The politics of protest remains the lifeblood of the Orange Order

In 2011, the Orange Order organized a protest march and rally outside Downing Street in London to protest the lifting of the ban on the British throne from anyone marrying a Catholic.

Their protest became part of a Remembrance Day parade and service for the order that day, and loyal brothers in attendance marched to the British Prime Minister’s residence to deliver a letter declaring their opposition and opposition to the plan.

The assembly was led and addressed by a certain Jeffrey Donaldson in his then capacity as Master of the Houses of Parliament Loyal Orange Lodge.

That was a decade ago, almost 13 years before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

The Orange Order is an institution lost and confused in the third decade of the 21st century in the year of our Lord. The world has moved on, leaving behind many old and minor religious prejudices and certainties, which firmly hold the organizations closest to our Savior.

Orangemen are allowed to marry Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Mormons, Seventh-day Adventists and atheists and remain members of the order, but falling in love and entering into marriages with Catholic consequences removes one from the order. Is.

In 2022, it’s hard to believe that someone would still do this kind of nonsense.

After all, Protestants and Catholics are much closer religiously than followers of most of the other religions mentioned above.

However, there is such continued hostility towards Catholics in these islands that the order has failed to remove rules that contribute to widespread negative perceptions of the organization.

While the Orange Order in Scotland went on to drop a rule forbidding members from attending weddings and funerals in Catholic churches in 2019, the Orange Order in Ireland has not followed suit.

The order’s participation in controversial parades long predates the existence of Sinn Féin, or the IRA, bogeymen cited by Orange leaders when seeking division of blame for disputes or conflicts.

Fourteen people were killed during violence at an Orange Parade in Stewartstown, Co Tyrone in 1797, while another four were killed 16 years later (1813), when an Orange procession paraded through a Catholic district in central Belfast. had tried to do.

The infamous Dolly Bray case in July 1849, when Orangemen murdered 30 local Catholics, reasserted their right to parade when and where the brothers wanted, regardless of local legal authorities’ determinations. establish.

It is easy to see how the 1998 murders of the three Quinn children – during the Drumcree controversy – would fit comfortably into the historical record of violence associated with the order’s sectarian movement.

The politics of protest has long been the lifeblood of the Orange Order, and in short, the source of its continuing difficulties.

It was a few weeks ago when video footage surfaced showing Orangemen and Loyalist bandsmen in Orange Hall celebrating the murder of Michael McArvey in Orange Hall sparked widespread protests. Some wondered where this hatred could come from.

Yet it is not difficult to draw a line from this sinister conduct to the so-called cultural traditions displayed annually; Including claiming mixed residential communities by raising flags to light bonfires adjacent to the ‘other’ while burning all manner of objects – from Celtic shirts to Sinn Féin election posters to statues of Our Marys stolen from church grounds Is.

The Orange Order suffered another blow with the BBC’s announcement that live coverage of its annual Twelfth Parade would not continue this year.

It has always been very difficult for the BBC to justify live coverage of a parade, which in the past has descended into violence on several occasions at the sectarian interface, and at which many loyalist paramilitary affiliated bands would play openly loyal and communal songs.

Yet the Orange Order isn’t going anywhere, and it shouldn’t be.

Within the order are many, many civilized peoples whose membership is due to the significant place of traditions, customs, family and communal ties passed down through generations.

The Irish tricolor was designed to formally provide a place and place to the Orange tradition on the island, recognizing the reality of our divisions and the need to find a way to coexist harmoniously regardless of those divisions. Is.

Ireland, north and south, has completely changed and the order’s stubborn refusal to advance over time has badly tarnished its reputation – even as pro-Union in the north of Ireland. Even within a large section of the community.

What Orangemen are missing is a leadership with a vision to guide them beyond the politics of protest, struggle and bitterness. It must come from within.

Alas, there is no sign of such a figure emerging from political federalism anytime soon.