Church Leaders Call Royal Black Behaviour ‘Un-Christian’: Is Parading a ‘Right’ for Christians?

With Unionist politicians lining up to criticise the Parades Commission and defend the Royal Black Institution parade in Belfast this past weekend, the Presbyterian Moderator (Roy Patton) and Anglican Archbishop of Armagh (Alan Harper) have called the conduct of those who took part ‘un-Christian.’

In an interview last night on UTV, Patton said:

I think any right thinking person would consider that what we viewed is not in keeping with Christian profession.

When asked directly if he thought that the conduct of the Black in Belfast was un-Christian, Patton replied:

I think that it raises questions for the Order. I recognise that in many different contexts, local contexts, the order behaves in a very Christian way and … have helped to foster good relationships.

But later he said:

… In terms of what actually happened … I think that was not in keeping with Christian teaching. I think we certainly would say that they have every right to march and to parade but the way that they treat their neighbours is actually very important as well. And both sides need to be sensitive as far as matters are concerned.

Given the loyal orders often insist that they are ‘Christian’ organisations (see Gerry Lynch’s earlier comments on this), it might be expected that such criticism by leading clergy would give them pause for thought.

But I think it’s doubtful that such comments will be welcomed or seriously considered by the loyal orders, which seem to have taken a position that their right to parade is sacrosanct, even if it compromises their Christian witness.

Patton seems to admit as much when he says that the orders ‘have every right to march and to parade.’

I think he could go farther, though, and ask the loyal institutions to consider if parading really should be a ‘right’ for Christians, especially when it jeopardises relationships with their ‘neighbours’? Should Christians exercise their ‘rights,’ if they can foresee that it will lead to rioting and violence? (Remember that in the gospels, Jesus defines neighbours as those with whom you just might disagree.)

Back in 1997, in an Open Letter to the Orange Order, Evangelical Contribution on Northern Ireland (now the Centre for Contemporary Christianity) asked a similar set of questions. Though 15 years old, their questions remain relevant (and depressingly contemporary):

  • Is it not possible that the best way to follow in the example of Christ would be to choose to give up their liberty and entrust themselves to the justice of God?
  • Is it not possible that doing the good that God requires might involve refusing to create or be involved in the kind of situations which common sense and experience tell us will almost certainly become occasions for evil?
  • Is it not possible that giving up their Christian liberty would be a more potent testimony to the grace of God and a more effective witness to the gospel than any other? Is it not possible that any ‘loss’ sustained by giving up the right to march along sensitive routes would be as nothing compared with the gain to the furtherance of the gospel?
  • Should Christians within the Institutions not consider voluntarily giving up that liberty for the sake of the consciences of others who – rightly or wrongly – take offence, both at the parades and, as a consequence, at the gospel?
  • Is it not possible that choosing options that reject confrontation might be the most effective way of challenging the bitterness, sectarianism and triumphalism that exists among some elements on both sides of this dispute?
  • Are not the Institutions under a clear biblical imperative to submit to the authorities by accepting the decisions of the police concerning parade routes?

These questions might be considered naive by those who think that it’s important that unionists take a stand on parades in general or, in light of the events on this year’s Twelfth, on parading by this particular location.

But for those who profess to be Christians within the loyal institutions, I think these questions should take them beyond the question of whether, in principle, the loyal orders should be granted permission to parade. These are ethical, even spiritual questions, which deserve further reflection.

  • The right to assemble and the right to protest are vital to a healthy democracy. But the existence of a right is not an obligation to exercise it.

    I have the legal right to come in to work tomorrow morning and sit beside one of my Muslim colleagues, put my feet up on her desk, insult the Prophet and offer her a ham sandwich.

    Jeremy Clarkson has the legal right to drive through Alabama with “Man Love Rules OK” written on his car.

    But why anyone would think that exercising those particular rights was a clever thing to do is beyond me. And telling people it isn’t clever just makes some of them more determined to do it.

  • I agree with Andrew.

    An organisation which pretends to be Christian should act like Christians.

    The Sermon on the Mount in particular highlights how we should be acting with absolutely outrageous grace. Not only refusing to take our rights (eye for eye, etc), but forgiveness, and going well beyond what we have to do (going the extra mile).

    If the “loyal” orders (how can they even use that term when they aren’t loyal to the Queen in any practical sense, ie obeying the laws she signs) want to call themselves Christians, it is time they stopped others from associating “Christians” with political marches and playing offensive tunes because that’s all they ever see of Christians outside church.

    Can we also avoid “whataboutery” here and get organisations to put their own houses in order before they criticise others?

  • Alias

    Jesus committed a few public order offences so he’s not much of a role model here. Also, the OO shouldn’t be confused with prayer meetings and suchlike since it is predominantly a cultural and political group. So, really, the “What would Jesus do?” angle isn’t likely to have any effect in moderating behaviour.

    I liked Gerry Lynch’s angle of considering how tiny minorities might feel and amending accordingly but that is essentially a quasi-Christian dynamic since, in practice, tiny minorities cannot be imbued with a greater power than their number determine if society is to be a workable arrangement.

  • lamhdearg2

    please point me to group of people who live a completely christian life.
    should christians drink to excess, many do including many r.c. priests. (and vicars)
    should christians want for more than their lot, most do,
    should christians wear mixed cloth, all of them at some stage?.

    dont get me started on what they should, or should not eat.

  • Drumlins Rock

    I am a Christian first and foremost. I believe in standing up for the Gospel and standing up for what is right for my friends, neighbours, family and myself, no matter ehat their back ground.

    I am an Orangeman, Blackman and a bandsman, I enjoy the meetings, fellowship and the parading, I do not set out to offend anyone and can’t see how any of my actions would be taken as offensive. I am deeply hurt and offended when they are interpreted in that way.

