Brian Kennaway: “[The Grand Master’s speech] achieved one purpose only: it made Gerry Adams sound good”

brian kennawayBrian Kennaway isn’t someone from whom the Orange Order will appreciate advice. On his blog he’s issued a response to Grand Master Edward Stephenson’s statement at Saturday’s Twaddell Avenue rally:

… encourage Orange brethren and our supporters to demonstrate their displeasure at the current situation by holding peaceful and legal protests across Northern Ireland, at times and locations of their choosing, over the coming weeks. (Grand Master Edward Stephenson)

The former member of the Parades Commission asks:

Have the Grand Master and the senior officers of the Institution learned nothing but to repeat the mistakes of the past? What has “holding peaceful and legal protests” ever achieved? What guarantee can be given that they will be both ‘peaceful’ and ‘legal’?

He  argues that the 2013 Twelfth parade on the Woodvale Road “was neither ‘peaceful’ nor ‘legal’ given that it led to violence against the police and “many Orangemen before the courts”.

Brian Kennaway also queries the Grand Master’s allegation members of the Orange Order “have been denied their civil and religious liberties since 1998”.

I, Like many, would like to know precisely what ‘civil and religious liberty’ has been denied. The restriction of a public procession on a particular stretch of a road is NOT a denial of civil and religious liberty.

The Orange historian reaches into his archives and notes:

The refusal to accept any restriction on Orange Order marches is not sustainable, if in the wake of that resolution there is certain to be violent confrontation, injuries, destruction of property and maybe deaths. (Canon SE Long, Grand Lodge’s Senior Grand Chaplain)

The Grand Master Edward Stephenson posed the question …

Why can three lodges not complete their Twelfth parade, in a safe and dignified manner, up the main arterial route of the Crumlin Road to Ligoniel Orange hall?”

… and Brian Kennaway’s blog post enumerates a number of problems with the question:

There are a number of answers to that question.

In the first place a ‘dignified manner’ was not evidenced on the Twelfth 2013.

Secondly had the ‘Road Map’ laid out by the Parades Commission been followed in 2013 there would probably have been a return parade in 2014.

Thirdly Ligoniel Orange Hall does not exist – I am surprised that the Grand Master and senior officers do not realise that!

He concludes with a jibe that will not make his message any more palatable to the loyal orders: [Ed – that bridge was burnt years ago!]

Coming as it did on the same day Gerry Adams made his speech to the Ard Fheis it achieved one purpose only – It made Gerry Adams sound good!

– – –

A balance of competing rights is at the heart of the stand-off at Twaddell Avenue.

For over 600 days, mediation, the Parades Commission and political dialogue has not succeeded. The Londonderry Bands Forum spoke at a fringe event at Sinn Féin’s Ard Fheis and could have heard to the party’s chair Declan Kearney in the main hall say:

Moulds need broken, and initiatives taken.

Unambiguous unity of purpose between republicans and unionists, and significant shared gestures are more important than ever.

Meanwhile, Orange rhetoric on Saturday was of demonstrating displeasure through protests.

The Stormont House Agreement requires OFMDFM to work with the Office of Legislative Counsel to bring forward proposals on parading to the Executive by June 2015. Independent adjudication remains the “last resort”. Will that adjudication be judicial or at least judge-led?

The ultimate resolution to Twaddell is a court decision. While a ruling would upset at least one party, it would bring clarity where dialogue has failed to bring agreement. But the Orange Order might not like the answer … though neither might residents.

In the medium-long term, the DUP need Twaddell to resolve in order to prevent Orange votes in the area being cast for the PUP and TUV. If the smaller unionist parties continue not to stand in North Belfast at Westminster elections, the DUP are relatively safe. But a campaign of no votes would hurt Nigel Dodds’ majority.

Sinn Féin too need the tension around Twaddell to be released as the party’s lack of any levers to bring about a resolution weakens their political offer and plays into the hands of smaller republican parties and groups.

Protests can be powerful. Yet if the Orange Order calls for protests, how would they feel about residents groups demonstrating their displeasure through peaceful and legal protests. Would that help?

Gestures are important. Generous gestures could bring about transformation and healing. At this stage, protests are only likely to dig deeper trenches in North Belfast and make dialogue and marching – and politics – more difficult.

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  • Tacapall

    So you say Joe history doesn’t agree but are you going to expand on who all benefited civil and religious liberty from the battle the Orange order latched on to in order to promote their nonsense, just like the Somme, was the Orange order there too or did they play the same game and latch on to the bravery of others and use it to do the same as they did with Boyne.

