Attack on Orange Hall in Convoy, Co. Donegal

Over the last decade or so there has been a modest revival in the Orange Order and associated bands in parts of the RoI. This has been seen in parts of Donegal as well as the other border counties. Many events in Fermanagh will now see small but growing bands from the RoI. This modest revival is purely religious and cultural: whatever one may think of the political positions of the Orange Order, these are not manifested in the RoI. There has been no attempt to organise Protestants politically by recreating the Donegal Progressive Party or similar.

The centre piece of Orange culture in the RoI is of course the Rossnowlagh parade. This is frequently presented as a beacon of tolerance on both sides though it might be noted that most country parades and twelfth celebrations are equally peaceful and that the Orange Order parade at Rossknowlagh, partly as they are not allowed to parade in towns in the RoI. Furthermore tricolours are occassionally flown near the Rossnowlagh procession route with no apparent attempt by the Gardai to remove them.

Much more sinister attacks on this revival of Orange culture have, however, occurred more recently with attacks on the Orange Halls at Convoy and the recently reopened hall in Newtowncunningham. In the case of Convoy the local Presbyterian church was also attacked.

It is only fair to note that whatever Sinn Fein’s history on the subject of attacks on Orange culture Martin McGuinness has condemned this latest attack.

The problem in part is that whatever the Sinn Fein leadership may now say (quite possibly from genuine motives) so complete has been their demonisation of Orange culture over the years (and ongoing in certain places) along with their previous refusals to condemn violence against both Orange culture and Orange Order members, that hotheads and idiots will inevitably feel empowered to take part in this sort of sectarian violence.

Here on slugger (admittedly usually in the comments section) Orange culture is demonised with recent comments (which went uncensured) likening the Orange Order to the Klu Klux Klan and calling for the Order’s proscription. It is maybe time to prevent such bigoted sectarian hate speech even on slugger as it can help, albeit no doubt in a small way, to encourage the mentality which seeks to legitimise criminal damage as a form of hate crime against a vulnerable minority.