    Locally we have always respected places of worship, and in particular been sensative to the RC Chapels, not playing when any of them are in use, however it is impractical to play only hymn tunes other times as there are so many churches.

    I did not like the behaviour of the Young Conway band on the 12th as protrayed, however I will accept their explanation that it was not deliberate, a little extra effort should have been made to mend bridges locally afterwards, it didn’t help with politicians stirring thigs for their own ends.

    The resulting Parades commission ruling was completely over the top, unfair and draconian, punishing everyone for the unintentional actions of one band, and more importantly setting an unjustifiable precedence, which if accepted could easily be applied provence wide. It was therefore right, and therefore Christian, to oppose it.

    In the same circumstance I think I too would have played, although restricting it to hymn tunes played in a respectful manner, going beyond that is wrong and if you cant protest respectfully then I agree it is better to not at all.

    I do not get this whole “give it up for the sake of the gospel”, I don’t read that in either the old or new testaments, the circumstances were certainly different, but remember when ordered not to preach by the rulers, the apostles certainly did not back down, they preached all the louder.

    I hope a local accomadation can be reached before the Covenant parade, in particular with the parish priest and those who truely value St Patricks as their place of worship, as has been noted elsewhere many of those “offended” are rarely if ever within its doors.

    Finally this is direct to you Gladys, like everyone else why do you completely ignore the abuse and violence on the republican side of the protest, including the subsequent attack on the nearby Orange Hall, strange how playing music at an enpty building warrants thousands of comments but actual criminal damage garners barely a mention.

  • Dec

    ‘I have the legal right to come in to work tomorrow morning and sit beside one of my Muslim colleagues, put my feet up on her desk, insult the Prophet and offer her a ham sandwich. ‘

    I seriously doubt you enjoy that right in Northern Ireland.

    ‘I did not like the behaviour of the Young Conway band on the 12th as protrayed, however I will accept their explanation that it was not deliberate,’

    DR

    And in an instant all your credibilty disappears into the ether. Are you seriously claiming that the band played Penny Arcade and Willie Woodburn (that uses the tune of Noreen Bawn, Nelson) , both songs strongly associated with Rangers, and then randomly sequed into 60s Surf Rock

    ‘as has been noted elsewhere many of those “offended” are rarely if ever within its doors.’

    Can we apply that logic to all the Unionists complaining about the Church in Dungiven?

  • lamhdearg2

    “Can we apply that logic to all the Unionists complaining about the Church in Dungiven?”

    thats over on another thread, however,
    I and most people are not so much complaining about what happened in dungiven as complaining about the double standards of the parades com, the psni, the press, and the screaming skulls both on slugger and abroad, who see evil and sectariaism at every turn when it come to loyalists and loyal orders, but have to be proded with a stick even to notice similar action carried out by irish nats and republicans.

  • DR,

    My father and grandfather were Orangemen and Blackmen, and I was (briefly) in a band. My father retired from orange parades (but not the order) after the original Tunnel riots in the 80s – he said there was an element (on both sides) which just wanted to cause trouble, and he felt it was best not to get dragged in. He was not alone.

    The problem is not the ordinary decent Orangeman who, like my father and yourself, just wants to celebrate his traditions and get along with his neighbour. Neither is it really about the small number of people who do cause trouble – public order offences can and should be dealt with by the police in the normal manner. It is the balance of power between the two that has failed – the tail has started wagging the dog.

    The majority of ordinary decent Orangemen give the impression that they don’t take the actions of the small minority of troublemakers seriously. You say you accept the assurances of the YCV that their actions were not deliberate. Many other people do not, and think you at best a dupe and at worst a cheerleader. The Orders could stop the problems within a year or two by merely enforcing their own rules. Anyone found to have brought the order into disrepute, banned for life. Any band found to breach the guidelines removed from the parade and never asked back, nor any band containing any of its members. Full, immediate and genuine apologies from the organisers for any act of disrespect, no matter how minor, and genuine efforts to make sure it does not happen again. In short, leadership.

    But this does not happen, because the central organisations are weak and more worried about the bruised egos of their own members than the good of society in general. By failing to deal effectively with the rot within their own ranks, the loyal orders have made themselves complicit in the actions of every one of their hangers-on. Excuses are trotted out about internal structure, local autonomy or arms-length relationships with the bands and they come across to outsiders like passing the buck. The Orders should have started their own internal Parades Commission to enforce discipline years ago. The only reason a statutory body had to be set up was because year after year the Orders washed their hands of their own responsibilities.

    The loyal orders have a declining membership because increasing numbers of ordinary, decent Huns are unwilling to make themselves complicit in the actions of the few, unable to look their neighbour in the eye and make lame excuses for the indefensible.

    Remove the mote from thine own eye.

  • Toastedpuffin

    “The loyal orders have a declining membership because increasing numbers of ordinary, decent Huns are unwilling to make themselves complicit in the actions of the few”

    I doubt that’s anything to do with it. Society is changing, folks have less time for what were passtimes of past times. I love watching Orange parades, but I’ve never considered joining simply because attending the meetings and parading doesn’t appeal. People still go to watch parades, certainly in greater numbers than I remember from my childhood.

    I see a problem here with pretending that the Loyal Orders are primarily Christian. They’ve something of a cultural/religious/political identity crisis (who doesn’t?), and the reality is that lecturing them on what bad, bad Christians they are isn’t going to get far. I struggle to see why such condescension would.

  • Dec

    Ld

    The implication seems to be that unless you attend St Patrick’s once a week, you’ve no right to be upset at anti-catholic sectarian abuse being hurled at a church (and its’ clergy) where many present will have buried at least one loved one. However events at Dungiven are an assault on Unionists everywhere. And you’re complaining about hypocrisy?