    Are you going to answer any hard questions I posed to you or are you going to continue to dance around on a pinhead ?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “He does seem to have an awful lot of issues with it from rules to the way it behaves.”

    Well, a lot of people do Joe, yourself included. It’s not a crime to criticise the order, but if one does criticise the order then one can certainly be made to feel like a criminal.

    “however the way he delivers his message is wrong”. No doubt, but broaching the topic is difficult.
    Any idea how future criticisms could be presented?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    What a lot of work he’s undertaken to find out that much. How very exciting for you all. My own Christian name has come down from links with the Savages of the Ards, so we may be distantly related.

    I’m grateful that my family ( not the O’Neill side) has just a few in every generation with our very distinctive name and that they have kept careful records from before the seventeenth century, and their coming over as a cadet branch of the Lairds of a small landholding just under the Lammermuir hills. F.J. Bigger had a hand in the preparation of the current family tree pre-WWI and I’d feel that few of his suggestions are pure romance, but the stolid treck backwards through a Volunteer/United man who was an Anglican signatory amongst the eleven for the Society for Promoting Knowledge (Linen Hall Library), through his father, a Dublin publisher, then back through a line of Dundalk wine shippers with a mix of younger son clergy and army, all steadily loosing land to debt (as happens always in Ireland) is well enough attested by the old family papers now in my files (no one else cared!) for me to trust the geneology I use as much as any sane person would. I’ve compared the material with other geneologies for the name in Scotland and England and we fit with them pretty tightly, along with the papers of the local gentry here we’ve been married into. I get the oddest people (mostly old style gentry Unionists) calling me “cousin” when we meet socially. Ho humm…..

    How wonderful that your retired father has found a source that offers so much historical interest for you. You really must post where his seemingly unique source material is to be found. Certainly not PRONI, the NLI or the Linen Hall Libarary in my experience. Most geneological material such collections hold runs out sometime in the nineteenth century as general records simply do not exist before the Freeholder records, except in rather rare church papers.

    Unfortunately much was destroyed in the burning of the Four Courts when many archives collected by Gilbert were lost, although I’m hearing stories of new material in teh form of old parish records that were simply charred and that have started to come to light recently from what was saved.

    This paucity of records is often a great frustration for families who did not acquire some public status before the mid eighteenth century or who have not kept some records of their own from an early date but you can be certain that someone with the “roots” of your DNA was about in previous centuries, otherwise I’d imagine you would not be posting. Perhaps you could try a psychic to fill in some detail?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Indeed they did, Tacapall. You must have come across the old saw “Treason never prospers, whats the reason? For if it prospers, it’s no longer treason.” This seemingly applies to breaking the rules of war also.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    I think going straight to the media is the wrong option, he could be a force for change from within but in a much more postive way.

  • eireanne

    why do you think that suggesting the Loyal Orders interact normally with other members of the NI community is “a poorly construed piece of claptrap that is neither amusing nor informative”?

    Your refusal to even consider these suggestions (or propose baby steps the Loyal orders might be willing to consider) adds to the evidence of intransigeance on their part.
    It strengthens the arguments that voluntary disbandment is in the best interests of everyone in NI

  • Tacapall

    Indeed Seaan history is truly written by the victors but what is also true to the common man is “Virtus sola nobilitas” our last seconds on this earth can be the shortest or longest depending on how we live our lives. I stick to what I believe. ” In my last moments my last act of breathing let me converse with myself delude myself into believing that I will cheat fate and steal another moment of life”

  • Guest

    You’ve nailed the challenge with genealogical research alright! I’ve been hearing exactly the same gripes for nigh on 15 years now 🙂

    The Savage branch is out of Ballygalget, tracing back to Hugh Savage in the 15th century that built Rocksavage about halfway between Portafery & Portavogie. Fortunately there’s an online version of a Savage history by “Savage Armstrong” helped a lot. All the other work was painstaking work in the records office in Dublin.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    That is one of the best ideas I’ve heard on here.
    That one is going onto the black board for future reference.
    Pagan-tourism: now there’s a niche waiting to be exploited!

  • LordSummerisle

    Ahhh The Divinity Lessons.

  • Cue Bono

    Care to tell me what I have said that is wrong? The OO even bussed its members up to the roundabout in order to meet the PC’s moronic timings. They abided by what they had been asked to do. Soething which obviously caught the PC out, but they banned the anyway.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    There would be an enormious market in the States for Pagan Tourism. I’vealready suggested a stall at Pantheacon for the Larne Council (alas, almost now gone!) to “sell” the Islandmagee Witches rather than (forgive me for this!) “Demonising” them! A well written up and internationally well known pagan past is one of the few things we have that could be “sold” to tourists as something uniquely to do with here!

