Orange Institution and Politics…

Much has been said in recent times about how Unionist voices are not being heard, however, when Reverend Mervyn Gibson appeared on ‘Talkback’ recently it was one of those times when I wished this sentiment was true. Reverend Gibson was interviewed in his capacity as the Grand Secretary of the Orange Institution; however, his appearance was at times a mix of poor representation, misrepresentation and it also added further confusion as to what the Orange Institution stands for. It also …

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There’s no Twelfth, so no parades or bonfires are required…

As a starting point, I am fully aware of the irony, I’m an Orangeman, penning an article outlining my opposition to any type of parade or bonfire over the Twelfth weekend this year. Like Unionism, Orangeism (bands, lodges, and supporters) doesn’t do long term planning, so when the leadership of the Loyal Orange Institution (LOI) decided to cancel this year’s Twelfth celebrations back in March, it was an unexpected and decisive move. The Institution made a long terms decision (well …

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If Unionism is to maintain Northern Ireland’s membership of the UK then it must change and evolve – otherwise, it will become a footnote in a forgotten story…

There is an old joke within Orange circles that goes, if you put 10 Orangemen into a room for 3 hours and task them with putting together a strategy on their lodge’s ambition for the next 10 years, the outcome would be – 15 completely different and contradicting ideas that all must be implemented. The results being 3 people leaving the Orange for good (2 indicating it’s gone soft, 1 citing it’s got too extreme), 3 leave to set up …

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The Loyal Orange Institution may not be on parade this year, but there is still an important role for us to play in society at large…

As April arrives to borrow a phrase that’s popular now, the Loyal Orange Institution (LOI) would be ramping up its efforts in preparation for the Twelfth. This year however, the 2020 Twelfth will not go ahead. As things stand and if we are lucky the UK and ROI will hopefully be emerging from the epidemic in July with the lockdown being slowly released, it would be entirely irresponsible to have 17 large scale Twelfth demonstrations across Northern Ireland and an …

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Twelfth of July demonstrations cancelled

Edward Stevenson, the Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, has confirmed that the Orange Institution will not hold its annual Twelfth of July demonstrations this year and alternatives ways will be found to mark the occasion. With the parades cancelled, the focus will shift to communities and whether the tradition of Eleventh Night bonfires will continue given the large crowds that are attracted to view them when lit.

The Orange needs to go back to basics and look at what it stands for in 2020 and beyond…

There is something worryingly out of sync with the Loyal Orange Intuition when over three weeks after the “New Decade, New Approach” deal is agreed upon by politicians which brought about the immediate restoration of Stormont, senior delegates of the Institution meet to discuss the deal. The outworking of such a discussion was always going to be predictable, one might even say boring, however, the actions of the Orange have reinforced their status as being almost irrelevant and certainly not …

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The Orange Order’s Complex Relationship With The Irish Language…

In an ever-changing world there are now few constants and certainties, however, in Northern Ireland some remain including the fact that Unionism will find itself on the wrong side of a debate and be forced into a massive climb-down. The second certainty is that a spokesman (it’s always a man) for the Loyal Orange Institution will awkwardly enter the political arena with an ill-informed and often inaccurate intervention which will usually oppose whatever is being proposed. Unfortunately, as both a …

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A long way from Dan Winter’s cottage – An insiders view of the current state of the Orange Order…

Choyaa is a Fermanagh Orangeman Sam McBride has penned the highly acclaimed “Burned” which is a serious and important piece of investigative journalism that focuses on the Renewal Heating Incentive (RHI) scandal overseen by a number of prominent DUP members including the current leader Arlene Forster. Sam McBride was told by some within the DUP following the release of the book that it contained many errors, when Sam asked for specific examples he was met with silence. When I heard …

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An insiders guide to the Royal Black Institution and the Fermanagh Black Twelfth…

Choyaa is a Fermanagh Orangeman The anticipation of the big parade has been building up for the past year and come the first Saturday in August all preparations are about to be realised. There’s a plethora of speculation about who will be within the procession with some very famous dignitaries anticipated along with spectators expected to reach tens of thousands. There is a buzz, there is vibrancy, and there is a feeling that this parade is part of the mainstream …

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The Orange Order: An Insider’s View of The Twelfth Day

Choyaa is an Fermanagh Orangeman It’s the Sunday following the Twelfth and I arrive into church a few minutes early. The pews are generally empty as it’s the Twelfth period and our minister is on his annual holidays. A lady watches me attentively as I sit in one of the pews, I watch her from the corner of my eye and I suspect something is wrong. I have never spoken to this lady before but I have seen her in …