  • Dec

    ‘Orders could stop the problems within a year or two by merely enforcing their own rules. Anyone found to have brought the order into disrepute, banned for life’

    Andrew

    The YCV band could have been asked to stay home for the weekend and we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Go figure. As it is, it’s clear to me that the Loyal Orders (and others) are attempting to turn the clock back to Ulster 1950. they’ll be attempting to re-animate Brookborough next.

  • Mister_Joe

    ..certainly in greater numbers than I remember from my childhood..

    Toastedpuffin, you can believe it or not, but in my childhood in Strabane, many children and some adults, Catholic, would watch the Orange Parade whenever it happened there. Who doesn’t enjoy a well tuned marching band? If there are still Orange parades in Strabane, I can’t imagine any Catholics attending, with glee anyway.

  • Toastedpuffin

    MJ

    I can easily believe it. I’ve watched 12th parades with Catholic friends myself. But certainly times have changed, and I don’t think repeatedly lecturing the Huns about how bad they are will help. Equally, Unionists need to be more honest (and more confident) about confronting bigotry, regardless of how Nationalists deal (or don’t deal) with their bigorty.

  • Alan N/Ards

    As a presbyterian I’m in total agreement with Roy Patton. I belong to a church that has never had an orange lodge through the doors and hopefully never will. There are members of the order who attend the church and they are decent Christian men and women. They most certainly wouldn’t condone the actions of the non Christians who paraded past the RC last week in such an insulting fashion. Saying that, I struggle with Christian’ men and women being in an order that acts in a way that goes against scripture. It goes against the grain.

    The difference for me with last weeks parade and the Dungiven parade is that the republicans marching past the Anglican church were not pretending to be Christians. They were commemorating someone who belonged to an organisation that has killed Christians. The OO and its membership claim to be followers of Jesus Christ but are making a mockery of Christianity and the believers who try to follow his teachings.

  • PeterBrown

    As a presbyterian I’m in total agreement with Roy Patton.

    As am I on both counts

    I belong to a church that has never had an orange lodge through the doors and hopefully never will

    It was this sort of totally unchristian statement which actually provoked me into joining the Order relatively recently in my 30s – there was a debate in our church about whether or not to host a district RBP service in which the members of the RBP were accused amongst other things of being involved in the occult. I too know many members who would have been horrifed about being called devil worshippers and could find no biblical basis for turning anyone away from any service. I thought if Jesus was around today would He turn them away and felt he was more likely to join them (without necessarily endorsing everything they did – much like tax collectors etc – capable of reform) so I joined. To say that you hope a particular group never comes to your church is less Christian than anything non Christian members of the OO or RBP have done in recent weeks Alan

  • Mister_Joe

    …of being involved in the occult..

    Yep, the Knights Templar could tell you all about that 😉

  • Toastedpuffin

    “I belong to a church that has never had an orange lodge through the doors and hopefully never will. ”

    I’m not in an Orange Lodge, but I won’t be through the doors of your church either. I don’t think I’d “belong”.

  • PeterBrown

    Now now TP I’m sure has a biblical basis for excluding some people form his church or if he is a prebyterian somethin in The Code……

  • sonofstrongbow

    Mister_Joe,

    That was a put up job by Philip IV of France. He was heavily in debt to the Templars who had financed his wars with England. When the rumours about the Templars started to circulate (initiated) by a Templar malcontent Philip saw his chance to seize their assets.

    Philip then lent on the Pope, Clement as I recall, to issues a Papal Bull calling for European wide arrests of the Templars. Under torture many confessed. Although these confessions were later retracted burnings at the stake of Templars had already began.

    Other European monarchs followed Philip’s lead helping themselves to the Templars money. As the Knights had long been ejected from the Middle East there was no where for them to run to and they were finished.

  • Mister_Joe

    I know all of that SOS. I was just attempting to point out that outrageous slurs have been used by “naughty” people before now. See my italics in response to Peter’s post.

  • I did not like the behaviour of the Young Conway band on the 12th as protrayed, however I will accept their explanation that it was not deliberate

    This is the sort of denial that makes it virtually impossible to deal with the Loyal Orders sensibly. The YCV played a sectarian tune outside a Chapel. They knew it was a sectarian tune and they knew it was a Chapel. St. Patrick’s is kind of hard to miss, and kind of hard to mistake for anything other than a Catholic Church; if you aren’t often on Donegall Street have a look at Google Street View. In the unlikely event that bandsmen were suffering from cognitive dissonance, the stewards on The Twelfth should have stepped in and, if necessary, taken appropriate action.

    a little extra effort should have been made to mend bridges locally afterwards

    This wasn’t an isolated incident. Behaviour like this has been happening outside St. Patrick’s for over a century and on that stretch of road more generally. I’ve been abused for having the temerity to walk down Clifton Street on the Twelfth. It’s beyond me why the Orders are so causual about the damage to their reputation in the wider community. If I were involved in those organisations, I’d want problems like this dealt with because I wouldn’t want to be tarred with that sort of brush.

    I hope a local accomadation can be reached before the Covenant parade, in particular with the parish priest and those who truely value St Patricks as their place of worship, as has been noted elsewhere many of those “offended” are rarely if ever within its doors.

    This situation would never have arisen had marchers behaved according to the principles they claim to espouse. No-one has any interest in a parades dispute around Belfast’s main Orange Hall. Nobody wins out of this, and the biggest losers would probably be the parishioners of St. Patrick’s. Why don’t the Orders: a. admit there have been problems, too often ignored; b. voluntarily agree that bands play only hymn tunes passing the Chapel and; c. clamp down on any nonsense from bands or spectators? Then everyone could get on with ignoring each other in peace, which is probably the best we can hope for.

