snide remarks and digs at orangeism and unionism…
    ”Dodds triumphantly proclaimed ” ”highly and frustratingly predictable.” ”Superficially full of promise,” ” the secular rhetoric of the Unionist camp” ”curiously-phrased, “Orange family”.”officially sanctioned – and highly controversial ”

    pray do tell ( and this is a direct question) what point you where not making? anyway better luck next time, but i won’t hold my breath…

  • Wild Turkey. I can’t see the EU discriminating between the two sides so I expect a similar payout is in the pipeline to the nationalist side as well at some point..

  • Hopping The Border

    ” Its true that people on this site like to pretend that NI is linked to the ROI in some way, but this is just make believe on their part.”

    Aha I’ve got it, the border is just make believe, Northern Ireland is actually an island on its own (very very close to Scotland of course).

  • Turgon

    Of this island,
    Firstly some nice man playing (though can one man play a committee?). It is very difficult to write by committee (if you have done any academic work you will know well). Slugger is not really academic (I mean that politely) but more journalistic in nature and journalism by committee is next to impossible.

    Might I suggest you have subsidiary names as well as “Of this Island” hence, making clear which of you has done a given piece yet taking collective ownership of it much the way scientific papers are written.

    As to remaining anonymous I would suggest you continue to do so for the mean time though I frequently consider dropping my anonymity.

    On a specific point you repeatedly used the terms Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland which are reasonably neutral: the addition of “six counties”, however, is a bit jarring if you want to avoid accusations of bias – maybe someone on the committee should have spotted that though it is a minor point.

    On the substance of the post it could read a little churlishly about unionists and their representatives: equally if you are as caustic about nationalists (and letsgetalongerists) in the future you will be on safer ground.

    Your comment about EU funding and oversight is very valid. EU funding frequently has poor oversight: it is pure whataboutery but a classic example is that when Michelle O’Neill tried to approve EU funding for a terrorist memorial in Crossmaglen it was not stopped by the EU.

    As such criticising EU oversight of its funding projects is entirely valid. However, as Drumlins Rock has pointed out the inference you draw from that genuine problem (EU oversight of its grants) is very poor. Orange halls are used for many things and frequently by both sides of the community. The fact that the OO is the lead in a project does not automatically make it exclusive any more than the fact that the GAA is the lead in a project makes it exclusive.

    The following two paragraphs should be linked and you should have made that clear:

    Chairman of the Orange Community Network, Drew Nelson, kept his cards close to his chest when he reflected that, “there is an imbalance of weak community infrastructure, low confidence and low levels of participation within the Protestant community, particularly in interface and Border areas.”

    The closest words to outreach are those of William McKeown, Grand Treasurer of the Lodge, who commented that the grant, “will equip the Protestant community with the ability to engage with the wider community and to encourage it to re-engage as equal partners as Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland move forward.”

    There is a huge problem of weak infrastructure, poor participation and lack of confidence in border Protestant communities: much of that due to the IRA’s murder campaign in those areas. In order to increase community participation, however, community confidence must be rebuilt and necessarily that will begin within border Protestant communities. Once that community confidence has been rebuilt then expecting engagement with the Catholic community is entirely reasonable.

    This is a mirror image of the same problem in overwhelmingly Protestant / unionist areas where the Catholic community does not feel able to take part: again building up the communities own self confidence is a vital prerequisite to expecting wider engagement.

    Despite you allegedly scholarly article the failure to recognise this basic point about community confidence and cohesion prior to expecting outreach fatally flaws your argument and I am afraid calls into question the validity of your academic pretensions.

  • “highly and frustratingly predictable”

    OTI, is the organisation for which you speak indulging in similar rhetoric? The phrase ‘redressing its damaged legacy’ is hardly a neutral comment nor is the the use of ‘triumphantly’.

    EU funds go to a wide range of groups and projects which don’t necessarily reflect the letter and spirit of the three-strand 1998 Agreement and its subsequent modifications; OTI itself appears to be embedded in Strand 2 so it’s hardly likely to be enthused by the Agreement, let alone by the Unionist-orientated OO.