    And with an interesting new twist to the bonfire tradition………

  • SeaanUiNeill

    And, Tacapall, one of the great acts of the cheating of death has been the survival of our ancient culture and language over the intense effacement of long colonial experience. Great work is being done today in honestly examining Irish language sources and the archaeological record of the aerly modern period to open up our knowledge of what occured in some detail. have you come across “The Age of Atrocity”, just after it came out I found taht I was making so many notes at the old Queens pre-McClay library, taht I realised I simply had to buy the book. It’s in paperback and a lot cheaper now:

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Joe, You’ll have to await the publication of my research on 1688/9 for an accurate detailed picture of the Prince of Orange’s* actions and concerns in that period. Regarding Republican attitudes, the viceroy of Ireland who preceeded Tyrconnell, Clarendon, describes William entering Salisbury accompanied by (as I remember, without notes) “eleven notorious Republicans”. I’ve tended to find that the sustainable criticisms of William have not so much come from Republican circles, as from legitamist circles who have far more serious complaints than his sexual preference to bring up in debate!

    And although the campaign of the Jacobite army in 1689 was so well disciplined that the Whig propagandist Oldmixon could only find two or three atrocity instances to play on, any careful reading of even Storey’s pro-Williamite “Impartial History” clearly shows that in the final years of the war numerious Williamite atrocities took place against Raparee activity. This was a continuation of the restoration sport of “Tory Hunting”.

    And his regimes exploitation of Ireland did not stop at robbing the supporters of the legitimate king! In addition to the cynical violations of the Limerick Treaty, there were even proposals to entirely dispossess anyone from the planter community who had fled Ireland in 1688/9 in order to provide even more confiscated land for the bloated greed of those numerious supporters William had to continually buy off to ensure their grudging support!!! There is much about this period that eighteenth and nineteenth century propaganda histories valorising the “Glorious Revolution” have sentimentalised out of all recognition.

    * As a neo-Jacobite, you’d hardly expect me to recognise the pseudo-royal appointment of the prince by the English parliament, entirely illegal, as it was carried out without proper Royal assent by his uncle the true King.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Which organisations you would disband was actually my question to you! Assuming we’re being even-handed here. And what are the new rules to be that distinguish organisations that are allowed and those that aren’t? I do think it’s pretty hard to draw them up without unintentionally banning perfectly harmless organisations.

    In a democracy, you just have to live with a lot of voices you don’t agree with, surely; and the law should only step to ban organisations on a ‘de minimis’ basis.

  • carl marks

    Right so anyone who draws a wage is suspect (do the OO have any paid employee , can we assume they are only in it for the money) and he wrote a book (read it joe) and made a few job, doubt it made as much as the davinci code.
    Really Joe,as a christain should you be making comments about a person,s character on such a weak basis.
    If you disagree with argue against what he said not his character.
    I notice that their is a tendency of some unionists to accuse those they disaprove of only doing it for the money! It is man playing Joe pure and simple..

  • Joe_Hoggs

    A lot of religious figures on both sides are very much in it for the money, not all but certainly more than a few and it’s very concerning to see yet another “Man of God” remaining a member, yet selling books on the institution and joining the parade’s commission (an organisation he should not have been allowed of given his views).
    Yes the gentleman in question does have some important views, however it how he goes about expressing these that is more concerning and surely if he is presenting himself as whiter than white he should be able to cope with relevant scrutiny!!

  • carl marks

    Of course you missed out the playing of sectarian songs by the band, the attempts to force campfolllowers past the police cordons and the loyalist violence at twaddle ( illegal to this day).
    And let’s not forget the loyalist terrorists commemorated. By the band.

  • eireanne

    The point was not the outlawing or banning of any organisation. I personally never thought of, or suggested, drawing up any ” new rules to be that distinguish organisations that are allowed and those that aren’t”
    This came from you so please feel free to develop this line of thought as you wish.

    The suggestion was that the Loyal Orders should voluntarily disband. The key word is “voluntarily”
    1)for the greater good of NI – (which they profess to uphold).

    2) And to solve a problem that is unique to NI society, which they created and persist in causing.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Yes but you’ve still made a judgment on their moral right to exist, so I’m asking, how do you decide on that – what are the criteria? And which other organisations would you ask to disband, by the same token?