    As for St. Patrick’s, this could have been an issue decades ago but for the patience and forebearance of its people and clergy in the face of repeated insults. (Being a bible-believing Christian you must know about all that turning the other cheek business.) Personally, I haven’t gone there regularly for 15 years since I converted to Anglicanism, but it remains:

    * The Church were I was baptised and confirmed.
    * The Church were I came to a real faith in Christ.
    * The Church I attend for most family Christenings, weddings and for most of my neighbours’ funerals.
    * The Church pretty much all of my neighbours belong to.
    * A place dedicated to Jesus Christ and the worship of almighty God.

    I wouldn’t like anyone doing what the YCV did outside the doors of my church, and I don’t see why anyone else should have to put up with it. I’m glad my Primate agrees with me and is prepared to say so publicly.

  • Altogether fed up I decided to examine “What makes a good Twelfth Parade?” I looked at the Orange Order website for guidance but finding none set about looking at this from first principles. I did so with some help, see below.

    It almost goes without saying that good planning and organisation is the key to any successful event and I will pass over the obvious, and say only that the Orange leadership must have between them decades of years of experience and an extensive corporate memory. Literally nothing should surprise them, they can plan for every eventuality.

    Good weather is the prayer of all outdoor event organisers as by and large it has such an impact on turnout and event enjoyment, indeed insurance can be taken out against adverse weather. But as we all know the Twelfth parades take place in rain, hail and shine and so good weather is not a prerequisite.

    A good turnout is also highly desirable not only among parade participants but also in the number of spectators, passers-by and tourists. Large crowds can have benefits and can make an event. You don’t have to be a psychologist or anthropologist to know that being in a buzzing crowd makes you buzz too; it truly is a physical experience and you feel connected.

    Almost certainly a good route and destination will add to the success of the event. If marching you want to be seen by as many as possible, if watching you want to have a good safe view, after all the bulk of the paraders and the spectators have family ties. Thus a “must have” is a good family day out both en route and at the field, and what do kids want? They want to beat their tin drums, face painting, burgers, bouncy castles and the rest and their parents want to know they’re safe and sound while they too enjoy themselves.

    It makes good sense to have basic Health & Safety features such as stewards, barriers, first aid posts, lost children points, access points for emergency services etc.

    Almost finally and I’m conjecturing here, the Orange want to put on a good show, want to show themselves in the best possible light, want to protect and manage their image. Their ideal will be manifested in well turned out walkers , bandsmen and women; sizeable well behaved crowds all along the route; musicality of the highest order in the well established bands and evidence of enthusiasm and keeping time elsewhere; and an improving religious overtone with plenty of biblical references in the banners, music, and speeches. All in all a good day out for one and all with nice pictures on the TV and in the local papers with a few shilling raised for Orange charities. I couldn’t agree more.

    I’m sure there’s lot of other factors to be taking into consideration but if first principles are to be followed then essentially the Orange want good weather, a good route, a good turnout, a good family day out and a good show.

    Before writing this I talked the above through with a couple of eight year girls who were visiting with their Mum and Dad. They are from England. We made a game of it and they made a very good job of identifying a lot of the success factors. Taking it further I asked what could go wrong and they mentioned the weather, not enough face painters, not being able to see because they were small, possibly getting lost and so forth. Again great input and they were a credit to their parents.

    Conversations continued but largely involved their parentsbut one of the young ones said “But why go where people don’t want you, why let other people spoil your day out”.

    Now given that these first principles are essentially utilitarian in nature, the greatest good for the greatest number, this eight year old’s comment is worth looking at more closely. The other good thing about first principles is that they are also KISS principles and whatever the complexity, urgency or importance of any given situation they act as a reference point. Bentham, the father of utilitarianism, even went so far as to say that “the greatest happiness for the greatest number is the measure of right and wrong.” I wouldn’t agree with that conclusion myself but the happiness principle has value in this context as we broadly know all of the interested parties; their ideology, aims and objectives and likely actions; the consequences of this or that decision; and most importantly we have numerous examples of parades with the consensus of all. There are no
    unknowns. We can so to speak predict the future.

    As we’ve seen a rainy day doesn’t deter the walkers, bandsmen or the spectators; the families can still have their day out; the Orange can still put on a good show; the speeches and prayers can still be made. But to return to the child’s question, why do the Orange promote one success factor, a perceived good route, above all others. A success factor which when denied for whatever reason, impacts disproportionately on all the rest and brings year upon year of negative publicity and of being on the back foot. Across all of the media outlets following Ardoyne , the story began more or less the same, “In Belfast, shots were fired at policemen following the annual Orange Order parade.”

    Yes the Orange may have had their three minutes of road time on the return route at Ardoyne, and flagrantly disobeyed the Parades Commission last Saturday , but reputationally at what cost.

    Finally in light of the evidence it appears the answer to the child’s question is simply this “We go where we want to go, what’s it got to do with you or them?” The damage to their own community and the other community are completely disregarded in the knowledge that they are not personally liable and in the knowledge that a self serving politician will blame someone else.

    The old line about not being able to organise a piss up in a brewery is so relevant, how is it not possible to organise a peaceful family day in the capital city when every damn thing is done to facilitate it. It seems fairly safe to conclude that if you let others determine your day out then you are a loser in every sense

  • tacapall

    The fact remains that the RBP and loyalists intentionally directed their anger about the parades commission determinations at St Patricks church and in doing so publically displayed their belief that the Catholic church and it followers are not entitled to respect. As each band passed St Patricks some stopped to play the sash and were cheered on by their supporters when the UVF linked band the YCV’s passed the church they also played music and were cheered on by supporters and watched by Unionist politicians. No one can deny that the Unionist/Loyalist outrage rather than being directed at the parades commission was directed only at the parishioners and the clergy of St Patricks church. Lets not forget the fact that there are two members of the Parades commission who are closely linked to the Orange Orders its not as if they didn’t have a voice in the determination process.

  • otto

    That’s a lovely picture Articles. You can imagine something like a two mile parade from the City Hall or St Anne’s using the the Sydenham and Queens Road to head past the Odyssey and out to the Titanic Quarter for a day’s outdoor sing along. A bit like a prod St Patrick’s Day or an old fashioned Methodist tent revival.

    It’s just a pity that the Loyal Orders don’t exist for religious purposes. They exist to impose conformity on the eighteenth century protestant non-conformist as much as (if not more than?) the catholic defender. They suppress free thinking and dangerous ideas of Amercian style secession. They expose Lundyism, denounce Ecumenicalism and proclaim No Surrender!

    Just look as the savaging poor Alan gets for his wishy-washy liberalism.

    The insistence on tribal as well as Empire loyalty is the loyal orders’ reason to be.

    You’re trying to wish them into being a cross between the Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band and the Salvation Army. Which would be lovely but, sadly, extremely unlikely.

  • PeterBrown

    Articles & Otto

    Articles is describing almost every Twelfth and Last Saturday outside Belfast – anyone who doubts this is welcome to join us in Ahoghill next year and no-one is more upset than me that Belfast which has the potential to deliver the best day for both parades is still lagging behind.

    Otto I wasn’t savaging Alan but merely pointing out that he is being as unchristian (interestingly he states he is a prebyterian not a Christian, the two are not necessarily synonymous) as he accuses the loyal orders of being which makes him as hypocritical as those members of the orders who do not behave in a Christian way

    Tacapall

    The anger of loyalists and bands was directed at parishioners, less so the RBP but it facilitated the others in doing so and has yet to condemn it making it equally guilty – if they had allowed the YCV band to participate and this time not play at all (preferably) or a genuine hymn then their protest would have had more validity (or some validity if like me you believe it had none at all in the form it took last Saturday!)

  • Jack2

    Peterbrown:
    “I too know many members who would have been horrifed about being called devil worshippers”

    How about being called paedophiles?
    Fergie on another thread said that Nationalists taking pics/video of parades were suspicious and he would smash their camera’s because there had been abuse within RC orders.

    Did any O.O members call him on it?

  • PeterBrown

    I think he also pointed out AOH objects to being videoed as it is intelligence gathering for loyalists – let’s be honest and state for the record that videoing is now universally used a method of provocation by objectors to all parades as much as it is for evidence of any potential wrong doing – I don’t think even FP thinks every Catholic is a paedophile and if so I’ll call him on it…

  • Toastedpuffin

    Gerry:

    A very reasonable post, however when you suggest that the loyal orders reputation is being damaged, I’d point out a few things that should be taken into consideration:

    Firstly, their membership is clearly hated with great enjoyment by a large section of the Nationalist community, generally in the absence of any knowledge of same whatsoever. Such malice has never been faced up to, let alone faced down, so is unlikely to change.

    Secondly, whilst everyone I’ve spoken to about this has agreed that the band’s behaviour was unacceptable, they also feel the response has been completely out of proportion. One could say that it was the fault of the loyal orders for not admitting they’d messed up. That leads me on to discussing the events in Dungiven, where Republicans have failed in a similar way, with negligible comment. Even the thread on Slugger about that event is dominated by talk of ST Patrick’s.

    Ordinary Protestants see this, and take the lesson from it that they aren’t as valuable as catholics, that their views are less legitimate, and that it hardly matters what they do or don’t do. It’s not an unreasonable position given the amout of time we have spent talking about bands playing tunes outside cf MLAs engaged in INLA/IRA “reenactments”. There’s a hand here that is in danger of being overplayed, which is a shame because there is an opportunity to progress here that’s being lost in the greivance.

  • Puffin,

    We should take all these things into consideration, of course. But as always in NI we’re blurring the line between explanations and justifications.

    Is nobody interested in taking the moral high ground? Regardless of the actions of others? I think this is the issue the OP was aiming at.

  • Toastedpuffin

    “Is nobody interested in taking the moral high ground?”

    I think people are, as always, interested in moving it to where they are standing…

    But what I was getting at is that we could be making the MHG look a bit more attractive – lecturing the Huns on what a bad lot they are (especially in the absence of anything like the same level of criticism directed elsewhere) is so obviously counter-productive it does make me wonder at the sense of it all.

  • andnowwhat

    Funny you say that Andrew? Just last night the residents of the area voted to not call for parades being rerouted but that they are respected.

    Mind you, put Paul Maskey In an odd position

  • andnowwhat

    No idea where the question mark came from

  • Jack2

    Paul Maskey was gifted a “job for the boys” and should be disregarded as such.
    I cringe everytime he opens his cake hole.

  • PeterBrown

    Yes hats off to the residents for doing giving the loyal orders a chance they dont in this particular instance deserve and thereby taking the moral high ground which was currrently vacant – Paul Maskey’s statement merely confirms unionist suspicions about SF’s real motives in situations like this but in this case the residents appear to be genuine residents not a front and have apparently rebuffed the hijacking attempt so double brownie points to them.

    Now lets see the Belfast loyal orders (its the OO turn with the covenant parade) match that by meeting them halfway. Although the YCV band may not be involved in it anyway if it was time for them to be dropped or it might even be better for them to march and behave….

  • DoppiaVu

    AG hit the nail on the head when he noted the Order’s reluctance to take effective disciplinary action against bands that step out of line. If the Order was to put it’s house in order (too many orders here) then there would be no need for outside bodies to impose supposedly “draconian” conditions upon them.