    SEUPB deals with a segment of both EU funding and the Agreement. Even in an age of austerity it still found it possible to financially support the yachting fraternity. Will OTI be exercised by such largesse?

    The SEUPB press release is a bit muddled:

    EU to Help Build Confidence in Protestant Communities

    18 April 2012

    The Orange Order has received a grant of almost £900,000 from the European Union to help address the legacy of the Troubles in the Protestant community.”

    The OO is only representative of part of the Protestant community so it is likely to deploy this funding in a manner that supports its own organisation.

  • Zig70

    Why are you lot so obsessed with the GAA? The comparison would be with Rugby or another sport. Is orange marching now a sport? Maybe some of this money should be spent learning about your fellow ulstermen, rather than tired snipes. The underlying bit of this thread is the accusation that the oo has no intention or plans for any cross community spending. All the stuff about building confidence first is just smoke. I’d like to hear of any cross community projects, DR alluded to some and I know they exist, maybe some of the exalted links.

  • lamhdearg2

    zig, the O.O. is almost exclusively non irish nat, the G.A.A. almost exclusively irish nat, thats the comparison.
    rugby, real football, and other purely sporting organisation, are in the main much more cross community.

  • Drumlins Rock

    GAA Basic Aim
    The Association is a National Organisation which has as its basic aim the strengthening of the National Identity in a 32 County Ireland through the preservation and promotion of Gaelic Games and pastimes…..The Association shall actively support the Irish language, traditional Irish dancing, music, song, and other aspects of Irish culture. It shall foster an awareness and love of the national ideals in the people of Ireland, and assist in promoting a community spirit through its clubs.

    The rugby website just seems to talk about rugby.

    I don’t think you really would be interested in hearing of these projects Zig.

  • Zig70

    My kids are the only Nat kids at their rugby club and there are protestant kids at their gaa club. Both are all about the sport. The main complaint seems to be the GAA is Irish, which I think is understandable (being very Irish that is). The rugby has a community element too which wouldn’t always blend with my views. The guys in both who give their time deserve a lot of respect. Good luck to the oo to get the money but the reponses to the thread are thin on substance. I will read it DR and take it on board, your posts are usually good. My thinking would be that the oo exclude so put me straight. Otherwise the cross community thing was just a bluff and to be honest I doubt there is a peace iII application out there that isn’t a big fairy story.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Zig, the whole Peace funding is primarily a method of subsidising pen pushers at its many complex levels, but let be generous and say half of it actually is put to productive use, that isn’t so bad even if the groups are mainly one side, or the other. If these group were already cross community the boost is good, if they aren’t then even if only a fraction of the amount goes that direction it is at least a step forwards and breaks the ice.

  • Drumlins Rock

    ps, just wondering, why are your kids Nationalists, but the other kids Protestants?

  • Hopping The Border

    DR:

    I understand and respect your affection for and pride in the Orange traditions.

    I think in rural areas it performs a vital and sometimes admirable function (albeit in the majority for one side of the community)

    But the fact remains:

    The OO names Roman Catholics as a specific group (and those with close associations to “them”) and excludes “them” as a rule.

    The GAA does not by default exclude anyone, however its constitution expresses support for the notion of a 32 county Ireland.

  • Drumlins Rock

    I understand and respect your affection for and pride in the GAA traditions.

    I think in rural areas it performs a vital and sometimes admirable function (albeit in the majority for one side of the community)

    But the fact remains:

    The GAA enforces a specific political view and excludes those that dont hold that view as a rule.

    The Orange Order is a Protestant organisation with religion playing a central role in its customs, Catholics, Muslims, Hindus and athiests could not genuinely be involved.

    However, that only applies to lodges, bands are open to anyone, most community events are open, the parades are both free and freely accessible to watch, true not everyone one want to associate with the culture, but they certaily aren’t excluded in any rules.

  • @ All.

    Thank you for your constructive criticisms.

