The future is bright but it certainly isn’t Orange

The Orange Order is back in the news again, following the announcement that it has a new Grand Master, Mr. Edward Stevenson. A typical Nationalist reaction to such news was “there goes the new head-honcho bigot”

We all need to be careful about our choice of words. All of us are imprinted with varying degrees of bigotry as we grow up. If your place of birth is Northern Ireland, the chances are that you have more religious bigotry to deal with than in most regions of Europe. Conquering one’s own bigotry, in relation to all forms of prejudice and intolerance, is just as much about developing an open mind as it is of being tolerant of the bigotry of others.

I do not have a problem with religious bigotry which is confined to doctrine or dogma. It follows that I don’t mind being told that I will “not be saved” or that I am following a “hellish path” if I abide by the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. It is all the sort of stuff which Protestants generally believe about Catholicism, whether or not they are members of the Orange Order. Where bigotry hurts is when it leads to inhumane behaviour such as avoidance, shunning, unkindness, intolerance, discrimination and, at the worst extreme, religious hatred.

On paper, at least, the Orange Order tells its people to show kindness and neighbourliness to Roman Catholics. Some Orangemen do just that and I am privileged to know some of them as my friends.

Unfortunately, these people do not represent the majority in that organisation. The majority of Orangemen are law-abiding citizens. They are also generally polite to Catholics and happy to do business with them. However, in their minds, Catholics are still “themuns.” In their hearts they still can not go as far as completely trusting them.  They also find it very difficult to think non-communally. Real neighbourliness, which falls short of public duty, is hard to come by. This kind of thinking leads to discrimination and isolationism. It is not conducive to a shared future.

So far as Northern Irish politics is concerned, the Orange Order continues to dabble in politics, refuses to endorse political or religious pluralism and refuses to take responsibility for its role in past oppression of Catholics. At present, most UUP MLAs and most of its membership are still either members of the Orange order or very supportive of Orangism. The combined effects of these circumstances represent huge obstacles to progress for those Ulster Unionists who wish to move their party towards a more liberal position.

Tom Elliot has gone on record as saying that he wants the Orange Order to stay out of politics. Perhaps this is a recognition that an increasing number of Protestants are being turned off by the Orange Order and what it represents. Nonetheless, the appointment of a new Orange leader did not stop him from making a political gesture of ingratiation.

Meanwhile, the new leader of the Orange Order, Mr. Stevenson, did not disappoint his brethren when it came to stirring the pot. Outside Ballykelly hall, Mr. Stevenson announced that he would not be talking to Sinn Fein or the Parades Commission or attending GAA matches. There was nothing new in that. This was a leader of an intolerant organisation practising what it preaches.

The Conservative Party, if it has any ambition left in Northern Ireland politics, should avoid any association with Orangism. Unfortunately, the present link up with the UUP puts in jeopardy the Conservative Party’s non-sectarian credentials (more about that in a future post).

Meanwhile, the Orange Order’s declining membership roll can only be a good thing for Northern Ireland politics. The future is bright but it certainly is not Orange.

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10 Responses to The future is bright but it certainly isn’t Orange

  1. David Vance says:

    So, Provos in power = progress but an OO Leader with principle =bigot.

    • Seymour Major says:

      “…but an OO Leader with principle = bigot”

      The OO has its own principles but not all of them are shared by the vast majority of honest decent people. Mr. Stevenson’s predecessors have shown very little moral leadership over the years. One expects nothing from him either.

      I am sorry if you dont agree with me but talking to Sinn Fein is the right thing to do because, whether you like it or not, they represent a community.

      Orange leaders are, in fact, hypocrites when it comes to criticising Sinn Fein and the GAA. Here is a comment by John Burns in yesterday’s Sunday Times:

      “As soon as Edward Stevenson became grand master of the Orange Order, he made clear he wouldn’t be attending any GAA matches, since “too many GAA clubs are still named after convicted terrorists”.

      But what stance will he take on marching bands? The Freeman memorial Flute Band, for example, is named after Geoffrey Freeman, a UVF man who blew himself up arming a bomb.”