  • Tacapall

    No I haven’t came across that book but I will in the not too distant future thanks for the pointer. You obviously had a good education Seaan a mistake I regret although I wasn’t given much choices other than educating myself, I know many who after going through years of primary and secondary school couldn’t read nor write, who’s fault was that the teachers or the pupil sometimes you have to search for the truth as its almost always hidden among the lies and propaganda.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    you also asked, and I didn’t answer, “Why do you not view it as the solution to a problem they have created which does not exist elsewhere in the UK, EU or indeed in the world?”

    Well, I don’t agree that does not exists elsewhere in the EU or in the world. I think there are parallels closest to home the AOH, but in the US you have a plethora of organisations particular to ethnic groups that want to celebrate and defend their cultural heritage (you’ll see some of these parading in a few days’ time); and really in many countries of the world. They are not so unique really, even if the form it takes here is particular to here.

    But your bigger point is that you see the loyal orders as a “problem they have created” which their voluntary disbandment would solve. On that basis, we should be calling for the disbandment of any organisation that expresses a cultural difference or set of views that is not accepted by others, even where they preach peace and co-existence.

    That’s not desirable for several reasons:

    – in the liberal multi-cultural view of things I would adhere to, you accept that other people exist who have different values to yourself and whom you disagree with fundamentally. For me, the Conservative Party is something I would happy to see melt away, or UKIP, but asking them to disband isn’t the way to diminish their influence – instead I’ll try and persuade people who support them not to do so. But in the meantime, I have to co-exist politely with them and realise people do join sometimes for good reasons – they are not all ogres;
    – it’s stretching things quite a lot to say the loyal orders are any more of a problem than some of the people opposed to the loyal orders. I’m reading Alastair Campbell’s “Irish Diaries” at the moment and he, no friend to unionists or the OO, found Breandán MacCionnaith one of the most irritating and unreasonable men he’s ever dealt with. And obviously anyone voting SF or supporting SF in any way has no leg to stand on in criticising non-violent organisations on the Protestant side, given the Republican Movement’s views on what is acceptable as a form of political or social protest
    – overall, the existence of the loyal orders is as much a symptom as a cause of division, surely. They may represent at times an unprogressive part of Protestant culture, but both sides have organisations exclusive to them that are pretty unwilling to change to please “the other side”. Perhaps they should all disband, but would you happily lose the GAA and the Catholic Church as part of that? Your logic leads to that.

    Then there is SF’s brand of Republicanism. For the loyal orders to be asked to disband while leaving something like the Republican Movement intact would be bizarre and unjust. It seems to me if we’re encouraging divisive organisations to disband, we’d start with the paramilitaries, then move onto the paramilitary apologists before we got to the peaceful organisations.

    I hasten to add, I’m not fan of the loyal orders as such. They don’t serve the unionist cause particularly well and make it harder at times for outsiders to see the many other aspects of Ulster Protestant culture. But asking them to disband is a bit like asking Charlie Hebdo to close down voluntarily. It might save some bother and offence but ultimately it’s kind of important their freedom to say what they want within the law is respected. It doesn’t matter whether we agree with it or like it – in fact, it’s especially important when we don’t like it. Organisations fade away when the perceived need for them fades – in this case, the continued pressure put upon Ulster Protestant culture. It might be better to address that?

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Members of the Loyal Orders currently interact normally with society be it charitable, social or on enviromental issues – goodness what sort of monsters do you think we are?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    The book is one of the most important books to have addressed the experience of the sixteenth century conquest. I hope it is of help in your researches.

    Regarding education, while I had what is usually called a “privileged” schooling, but I feel that my real education all came from my family. My uncle wrote fiction, and I’d encountered most Irish literature and a good deal of world literature by my early teens and my grandfather was a man much read in general history, but with a great passion for his own Irish culture, a Gaeilgeoir who had learnt Irish before 1914 with the Gaelic League. But in the end it is our own love of culture that drives us to pick up on these things wherever we encounter them. From your posts I can see that you have nothing to complain of regarding where your own desire for knowledge has lead you.

    I am profoundly critical of the the entire education system, feeling that Pearse’s strictures about the utilitarian nature of education in his day still apply to our own.

  • carl marks

    Joe I’m a bit concerned with your ” man of God” comment, it would appear you are judging his Christianity, I thought such judgements where forbidden by the bible.
    And why should someone “of his beliefs” be on the parades. Commission, it is meant to have a balance so different views are invited on to it, I am sure you would have no objection to someone representing your views being on it.
    Joe we get it you don’t like the guy OK! But argue against what he says attacking him personally in such a petty way does your case no good .

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Tacapall, I’m posting this link for you as someone who might relish the absurdities of this: