The outward march on the Twelfth of July leads each Orange lodge to ‘the field’. As well as picnics, burger vans, bouncy castles and stalls, there is a service of worship and speeches. A set of resolutions compiled centrally by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland are read out at each field.
The resolutions give an insight into what’s occupying the minds of the Grand Lodge.
This year the first two resolutions cover The Faith and Loyalty, acknowledging religious freedom and reaffirming support for the Queen and her health. The third – The State – is where the issues of the day tend to be raised.
As proud citizens of the United Kingdom we support the display of the Union Flag on public buildings across the United Kingdom.
We have been dismayed at attempts to undermine the Union and to dilute unionist identity at every opportunity. We look forward to a shared future where the Union Flag will be respected by all and our culture will be respected and celebrated, free from prejudice, hatred and intolerance.
We reflect on the centenary year of the formation of Lord Carson’s Ulster Volunteers, a great many of whom were members of the Orange Institution, and who were determined to defend for themselves and their children their cherished position of equal citizenship in the United Kingdom. We give thanks to God that at a time of crisis, men and women were prepared to take a stand for civil and religious liberty.
We reflect on the many attempts being made to undermine the traditional values of our society. As an Institution we affirm the firm and unwavering Biblical and Christian understanding of marriage as between one man and one woman, seek to uphold it and deplore all efforts to undermine it.
No allusions to the Parades Commission this year. No scolding politicians or political institutions.
A “shared future” is mentioned. Yet there is no sense of generosity or reciprocity in the resolutions. It’s all about me, inward facing rather than for the good of all of Northern Ireland.
There’s a desire for “the Union Flag will be respected by all” but no words to suggest that as “we look forward to a shared future” that might involve respecting other flags too.
Similarly the resolution yearns that “our culture will be respected and celebrated, free from prejudice, hatred and intolerance” but stops short of taking a step in the direction of inclusion to say this should be true for other cultures as well as “our culture”.
With only a few extra words, the Grand Orange Lodge could show leadership. Instead, their resolutions make the Orange sound like victims rather than participants in a process with the power to effect change for the good of everyone and demonstrate the Christian charity at the heart of their faith.
Another Twelfth of July, another opportunity missed.
Alan Meban. Tweets as @alaninbelfast. Blogs about cinema and theatre over at Alan in Belfast. A freelancer who writes about, reports from, live-tweets and live-streams civic, academic and political events and conferences. He delivers social media training/coaching; produces podcasts and radio programmes; is a FactCheckNI director; a member of Ofcom’s Advisory Committee for Northern Ireland; and a member of the Corrymeela Community.