    We have taken all your points on board, and after consultation with the writer of this particular piece and others who make up OTI (some of who agree with you about the potentially biased tone of this particular article), we have made the decision to refrain from posting about current affairs which may prove politically divisive or inflammatory using the collective entity that is OTI. It is contrary to our aim of cooperation and respect for differences.

    Some of you have asked for specific responses. We have alerted the writer in question to the need to address your points, and we hope to have their responses posted as soon as they make them available. Furthermore, our writers have now agreed that should they wish to post things of this nature in the future they will do so through separate personal accounts rather than using the OTI platform.

    Future OTI essays/articles will focus on social, historical and cultural elements of the island of Ireland. By that we mean the island as a purely geographical entity, separate of the politics of the two nations which exist upon it.

    Through this new approach, we hope to more closely meet our goal of examining the island of Ireland through a lens of mutual cooperation and respect for our differences; a task which you aptly point out will never be an easy one for many reasons but is nevertheless one we as a group feel is worthwhile.

  • Zig70

    DR, I know my kids are Irish Catholics, though the oldest doesn’t fall for the god thing. The protestant kids I know little about other than the church their parents go to.

  • lamhdearg2

    zig, the gaa excludes political beliefs, not only unionism of the British kind but all non irish nats, the O.O. excludes religious beliefs, not only roman catholics but all non protestants, they are really quite the same, but opposing, also one gets its exercise walking around, the other running around.

  • lamhdearg2

    why do none of the protestant kids ever make it to county level

  • lamhdearg2

    Ohh and both groups get grants, the O.O. gets 800.000+ from the taxpayers of Europe, the G.A.A gets 60.000.000+ from the British taxpayers.
    ? why does the G.A.A. get 70 times the money, from a tenth of the people.
    * all number are approx

  • Drumlins Rock

    Zig, I hope my question wasn’t construed as a dig at kids, just your choice of language drew a wry smile as Catholic/Nationalist/Republican Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist we well know aren’t fully interchangable, as you hilighted.

    The Orange Order excludeds Catholics, but not Nationalist, Republicans would probably not feel very comfortable with much of the Royal symbolism, whereas the the GAA excludes Unionists and Loyalists (although the very early SF would count as such?) and the Catholic symbolism often evident would make many Protestants uncomfortable.

  • Pete Baker

    Of This Island

    “Thank you for your constructive criticisms.”

    And the unconstructive ones? 😉

    Let me try a few questions then.

    How many members are there in your “group”?

    Are you an ad hoc organisation, or a pre-existing one?

    If ad hoc, then who is responsible for recruiting your members and what are the criteria for membership?

    If pre-existing, then why are you not using that identity?

    You claimed not to have “a collective agenda”, but you do have a “goal” and an “aim” – “examining the island of Ireland through a lens of mutual cooperation and respect for our differences”.

    No doubt you regard that as a noble agenda, many would probably agree. But it is still an agenda.

    And even the Borg thought their agenda was a noble one…

  • between the bridges

    perhaps island of the borg could do a follow up academic lens piece on where all the previous ‘peace’ money has gone and a breakdown of what ‘communities’ have benefited…

  • Turgon

    Of this island,
    I think you may slightly misunderstand the criticism (well mine anyhow).

    Of course you have biases: we all do. If you are academics (I do not doubt you) then you must be aware that current affairs, culture, politics, history, most things are open to interpretation and in commenting on them we all have our biases. You should not attempt to avoid your bias or avoid controversy. Rather you should embrace it. A huge advantage of slugger is instant and two way feedback in a manner impossible in journals and difficult to have with adequate reference etc. in conference debates etc.

    You will not foster cooperation and respect differences by subjugating your own views individually or collectively.

    Use of individual names or pseudonyms is a good idea.

    If I may speculate you seem to be a group of well meaning mainly nationalist minded or neutral (or very small u unionist) individuals. There is nothing there to be remotely ashamed of. Of course if you post anything non unionist the unionist commentators will jump on you. Pretending not to be nationalists (or whatever you are) will not endear you to unionists: actually it will earn our contempt. Only when you are comfortable in your own identity can you hope to promote mutual cooperation and respect for our assorted differences.

  • This is a complete waste of EU taxpayers money. I am not saying that from an anti Orange stance, nor would I suggest that the money would not be used for its intended purpose.

    I would not agree to giving money to any organisation for cross community bridge-buidling purpose. They are are all useless. I wish all the do-gooders would just disappear.

  • Hopping The Border

    “The Orange Order is a Protestant organisation with religion playing a central role in its customs, Catholics, Muslims, Hindus and athiests could not genuinely be involved.”

    So I am correct in thinking that in Orange tradition and in the governing rules and working policy of the institution, no one religion is singled out for special treatment, particularly in terms of familial connections and previous personal connections to that faith?

    Also, perhaps you would illustrate where in the constitution of the GAA any rule exists barring holders of any specific political belief from competing in the sport?

  • Hi Pete,

    As writers and anoraks, your intrigue flatters us!

    But since our writers wish to remain anonymous, we are unable to provide certain details about the structure of OTI. There are fewer than ten of us, and this number fluctuates depending on who is available to write at certain times.

    OTI is a new concept (hence the teething problems you’ve identified!), but a couple of the members have known each other since the dark old days of university.

    Our main criteria, as our blog profile (http://www.blogger.com/profile/03823046615798095409) demonstrates, is that our writers are born of the island of Ireland, or are of close ‘Irish’ descent.

    As for our ‘agenda’, it is not as sinister as it might appear through the cold medium of a blog 😉 We are, as our profile indicates, concerned with engaging in the culture, history, and idiosyncrasies of the geographic island of Ireland.

    We hope this clears up a few things up for you!

    PS. Loving the avatar.

  • @ Turgon,

    Thanks for the comment, its good to get raw, honest guidance from someone who has obviously been doing this longer that we have!

    Your deduction that we are essentially ‘neutral’ with some feet in each ‘camp’, (if you will) is pretty much spot on.

    As a result we’re interested in what everyone has to say. Problems have been identified with this approach however, but such is the joy of an ‘editorial’ team (ha!) under a non-affiliated umbrella.

    We appreciate the encouragement to be honest and have our writers defend their positions. It is important to clearly make the distinction that OTI is a free speech ‘group’ that has multiple writers, as opposed to just one individual. An elementary oversight on our behalf…!

  • Pete Baker

    OTI

    It’s not intrigue. Although they may be stupid questions.

    “But since our writers wish to remain anonymous, we are unable to provide certain details about the structure of OTI.”

    Indeed.

    “OTI is a new concept (hence the teething problems you’ve identified!), but a couple of the members have known each other since the dark old days of university.”

    Indeed, again. I’m sure OTI is “a new concept”. But that doesn’t address the questions I asked.

    “We are, as our profile indicates, concerned with engaging in the culture, history, and idiosyncrasies of the geographic island of Ireland.”

    As are most of us bloggers here, as well as being concerned about the wider cultural, historical, societal and political idiosyncrasies involved. Oh, and seeking a clearer picture of what is actually going on – my own personal agenda.

    We don’t, in general, exclude certain areas that may prove problematic. And not after “some of [your own writers] agree [] about the potentially biased tone of this particular article”. You do see how that might prove problematic in any attempt by your group to “focus on social, historical and cultural elements of the island of Ireland”?

    But you were more specific in your earlier responses.

    And I’m sure you don’t regard your agenda as “sinister”. I’m not concerned that it is. But it is an agenda.

  • ForkHandles

    “Aha I’ve got it, the border is just make believe, Northern Ireland is actually an island on its own (very very close to Scotland of course).”