  2. A different shade of green says:

    So if you’re a member of the orange order you are sectarian. If your party has members who are in the Orange Order they are a bigoted and Sectarian party. If you even associate yourself with Orange Order I guess you must be sectarian. Well here is for a brighter and better future where we all respect each others traditions and heritage. What is a non sectarian party? Would the Aliiance party not look at your party and say by the fact that you are a Unionist party you are taking sides, flag waving in a country that has a highly contenious border, thus just adding to sectarianism. It’s so easy to call a group of people bigoted or sectarian and feel like you have the higher moral ground on them. To say the majority of Orangemen don’t trust there catholic neighbours is absurd ,how you know this I just don’t know. People join the orange order for many different reasons,family, heritage, culture, religion, national identity, the music and colour maybe all of above or maybe just one. Orange culture is one of the many beautiful cultures that make up our planet but like Irish Gaelic culture it has its faults its hardliners people who are intolerant to what they see as the other side, people who want what the other side have got or who are so desperate to preserve there culture they will turn to violence. If you knew what the twelfth meant to a young protestants, something I can only compare to christmas morning, you might not be so intolerable towards the orange order. To say young protestants are staying away from the culture is also misleading. Half a million people attended the twelfth last year, the band movement is the biggest growing youth movement in the westren Europe. Lambeg(an instrument indigenous to Ireland which is truely beautiful) drumming clubs are springing up everywhere across the country. We have the oldest and best marching bands in the world some of the oldest music in the world and have a culture when kept clean to be very proud of. On the twelfth this year I walked with my lodge, a local Sdlp member and GAA player wished us all a great day when we passed the chapel. I met my friend in the band at the field with his catholic girlfriend and had a great day with my family. For me this is the future for Northern Ireland, respecting each others cultures, not demonising one of them like you have done on this post.Catholic and Protestant families have a right to their cultures and in the past few years young people are learning to befriend each other across the devide yet still walk with there band or play GAA. Northern Ireland isn’t as black and white as you make it out to be and never has been.If a young catholic just read what you wrote I wouldn’t be surprised if he grew a dislike for Orange culture. By the way oppression has has happened to both the communities in the Northern Ireland at different stages, sometimes exaggerated for political motives. As for the Grand Master not going to a GAA match, I thought a so called liberal man like yourself would respect his liberty not to to go, I can imagine like myself he wouldn’t walk behind Freemen Memorial either. But I would attend a GAA match because I know not all the grounds are called after IRA men.Just to end with,one of your party collegues is an Orangeman a man who recieved a noble peace prize, why don’t you ask him to leave as orangism so offends you.

    • Seymour Major says:

      A shade of green,

      Firstly, let me commend the kind of tolerance and fellowship that you have described about your own experiences.

      I am not against the Orange Order maintaining its culture and celebrating the battle of the Boyne on 12th of July or the siege of Derry on 12th August. Parades should be preserved and welcomed as part of the cultural mix in Northern Ireland.

      However, you appear to have misunderstood some of what I have said. I also beg to differ with some of what you have said.

      Sectarianism involves some intersection with politics. The Orange Order is both political and religious. Sectarianism also involves segregation and separation. In my post, I highlighted their rule that they should show kindness and neighbourliness towards Catholics. Therefore in my definition of sectarianism, this means that the Orange Order is not, on paper, sectarian. In its purest form, Orangism does not offend me. The Orange Order has the means to purge its reputation for being sectarian, if it wants to.

      The Orange Order has a very poor record of being neighbourly. You may not agree with that but it is true. In very recent living memory, members of the Order, actively or passively, allowed their organisation to be used for sectarian activities, including blighting the economic prospects of Catholics. Since most members of the Order are middle-aged and upwards, I would suggest that most of them have been involved, passively or actively, in such activity. If, as you suggest, the majority of their membership is no longer engaged in sectarian activity, that is certainly a very recent phenomenon.

      The Orange Order has published lists of Orangemen killed in the troubles. Some of the members on the list include UVF and UDA. Orangemen also continue to glorify dead Orangemen who killed Catholics in sectarian murder. In that respect, they are no better than Sinn Fein. This is one part of their culture that I do not wish to see preserved.

      The Orange Order leadership should be taking responsibility for past events. That includes not just the recent economic sectarianism but also the unlawful violence perpetrated by their ancestors. They should be doing more to purge extremism within their organisation. They do not do enough to prevent it. Expelling paramilitaries only after they are prosecuted is not good enough. The Orange Order continues its tendency towards isolationism. I don’t care whether an Orangeman goes to a GAA match or not. You have really missed the point here. Mr. Stevenson was making a gesture of intolerance. I also agree with Mr. Elliot that the Order should stay out of politics. If it wants to make a call for unionist unity or make any other political gesture, it should at least do it behind closed doors.

      For all of those reasons, I stand my ground when I say that the Orange Order leaders are failing to provide moral leadership.