    I note this recent development regarding the residents. Well done them. I now fully expect the bands to make arses of themselves (again). All of which will be caught on camera and used to further discredit the bands (again). Plus ca change…

  • HeinzGuderian

    i have a very simple solution to all this.
    Why don’t all you ‘christians’ piss off to a far,far away island somewhere,(far,far away) and do your ‘christian’ murdering each other,to your hearts content ?
    meanwhile all us Atheists can have Saturday morning shopping,free from preaching.
    casino’s,where you can do a bet AND have a drink.
    No more church bells raping the beautiful silence of a Sunday morning.
    No more parades !! Just think of it……..oh the glory.
    What would Baby Jebus do ? Well first thing he would do is condemn you to eternal hell fires for having the audacity to not believe such nonsense.
    What a guy………;-)

  • Alan N/Ards

    Peter

    I became a Christian on the 26th April 1993. I worship in a Presbyterian Church with members of the Orange and Black 2/3 times per week. These brothers and sisters in Christ are valued members of my church. While I disagree with the orange and black, I would welcome any member of these organisations to the church. In fact, if Gerry Adams walked through the door I would make a point of welcoming him. I believe that no one should be excluded from attending a church service. A church should be a welcoming place regardless of your political or cultural beliefs.

    If the OO wants to attend the services at my church or indeed any church all they have to do is check the times of the services, which are printed on notice boards of the churches and come along. They will be made welcome. If they want to have a special service for the orange only, with banners flying and drums beating then have it at their own halls.

  • As yet nobody’s answered the questions in my post, maybe because the two questions answer each other.

    “But why go where people don’t want you, why let other people spoil your day out”.

    “How is it not possible to organise a peaceful family day in the capital city when every damn thing is done to facilitate it.”

  • Mister_Joe

    Articles,

    Don’t you get it? Someone alluded to it already. None of us Ulster folk really like being told what to do. The word for that escapes me at the moment (getting oul).

  • Joe,

    You might be thinking of “thran”…

  • PeterBrown

    If they want to have a special service for the orange only, with banners flying and drums beating then have it at their own halls.

    Alan every Orange service I have attended has been a scheduled Presbyterian (or -Father forgive me for I have sinned – CoI) service which we marched to, our colours were received and returned at the end after the National Anthem similar to a BB service and other than than that there was no chnage to the usual service. Can we still come?

  • Mister_Joe

    That’s it exactly, Andrew. Don’t know why I couldn’t get it out since it’s what we always called Da.

  • Mister Joe

    Someone close to me suggested the word that escaped you was “male”.

  • Mister_Joe

    Articles,

    I hope she still will eat the nice dinner you are going to make for her.

  • That leads me on to discussing the events in Dungiven, where Republicans have failed in a similar way, with negligible comment.

    As I seem to have been the person who put the Dungiven issue in the public domain, I don’t think you can accuse me of that.

    After the agreement in Crumlin, and model Twelfth parades in a number of majority Nationalist towns and villages West of the Bann, this should have been the year where the Orangefest boosters within the Orders declared that Loyalist marching culture was secure forever and was neither threatening nor insulting to Nationalists and Republicans. You screwed that one up all by yourselves.

    Fortunately there seems to a window of opportunity now to stop the house going up in flames before the Ulster Covenant 100th anniversary parade. I really hope you guys take it, because I really have no appetite for a major marching dispute on a street I walk down (sans regalia and bands) seven days a week.

  • Mister Joe

    That’ll be beans on toast then

  • dwatch

    James Boyce sentenced over Belfast parade disorder

    A man from Scotland, who ran through a protest that had been staged against a Loyal Orders parade in Belfast, has been given a suspended jail sentence.

    http://news.google.co.uk/news/url?sa=t&ct2=uk%2F0_1_g_1_0_t&gid=LCL&bvm=section&usg=AFQjCNGZSAAYbnhHl_Lya2lTjTyXoTJFCA&did=eeb0a50e07afadad&cid=26389756478105&ei=gAFBUIn6DoXX8gPHAg&rt=HOMEPAGE&vm=STANDARD&authuser=0&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.co.uk%2Fnews%2Fuk-northern-ireland-19442662

  • Alan N/Ards

    Peter

    Do you have any idea how many Christians are in the OO? Why does an order which claims to be christian accept into its membership people who are non believers?

    As I said before, I have no problem with members of the order both believers and non believers attending a service in my church. The problem I have with them attending wearing their regalia is that I and other Christian people find the behaviour of many of the non Christian members of the OO and bands offensive and totally unchristian. Also the lack of leadership shown by the order in removing these members who engage in a way that is anti the Christain gospel is scandalous.

    As a Christian my loyalty is to Christ Jesus and not to anyone or anything else.

  • PeterBrown

    I suspect the same proportion as in membership of PCI speaking as a fellow Presbyterian Alan – let those of us who are without sin cast the first stone as someone once said….

  • Mister_Joe

    Alan,

    I think the question leading the discussion is poorly worded. All of us have the right to association and assembly which sometimes involves walking.
    You have got to the nub of it. I doubt that there are many Orangemen who awake on the 12th or other days and say “I’m going to go out and annoy as many Catholics as I can today”. Unfortunately, there are a few. The real question is “Do the ones who disagree with the latter view feel comfortable with turning a blind eye to the few?”

    Before any of the usual suspects jump all over me, I feel the same about those few on the other side who wake up and say “I’m going to go out and abuse Orangemen walking today and, with a bit of luck, I might get away with throwing stones as well as words”.

  • PeterBrown

    Joe

    Too true – and many of those who do wish to cause offence are those accompnanying the Orangemen rather than Orangemen themselves. I couldn’t do so as none of my parade routes pass chapels and this is aproblem which is limited to less than 4% of parades in an even smaller number of venues….

  • Mister_Joe

    Peter,

    Understand totally. I don’t know if we ever will get to the situation where we have no ignorant parents indoctrinating their children to hate themmuns. That’s a big part of the reason I left. I was close to despair when one of my children came home from school espousing such hatred. I asked him who he loved. When he told me, I asked him if he knew that most of the people whom he loved belonged to that particular religious sect. He was in a bit of a stupor for the rest of the day.