    No Hopper, NI is not an island! Neither is the border make believe. Honestly, i don’t know what the quality of education is getting to these days… 🙂

  • lamhdearg2

    “I subscribe to and undertake to further the aims and objectives of the Club and of Cumann Lúthchleas Gael (The Gaelic Athletic Association)and to abide by its Rules”
    “The Association is a National Organisation which has as
    its basic aim the strengthening of the National Identity
    in a 32 County Ireland”

    So to join the gaa you MUST, fill in a from in which you agree to,
    “undertake to further the aims and objectives” of the gaa, those objectives include” its basic aim” the strengthening of the National Identity
    in a 32 County Ireland”,
    and if you dont you will be put out because,
    “The rights of a Member of the Association shall be
    conditional upon the member complying with the
    Rules and Regulations of the Association”

    in short dont apply unless you support a 32 county ireland, this = dont apply it you are not an irish nationalist that = unionist are banned.

    now i dont mind that the gaa is for irish nationlists only, what i mind is that some people lie about that.

  • Mark

    G/Night LD ,

    Friendly obsverations ….LD ,

    How many GAA officials in the last 50 yrs have made deflamatory statements / remarks about the Protestant culture etc . I don’t know , I’m asking and I know you know where I’m coming from . LD , I’m not trying to rake up the past , well not in a negative way ..

    I’m glad to OO got their bread and I”m sure they’ll use it in a positive manner and if it helps with cross community relations then great !! give them double next year .

    In fact can someone find out how much they’d take to pack up their gear and move to Wales for good . ( I cant do the smileys either )

  • Mark

    Friendly Observations even …

  • lamhdearg2

    hope you enjoyed spain.

  • Drumlins Rock

    “Membership of the Association shall be granted only by a Club, to persons who subscribe to and undertake to further the aims and objects of the Gaelic Athletic Association, as stated in the Official Guide.”

    “Playing Membership Requirements
    (a) A player must be a registered Full Member or Youth Member of a Club and the Association.”

    You must declare a political opinion to play a sport?

    Of course this dosn’t apply to under 18 yr olds, so your a young Protestant (or Catholic Unionist, or,nothing in particular from a mixed family say) playing GAA for years with your Catholic neighbours, come your 18th birthday your asked to sign a form stating you will “undertake to further the aims and objectives….. of strengthening the National Identity in a 32 County Ireland” being an honest sort you say i’m sorry but I have a different political opinion, but surely I can still play football? Not according to the rules, surely that is rather cruel?

    I could probably accept any official or managerial role in running the club to be solely for members, but can player not be allowed to merely acknowledge the aims and objective rather than “undertake to further them”.

  • Mark

    Yeah , thanks for asking , a bit of craic with the kid .

    I”ve just been reading how much you’ve been enjoying yourself here recently .. lol

  • Mark

    Would the bit about ” undertake to further them ” to an 18 yr old merely mean to try hard for which ever team you play for , to turn up for training on time each week , to support your teammates ( it is a sport after all ) . I don’t know how dated the membership requirements are or if they are reviewed but at the end of the day , too most people on the Island the GAA means Dublin vs Kerry ALL Ireland day , Tyrone vs Kerry All Ireland day . Do you need to prove religion to buy a ticket to a match ….

  • Dewi

    “Orange halls are used for many things and frequently by both sides of the community”

    Are they really Turgon? I thought Catholics were banned from them?

  • lamhdearg2

    Mark, it states “the club and the gaa” and the “basic aim” of the gaa, is to promote the 32 county ireland.
    i dare say that most members/players are more interested in the game side, and i dare say that most oo members do not spend there meeting/marching time discussing the differance between the chirstian religions.

    Dewi, at the rish of being curt,you thought wrong.

  • Hopping The Border

    It appears the entire first page of comments has disappeared…

  • lamhdearg2

    Hopping, count yourself lucky, but if you must, this may help, i find i (sometimes) need to log in again, after i click on “older comments).

  • between the bridges

    dewi ”Are they really Turgon? I thought Catholics were banned from them?”
    as LD says you thought wrong, there are loads of catholic orangemen and roman catholic’s are not banned from halls, i hope this clears it up for you…

  • Hopping The Border

    Fork Handles:

    “Its true that people on this site like to pretend that NI is linked to the ROI in some way, but this is just make believe on their part”

    “No Hopper, NI is not an island! Neither is the border make believe. Honestly, i don’t know what the quality of education is getting to these days…”

    So wait, NI and ROI are not linked in some way, but actually they are?

    Maybe you were a bit confused writing your initial post. Glad to see you’ve corrected yourself. As for the quality of education these days it’s difficult for me to say, in fact I just don’t know.

  • Hopping The Border

    DR:

    “The Orange Order is a Protestant organisation with religion playing a central role in its customs, Catholics, Muslims, Hindus and athiests could not genuinely be involved.”

    So I am correct in thinking that in Orange tradition and in the governing rules and working policy of the institution, no one religion is singled out for special treatment, particularly in terms of familial connections and previous personal connections to that faith?

    As for your extracts from the Constitution, a very fair point, particularly on the “undertake to further ” issue but much like Ireland’s relationship with the Catholic Church, it’s more of an a lá carté nature these days.

    No one is going to come after you if you are seen not to be “undertaking” to further the organisation’s aims, though as to how you might undertake them in that respect frankly I’ve no idea.

    On the other hand, if the boys from Sandy Row hear you’ve been at a RC funeral, you might as well stick on Irving Berlin and Fred Astaire..

    One final question, is there a governing charter/constitution/rulebook etc for the OO or is it more commonly agreed principles from which minor deviations are allowed, depending on the lodge?

  • latcheeco

    BTB
    “there are loads of catholic orangemen”

    That’s possibly the best comment ever put on Slugger. Not only are they all unionists, but now they are joining the loyal orders in droves.

  • Drumlins Rock

    HTB, originally the rules only mentioned Roman Catholics, most of the rules are around 200 yrs old so there really was only the one or the other in those day. Rather than remove those reference the more recent updates tacked on “and other non-reformed faiths”.

    In my view its clumsy, petty and completely un-necessary to retain the reference and “single out” Roman Catholics, ( other Grand Lodges such as Canada & America, I believe have removed these references) but in practice it makes no difference. Its like saying I want a red car, it should not be blue or any other no-red colour.

    If can can indulge and streach the GAA comparison further, if I was to play for my local GAA team next Sunday and score the winning goal in a final, as a well know Unionist I predict someone on the rival team would challenge my elligability to play based on my adherance to the Aims & Ethos!

  • “there are loads of catholic orangemen”

    Perhaps he is talking about “Anglican” as opposed to “Roman” Catholics

    As a matter of interest, does anybody appreciate that doctrinally speaking, there are greater differences between Anglicans and Presbyterians than there are between Anglicans and Roman Catholics?

  • Drumlins Rock

    latch, I’m a catholic Orangeman. Probably would not say I’m a Catholic Orange, although my uncle would.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Seymour, try reading the 39 articles sometime!

    Liturgically there are greater differences but doctrinally no. Just came from an Anglican service this afternoon, didn’t find much to disagree with.

  • DR, isn’t the Nicene Creed shared by various Christian denominations? Would you be a ‘holy catholic and apostolic’ Orangeman?

  • DR, I have read the 39 Articles, thank you very much. My father used to quote parts of it from time to time (particularly about priests being able to marry) but I stand by what I have said.

    I would be willing to debate that the Anglican Church is not really a reformed church at all but I wont go into that on this thread.

    Now lets get to the real nitty gritty. When it comes to debating whether or not a Catholic can join the OO, the rights and wrongs do not come into (unless you live in Canada). The reality is that being against the Pope is part of the OO’s Raison d’être. Take that away and you take away the core of its tradition and culture. Imagine the OO as just a Unionist Organisation. I cant. What would be the point of their existence?

    I personally am quite relaxed about it. I say leave tradition alone. Let NI Prods be themselves. Lets face it, the Catholics have plenty of their own ridiculous bigoted rules and canon law to deal with. Lets start with the fact that they dont allow protestants to have holy communion in a Catholic Church.

  • between the bridges

    latcheeco like DR i am a catholic orangemen

    http://ireland.anglican.org/worship/13

  • between the bridges

    seymour..”I would be willing to debate that the Anglican Church is not really a reformed church at all but I wont go into that on this thread”…. as you say not for this thread but an interesting debate i suppose it all depends on your definition of reformed!

  • latcheeco

    BTB & DR,
    I did think of that but you aren’t normally labelled as catholics; you are Anglican, or Cof I and in some parts episcopalian no?. The reference to catholic orangemen made me wonder what the lodge name would be… the rising sons of self-loathing?

  • between the bridges

    latcheeo indeed never let facts get in the way of ‘normal labeling’..as for lodge names how about LOL 1916 ‘oppressed whingers’ …

  • latcheeco

    O.K. well to prove your point you and Drumlin could run through the Village next 11th night shouting I’m a catholic and see how the facts work out.

    Anyway your lodge name is pisspoor. Where’s your imagination? What’s wrong with LOL 0000 Young Unicorns?

  • Drumlins Rock

    Latch & Seymore, just copyied this chunk out of Wikipedia for yous,

    The word catholic (derived via Late Latin catholicus, from the Greek adjective καθολικός (katholikos), meaning “universal”[1][2]) comes from the Greek phrase καθόλου (kath’holou), meaning “on the whole”, “according to the whole” or “in general”, and is a combination of the Greek words κατά meaning “about” and όλος meaning “whole”.[3][4] The word in English can mean either “including a wide variety of things; all-embracing” or “of the Roman Catholic faith” as “relating to the historic doctrine and practice of the Western Church.”[5]

    It was first used to describe the Christian Church in the early 2nd century to emphasize its universal scope. In the context of Christian ecclesiology, it has a rich history and several usages. In non-ecclesiastical use, it derives its English meaning directly from its root, and is currently used to mean the following:
    universal or of general interest;
    liberal, having broad interests, or wide sympathies;[6] or
    inclusive, inviting and containing strong evangelism.

    The term has been incorporated into the name of the largest Christian communion, the Catholic Church (also called the Roman Catholic Church). However, many other Christians use the term “Catholic” (sometimes with a lower-case letter “c”) to refer more broadly to the whole Christian Church or to all believers in Jesus Christ regardless of denominational affiliation.[7] [8] Theologians writing in English will sometimes use the term “Church Catholic” or “Church catholic” to avoid confusion between this concept and the Catholic Church.[citation needed]

    The Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans, and some Methodists believe that their churches are “Catholic” in the sense that they are in continuity with the original universal church founded by the Apostles. However, each church defines the scope of the “Catholic Church” differently. For instance, the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox churches each maintain that their own denomination is the only original and universal church, from which all other churches broke away.

    Almost all Christians who call themselves “Catholic” believe that bishops are considered the highest order of ministers within the Christian religion.[9] Along with unity, sanctity, and apostolicity, catholicity is considered one of Four Marks of the Church,[10] in line with the Nicene Creed of 381: “I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.”

  • latcheeco

    Cheers Drumlin,
    The trouble and strife is Episcopalian so she’s more of a George Washington catholic than a Henryviii catholic
    .

  • Mike the First

    Drumlins Rock

    I vaguely remember reading somewhere that Unitarians were also specifically excluded – would this be true? (even greater doctrinal differences there!)

  • Hopping The Border

    “If can can indulge and streach the GAA comparison further, if I was to play for my local GAA team next Sunday and score the winning goal in a final, as a well know Unionist I predict someone on the rival team would challenge my elligability to play based on my adherance to the Aims & Ethos”

    Whilst I can never see that occurring in reality (I doubt you can either) local public opinion alone would suppress such machinations though if anyone knows of an instance of it perhaps they would share – I do accept the point. The counter argument would of course be that by taking part you are furthering the aims & ethos which leads to the conclusion that the four sports of the GAA are actually political weapons! 😀 But that opens an entirely different can of worms.

    Just to finish with some humour, I know of a protestant chap from a club in northern ireland who plays senior football and when he scores an important point/goal celebrates by roaring “God is a Prod”!

  • Hopping The Border

    Actually, you never did answer my question on OO governance….

  • Zig70

    If themums caught the ball instead of hitting their head with it then maybe transubstantiation wouldn’t be such a problematic concept. There. Remind me never to do standup.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Mick, I’m not sure but I hope it is true!