      Would the Alliance party not look at your party and say by the fact that you are a Unionist party you are taking sides, flag waving in a country that has a highly contentious border, thus just adding to sectarianism.

      I don’t dispute this at all. Perhaps you are not aware that NI centre right is campaigning for the Northern Ireland Conservatives to become an independent centre-right party which takes no position on the outcome of a future referendum on whether NI should remain part of the UK.

      Just to end with,one of your party collegues is an Orangeman a man who recieved a noble peace prize, why don’t you ask him to leave as orangism so offends you.

      I will say, once again, that Orangism does not offend me. I would welcome Orangemen becoming a member of my party, provided he was not anti-catholic. I can assure you that Lord Trimble is not anti-Catholic. In his nobel peace prize speech, he made an oblique reference to the wrongs of Unionism in the past. He said it was a “cold house for Catholics.”

      Taking responsibility for the past is something that I have been pressing politicians to do for some time. More than a decade on, no other unionist leader has come close to acknowledging, full on, the wrongs of the Unionist government from 1921-1972.

      • A Different Shade of Green says:

        I will say, once again, that Orangism does not offend me. I would welcome Orangemen becoming a member of my party, provided he was not anti-catholic. I can assure you that Lord Trimble is not anti-Catholic. In his nobel peace prize speech, he made an oblique reference to the wrongs of Unionism in the past. He said it was a “cold house for Catholics.”

        The Conservative Party, if it has any ambition left in Northern Ireland politics, should avoid any association with Orangism.

        A bit of a Contradiction there.Yes Northern Irland was a cold house for Catholics(nationalists). Nationalists where also cold towards the state of NI from the start(not surprisingly ) to the down right wanting to destroy it . Catholics were ostracised by their own for taking on any jobs that would secure the future of NI. civil Service, Police etc. The repuplic was also a cold house for protestants, remember the Fetrand incident. You can hardly blame the average working class Orangeman or protestant for this. We are all just products of our History. In the 1800.s Derry and Belfast where both Prorotestant cities. Catholics moved to the cities to escape the famine and find work. Protestant churches funded the first Catholic churches and the Orange Order help fund repair bills on churches. Protestants ownded all the buisnesses so I’m not surprised by 1920’s that protestants where a still prevelant in owning most major buisnesses, what could the average working class protestant do about this? Unioists politicians where in a bit of tricky situation with hardliners on there own side and Nationalists on the other. But they did try and introduce intergrated schooling , but the Catholic Church opted out. You say Catholics where oppressed in Northern Ireland from 21 to 70 something most academics in the middle refute.Read http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/issues/discrimination/whyte.htm .
        More like ”Catholic minority received less than fair treatment from the Protestant majority’ is a much better reflection of events. In the same period as this protestants were banned from Spain and Colombia, a black man couldn’t get on a bus in the southern states of the USA, 6 million jews perished in Europe. I would say NI was the least so called ‘oppresive’ of all the ‘oppresive’ states in the world. I think I would have rather have been a catholic in Northern Ireland than a Catholic in ROI with recent accusations of widespread child abuse. Maybe being brought up in Limerick you have been force fed with you own prejudices against the ‘black North’ and its people.
        Apoligising for our Ancestors.Being from a dolly mixture family what events would I apoligise for. Sorry about discriminating but thank you for saving us from Nazi invasion. Should the Conservative party(founded out of sectarianism) say sory for imperialism or be thanked for nation building and providing the world with civilization.Sure Denmark said sory to Dublin for the Vikings, quite ironic Dublin be a Viking City. Young Germans should they say sorry for theie grandparents?
        ”Orangemen also continue to glorify dead Orangemen who killed Catholics in sectarian murder. In that respect, they are no better than Sinn Fein”
        I’ve never seen or heard of this before. The Orange Order tried theie best to keep out the Paramilitaries and the religious right in the most trying of condiditions. 99 per cent of those Orangemen killed where inicent men, killed in cold blood by members and supporters of Sinn Fein. To compare them both is not only sick but down right ignorent of you. Can we compare ther Conservative goverment to the Sinn Fein for exterminating Republicans and the odd Loyalist paramilitary and and quite a few innocent people along the way,.
        I’m sorry Seymour but you come across as anti-unionist, anti relegion , ant-Protestant and wee bit adrift from reality. A lot of the stuff you talk about is never going to bring about a shared future for Northern Ireland or Ireland. What about this what about that will solve nothing and just breed more hatred.

      • Seymour Major says:

        “A bit of a Contradiction there.”

        No there is not. You have either not understood or pretended not to understand the distinction between those two parts of my comment. For the avoidance of doubt, I will spell out what the second part of my comment means in practice. It means that there would be very few Orangemen, if any, serving the party as elected politicians. That is not advocating a ban on them being candidates. It is simply that very few of them would be able to pass the rigorous tests which they would be put through in order to demonstrate their fitness to become candidates. For example, such a person would have to demonstrate their willingness and ability to campaign in Catholic areas.

        The Conservative Party can not afford to hinder its credentials as a party which is culturally and politically pluralist. It is important that the party campaigns for the votes of Catholics and vital that protects its multi-culuralist reputation in Britain.

        Yes Northern Irland was a cold house for Catholics(nationalists). Nationalists where also cold towards the state of NI from the start(not surprisingly )

        Never mind “Northern Ireland” it was Unionism in Northern Ireland which was a “cold house for Catholics” because of its sectarian nature. As to the attitude of Catholics towards the State, how could anybody expect them to endear themselves to a State which abused them? Let me quote the words of Terrence O’Neil in an interview for the Belfast Telegraph 1969.

        “It is frightfully hard to explain to Protestants that if you give Roman Catholics a good job and a good house they will live like Protestants because they will see neighbours with cars and television sets; they will refuse to have eighteen children. But if a Roman Catholic is jobless, and lives in the most ghastly hovel he will rear eighteen children on National Assistance. If you treat Roman Catholics with due consideration and kindness they will live like Protestants in spite of the authoritative nature of their Church…”

        ”Catholics were ostracised by their own for taking on any jobs that would secure the future of NI. civil Service, Police etc.”

        This is a very inaccurate comment which looks like an attempt to deflect from sectarian discrimination in the workplace. There was latterly some republican pressure to avoid becoming employed by the Police. In the end, many Catholics were put off from joining because they believed that the force was sectarian. Otherwise, Catholics took on other jobs as the opportunities arose but they were largely discriminated against, as the records show. It was only after the Fair Employment laws were brought in that there was an significant increase in Catholics taking those jobs. See also the graphs from ‘Ulster’s Doomed’ on the following post

        http://ulstersdoomed.blogspot.com/2010/02/reducing-impetus-towards-catholic.html

        ”The repuplic was also a cold house for protestants, remember the Fetrand incident.”

        So that made it right for the Protestant State to allow discrimination against Catholics in Northern Ireland did it?

        Your comment talks a lot about other things that have gone on in the world. Not relevant.

        ”You can hardly blame the average working class Orangeman or protestant for this.”

        I don’t blame anybody for feathering their own individual nest. As for the discriminating Protestant employers, their behaviour was despicable and against Orange Order principles. You will have noted that I directed my fire substantially against the institution and its leadership.

        ”But they did try and introduce intergrated schooling, but the Catholic Church opted out.”

        Not a justification for Orange led sectarian discrimination.

        You say Catholics where oppressed in Northern Ireland from 21 to 70 something most academics in the middle refute.

        I have not done a count up of academic opinion but I am very confident you are wrong.

        ”I’ve never seen or heard of this before. The Orange Order tried theie best to keep out the Paramilitaries and the religious right in the most trying of condiditions.”

        Well you have heard it now and you have seen the example I gave about the band in an earlier comment on this thread. Here are some other examples from a piece by Liam Clarke

        http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/world_news/article48702.ece

        I do not accept that enough has been done by the Orange Leadership to stamp out paramilitary activity, acquiescence of it or glorifying it. Expulsions of paramilitaries only seem to happen once they have been caught or exposed.

        ”I’m sorry Seymour but you come across as anti-unionist, anti religion , ant-Protestant and wee bit adrift from reality.”

        As far as Politics, religion and culture are concerned I am pluralist down to my toe. I have a much better handle on reality than anybody else. No, I am not expecting to be supported overnight in great waves but I am making people think and try to respond to what I have to say. That can only be a good thing.

        In conclusion, your comment has a lot of projection and a certain amount of denial. You, like many unionists, fail to admit that anything is wrong with Orangism. You have also not answered one of my central points, which is that the Orange Order has failed to show moral leadership. That includes taking responsibility for what has happened in the past. Churchmen have done it. Why cant the OO?

  3. A Different Shade of Green says:

    “For example, such a person would have to demonstrate their willingness and ability to campaign in Catholic areas.”
    I don’t believe in catholic and Protestant areas. Me being a ‘prod’ am I allowed to live in one of your so called catholic areas. I live in one of NIs new estates. In july some people fly their flags for the 12th and sometimes young people walk past the house with hurling bats. To me this is a sign of progress where people can tolerate each others culture. I don’t think an orangeman would wear his sash if he was campaigning for the Cons up the Falls but I have funny a feeling it would be a safer bet than wearing a conservative badge. So I take it only a few GAA members would pass this rigorous test as well,leaving your base support in Northern to the non tribal,very small and already swallowed up by the Alliance Party who for some reason only seem to do well in Unionist dominated areas. I wonder if the people in say Sandy Row knew of your hard hitting views would you be able to past this vigorous test to campaign up this road. Having an orangeman or even a GAA politician would only strengthen the multi cultural side of the party. Funny in England your party would use a Muslim to gain votes in a mostly Muslim area but not so in a predominately white area. You also have the islamaphopia brigade in you party as witnessed this week or is it the over exaggeration of the Muslim lady.Bigots,Sectarian(your favourite words) that’s what a lot if the papers are saying. Where have I heard this before?
    Things that went on around the world did matter. Fear breeds sectarianism. The example of protestants being banned from worship in Spain or De Valera’s quote that Ireland was a Catholic country(in which Craig replied to the next day) for a Catholic people.Protestants being barred from a library in Westport in the 50’s, even know I’m just a cultural prod I can fully understand why Protestants did not want to be part of an authoritarian Catholic regime, they didn’t like the forceful politics of the Catholic church for no reason and even the most liberal non religious Unionist was prepared to take up arms against this.
    You make it sound like sectarianism was fully one-sided and completely orange led. I have read that some IRA members in Belfast could not believe how sectarian the views of there members in Tyrone and Fermanagh were. They said to them it was imperial war but to others it was purely religious supported by priests in the area. Churches saying sorry,haven’t heard Paisley say so. Claudy ring any bells, who is denial there.Down where you live enniskillen bomb, can’t think of a more sectarian incident yet almost the whole Catholic population vote for the perpateators. Don’t you think things like this lead to Protestant resentment and fuels sectarian views.
    Catholics believed the police force to be sectarian apart from the ones who where in it who said they never came across this sectarianism. Sounds like you have ate a book on Republican propaganda.
    You said you went to Roslea to a republican event and you enjoyed it, I wonder if you would also happily go along to some loyalist paramilitary event have a cup a tea and have a great day.
    Freeman Memorial are not connected to the orange order by the way but yes ,sadly in my view,a lodge does take them on the 12th.liam mentions that only one GAA ground is called after a terrorist, if you want I’ll give you a list in my next post that vastly contradicts this. I said before it was a very very small minority of Orangemen who got involved in paramilitarism and yes the order has already acknowledged this . On the other hand the GAA had a very strong republican presence. The problem with both sets of paramilitaries ‘peaceful ones’ they are both so strong I just have to accept them even if it goes against who I am.If you look at Sinn fein the Unionist people have had to accept there position even after all they have done. The likes of Freeman Memorial can now turn around and say will respect us as well to to both the unionist and Nationalist community. I would actually like the Orange order to meet the more moderate strands of the GAA and try and sort out there differances. My friend an orangeman actually ran a cross community event between a Camogie and hockey team to Croke park recently,so on the ground things are already progressing.
    By the way I know there’s a lot of complex issues with the Orange Order,they have done wrong certainly and they are not by anyway the perfect organisation.I do deny from all the things i’v read a lot of of what you said happened in the past and feel you have went well over the top.Even if what you said is true it’s not for the current generation to say sorry. Not many of the OO were adults in1921 if any.I could maybe say sorry for discriminating but thanks for delivering from the shackles…………sorry
    for.. Thanks for……But at the end of the day I would be apologising to my Great granny a Catholic and thanking all my Protestant ancestors at the same time. So if you want the OO to say sorry for something, they should get in the Que. behind the terrorists the 2 Governments the Churches and anybody else who feels the need to apoligise. But a man who has a better grasp of reality than anybody else like yourself,should know it’s not going to happen.

  4. Luke says:

    You are all narrow minded fools. WAKE UP

    Enjoy your life, accept everyone. Educate yourself.

    Why waste your life hating others and arguing. At your hour of death, lets see what you have to say for yourselves. Looking back ..what a waste

    Make this country a good place to live, rather than the shithole that it is.
    All of you are to blame for this mess we are in.

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