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‘Looking at how we got here can help us deal with the present and the future’, argues historical geographer

A better understanding of our history is important as a means of bringing our society together, believes Anthony Russell of the Thomas D’Arcy McGee Foundation.  “One of the things that we have been trying to do in the Thomas D’Arcy McGee Foundation is to use history as a tool for reconciliation, rather than something that has to be fought over,” he explains.  “Looking at how we got here” can help us to deal with the challenges we face today, says …

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The Orange Order: An Insider’s View…

To my surprise some recent thoughts of mine on the Orange Institution and its problems received a number of requests for more detail and I was kindly asked to post a topic or two on the subject. I thought I would break it into three posts if this doesn’t bore the Slugger audience too much, namely (1) Life in the Orange and the challenges faced, (2) A day at a Fermanagh Twelfth and (3) Moving the Institution Forward. Many years …

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Future Ireland / Loyalist Voices: A Conversation I’d Love To Have Someday

I like the idea of the conversation. I’ve always found conversations very useful. Arguments are too heated, always driven by aggression, and even debates always seem poised in an uncomfortable, adversarial way. But the conversation is good. A conversation is calm and much more likely to be geared toward understanding.  It was mid-morning in a nice bar in Northumberland Road, Dublin. My friend was across the road in Dublin and Wicklow’s Orange Hall. I’d been in there earlier and absolutely loved it, as any Loyalist anorak …

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Future Ireland / What Unionists Should Strive For

This week, we’re featuring submissions from readers on the theme of ‘Future Ireland: Alternative Conversations about Unity and the Union’. Competition winners will be published on Saturday. Alan Robinson is an Orangeman hailing from Carrickfergus. I’m an Orangeman, play in a flute band and support the Northern Ireland football team. If you only knew those three things about me, the stereotype of a loyalist skinhead would probably be conjured from the subconscious.  Dig a little deeper and see what you find: …

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My first trip to the Museum of Orange Heritage

Yesterday I ventured over to the Museum of Orange Heritage for the first time with Christopher Stalford. I have gone past this building many times without ever really desiring to go inside. Last week, Christopher very kindly expressed an offer to me to experience some parts of the culture of the Orange Order and we were able to get some time yesterday afternoon to visit the museum. Growing up, the Orange Order was something I was afraid of. I still …

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Arlene’s Valentines Day Massacre

Today could not have turned out any bigger a mess for the incumbent DUP Leader and would-be First Minister. If sources are to be believed the Fermanagh MLA was ready to sign off on a deal which would have seen 3 Bills introduced : An Irish Language Bill An Ulster Scots Bill A Joint Respect Bill What has happened since the weekend to put the Stormont train off the rails? A DUP Group meeting on Monday morning, 3 days of …

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“We cannot complain about the Irish State or its Constitution. It protects our rights.”

From the Irish Times which is worth reading about the Orange Order and how they operate in the South. The entire article is worth a read but this comment about the Irish constitution is worth highlighting A past master and current chaplain of the lodge, he says he could not ask for more protection from the State for his freedom of expression. “It’s fantastic. See the Irish Constitution, article 40.6.2: free assembly under the law without bearing arms. We can assemble …

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Orange Order; We believe it is in Northern Ireland’s vital interests for as many Unionist MPs as possible be returned to our mother Parliament

The Orange Order has issue a statement today urging the Unionist parties to show “unity of purpose” The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland recognises the critical importance and huge significance of the forthcoming General Election. As the United Kingdom commences the process of exiting the European Union it is essential a purposeful and stable Government is elected to act on behalf of, and deliver the best possible deal, for its citizens. Equally, it is of the utmost importance that Northern …

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Orange Order rates relief: £8.12m. (Twaddell policing costs: £24m, and counting… )

At the NI Assembly on Monday, Christopher Stalford received an answer to an assembly question directed at Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, the Finance Minister, as to the rates relief statistics for Orange Halls. The response tells us that since April 2006, the Orange institution has saved an estimated £8.12 million by being exempt from paying rates. During this time, of course, the DUP used the much criticised ‘Petition of Concern’ mechanism to block a Sínn Fein bill which would have enabled amateur sports clubs (such …

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Unionism needs to play the Loyal Order card again

An Orange Forum is needed to cement the Loyal Orders and the unionist parties together again. The Loyal Orders – the Orange, Black and Apprentice Boys – must begin formal negotiations, not just with nationalist residents groups, but also with the leaderships of the various unionist parties to discover precisely where they stand in relation to the Loyal Orders bloc vote.    The precise problem is that the Loyal Orders no longer enjoy the same support in the unionist parties …

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