  • Peter,
    As I have blogged on my own site, why exactly is there absolutely no leadership being shown on this except by the COI and Presbyterian Churches? I ask the question with genuine astonishment

  • Mister_Joe

    Bangordub,

    Are some of them believing followers of Christ and are others not really?

  • Joe,
    If I understand you correctly, my understanding was that these organisations trade on the understanding that they are Christian and law abiding. yeah, right. And if they have followers or people who support their parades or even participate in them that those values should be upheld.
    Fair enough?

  • Comrade Stalin

    I am not sure what Paul Maskey is supposed to have said, but on this occasion I do not believe that SF have a “true agenda” here other than exposing the offensive and disrespectful behaviour of Orange Order and RBP bands with the expectation that it – the behaviour rather than the marches – should be stopped.

    I don’t know if anyone sympathetic to the marchers has been listening – to be honest it’s pretty obvious that they have not – but I haven’t heard anyone from SF appearing in the media demanding a rerouting of the march like they would have done in the past.

    SF have too much invested in the political process and they know if they were to aggressively agitate over this matter it would have the potential to bring the whole house down. And even if SF’s agenda was to harm the unionists or the Orange Order – a rather daft notion given that there has never been any attempt to protest or campaign against marches passing this point until the 12th just past – frankly they need do nothing – the marchers and politicians are doing a fine job of damaging themselves.

  • Mister_Joe

    Bangordub,

    Maybe I’m thick but I don’t really understand your question.
    What I think is, that if the marching orders truly believe that they are demonstrating their Christian beliefs, they should condemn and shun those followers who do the opposite.
    Politicians are a different breed; they will always pander to the LCD in the hope of getting reelected.

  • Joe,
    Apologies if I wasn’t clear, 100% agree with you.
    I am disgusted by the politicians though.

  • kaiser

    I am not sure what Paul Maskey is supposed to have said, but on this occasion I do not believe that SF have a “true agenda” here other than exposing the offensive and disrespectful behaviour of Orange Order and RBP bands with the expectation that it – the behaviour rather than the marches – should be stopped.

    Also burst’s the myth that SF control these concerned resident groups, maybe they are just locals pissed off with OO RBP bigots coat trailing showing no respect for other religons

  • Kaiser,
    Interesting that SF are out of Kilter with the residents. Not a bad thing imo.

  • Mister_Joe

    As I noted earlier, politicians, all politicians, will pander to the lowest common denominator since every vote counts for them. Most people are decent. See my question for Mick’s upcoming event : “Why do so many people not bother to vote?”

  • Joe,
    I am sorry. I disagree completely with that. Most or many Politicians may appeal to the LCD. The best ones don’t. The good ones lead. The Shinners, and again I am not one, LED. They took a line and led people, in many cases against instinct, inclination and bitter experience.
    If a politician does not do this, not alone does nothing change but it actually regresses.
    Name me your political heroes and I guarantee you they did just that.

  • Mister_Joe

    Fair enough, Bangordub, I did mean “most politicians, of all stripes”.
    One of my big heroes is Winston Churchill. He spent many years being shunned but, I firmly believe, if not for him, the appeasers would have surrendered to the fascists.

  • Joe,
    I could have a good off topic chat with you about Churchill 🙂
    That’s for another day. I am just incredulous about the Nigels and Nelsons of the world. I cannot get my head around their lack of political ability. If they think it’s working for them, they should look at the voting figures.
    My respect for the two Church leaders I mentioned has increased hugely. My point is that they have demonstrated Leadership.

  • PeterBrown

    Bangordub – I can’t answer for the politicians but I’m hoping the OO & RBP (as usual) need to have a meeting to do anything- they are run by Committees not individuals who ahve no authority to act until the relevant meeting is held and the correct procedures under the rules followed….

    CS Maskey’s statement is here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-19413665 and in the light of this you may need to rewrite your post! The leopard hasn’t changed its spots

    Kaiser as a unionist and member of OO and RBP I would contrast the reaction of a genuine long established community group which was observing the parade on the Twelfth not protesting and still isn’t calling for rerouting with the other groups which were SF inspired. Maskey has actually reinfoced the impression that this issue was their creation not a community reaction….

  • Mister_Joe

    For Maskey to call for “law” and “respect” beggars belief. Still, the “Peace Process” trumps all, I guess.

  • PeterBrown

    Not as ironic as the DCAL minister condemning disgraceful behaviour outside a chapel Joe – apparently there is no NI history prior to 1998….

  • kaiser

    Bangodub
    Interesting that SF are out of Kilter with the residents. Not a bad thing

    It is good SF have been shown to not control the group, surely this can give OO RBP a bit of wriggle room to come to a shared agreement without loosing face. Will OO RBP take the smart move? Up to now they have been found wanting and without leadership.

  • Mister_Joe

    Indeed, Peter. Hypocrisy knows no bounds.

  • Peter,
    I don’t wish to put you in a difficult position if you are a member but do you not think that the excuse of everything needing to go to a meeting doesn’t exactly wash when you have the head of the RBP theatrically tearing up a legally valid document. Publicly. Followed by, well, you know.
    It’s organisational suicide.
    When that is combined with a letter to the papers by the Politico’s on the same day along with their very obvious compliance, not to mention attendance, with that lawbreaking on the ground. (Pause for breath) Is the silence of the Loyal Orders OK in your honest opinion?

  • PeterBrown

    Indeed – like the UUP its what comes of having a set of rules that are no longer fit for purpose but as we discussed previously as with the Ronan Kerr funeral debacle the right decisions will (probably) be reached eventually, months too late when the spotlight of publicity has long burned out.

    Not the head of the RBP btw only the Belfast head and as discussed with a fellow local loyal order member tonight (he’ll probably read this) Belfast is a tail which is currently wagging the dog and if it doesn’t stop wagging it will need to be docked!

  • Mister_Joe

    Bangordub,

    You need to get a sense of perspective. The bands last weekend committed but a very minor infringement of the law, what Alias correctly describes as civil disobedience. Other things? well…..

  • kaiser

    Kaiser as a unionist and member of OO and RBP I would contrast the reaction of a genuine long established community group which was observing the parade on the Twelfth not protesting and still isn’t calling for rerouting with the other groups which were SF inspired. Maskey has actually reinfoced the impression that this issue was their creation not a community reaction….

    PB I may not agree with the OO or RBP, however you now have a chance to relieve a flashpoint area, if you are Christians you must take the lead, the community group has given OO and RBP a great opening to set up an agreement that could be the template to resolve a lot of other areas, History of OO with community groups is not good but this is a chance to cut out the PC, wil you take it?

  • Peter,
    Sorry but was that an answer to my question?
    “Is the silence of the Loyal Orders OK in your honest opinion?”

  • Joe,
    A minor infringement???????
    Now come on, It was a direct challenge to the authority of the state to which they allege allegience!

  • Mister_Joe

    Ok Bangordub, You’ve changed my mind. Each and every drum player or flute player should be hanged and quartered.

  • Joe,
    Now now, sarcasm ill befits you.
    It is, as I”m sure you know, the last refuge of the US Republicans (Courtesy of last night)

  • Mister_Joe

    I did leave out the “drawn” bit since I’m sort of a moderate.

  • Read “Redemption Falls” by Joe O’Connor.
    Interesting on the hung drawn and quarter stuff and what may ensue 🙂

  • PeterBrown

    Bangordub – who would comment with authority, no-one. It’s just not what they do – they’ll need a meeting however unsatisfactory in the modern world that may be….

  • Peter,
    Thanks for your honest answer.
    I know you don’t have the answers but I have 2 not unreasonable questions,
    1. When is the meeting?
    2. What is the outcome?
    That’s all Peter. I think that’s all most reasonable people would ask.
    If the orders cannot deal with that, well, I give up.

  • PeterBrown

    There are 2 meeting one OO and one RBP – I’ll know in a couple of weeks and my local meetings….

  • It would be very helpful, not least to the OO and RBP, if we all knew the outcome

  • Mister_Joe

    Bangordub,

    It’s really not fair to “demand” that Peter be the reporter. If anything significant, one way or the other, comes out of any meetings, I’m sure the MSM will tell us.

  • Joe,
    Fair comment. My point all the way is that they (OO and RBP) are not saying a thing via the msm or anyone else. I certainly do not want to compromise Peter.

  • Mister_Joe

    Bangordub,

    The OO is a wide ranging organization with people from all walks of life and differing societal and political views. Any statement will at best be a bunch of waffle. Forget the words, watch the actions; they are what will matter.

  • PeterBrown

    Bangordub

    The one lesson the Orders need to learn from the Kerr fiasco is no-one is actually interested in the outcome if it happens weeks later or perhaps at all – prevention is better than cure

  • tacapall

    “The OO is a wide ranging organization with people from all walks of life and differing societal and political views.”

    I think Raymond McCord called this one right when giving his two pence worth to the local hacks, he was at the parade and saw what happened outside St Patricks, in his opinion, using Peters analogy, the tail that is wagging the dog is the UVF. It was they who orchestrated the breaking of the law and it was they who provided the muscle behind the bands to ensure safe passage. The question that needs to be asked is what is the relationship between the Orange Order, the RBP, and Unionist politicians with loyalist paramilitaries, especially those government ministers present who in tandem with the UVF encouraged the breaking of the law and stood back while their protest at the parades commission determinations was hijacked by a still heavily armed terrorist group who then directed their hatred at St Patricks church and its parishioners.

  • FuturePhysicist

    I would call it anti-Orange, King Billy’s own words …

    “Liberties and customs, and, above all, the Religion and Worship of God, that is established among them; and to take such an effectual care, that the inhabitants of the said state or kingdom may neither be deprived of their Religion, nor of their Civil Rights.”

    Disgracing the Orange sash they are.

  • Toastedpuffin

    “It was a direct challenge to the authority of the state to which they allege allegience!”

    Yeah, a bit of hysterical over-reaction will help. They played tunes on flutes. They shouldn’t have at that point, it was silly and petty, but not nearly so much as the reaction. We’ve now had literally 100s of posts about this tune playing – I wonder if I checked back to the last thread on an arson attack on an Orange Hall would there be so much comment??? The intrinsic sectarianism that always, ALWAYS infects this issue is a real problem in dealing with it – I wonder what’ll be done about that?

    BTW, well done Peter Brown for dealing with the nonsense he’s faced on this thread with so much – dare I say it – Chrisrianity. I’d not be so even-tempered – so it’s maybe best I’m not directly in the firing line!

  • Mister_Joe

    I’ll second that, Toastedpuffin. Peter’s comments are thoughtful and refreshing.

  • andnowwhat

    So, Boyce got a suspended sentence and had the dusturbance of the peace charge withdrawn? That’ll show ’em

  • kaiser

    Why have I been given a yellow card

  • Mister_Joe

    kaiser,

    You should have an email from WordPress noting the “offensive” comment.

  • kaiser

    Mr J I have received no e-mail, and can think of no offensive comment I have posted

  • kaiser

    Just checked my e-mails, pretty lame excuse for a yellow card IMO

  • Mister_Joe

    There is an appeal process detailed in the “Moderation Policy” at the bottom of the page. But since Mick is the “decider” and he awarded the Yellow, you’ll have to be very persuasive.
    It’ll go away tomorrow Don’t say anything on the blog which might result in worse.