Jude Collins

Friday, 3 February 2012

Our Time, Our Place?

We've begun to get really good at breaking new ground. Or at least our political leaders have. Peter Robinson was at that GAA McKenna Cup Final and Martin McGuinness is all set to follow Caral Ní Chuilín's example and attend a soccer game in Windsor Park. But because we're intent on these new and commendable moves, there's a danger we'll draw back from pointing out things that we see as wrong with those from another tradition. In other words, from finding just about everything wrong with the other lot, there's a risk we'll find nothing wrong with them.

This morning was a case in point. Jim Rogers was on the Stephen Nolan radio show, upset that the 'Our Time, Our Place' tourism initiative hadn't included the Twelfth on its list of tourist attractions. Jim said the Orange Order was making all sorts of efforts so the day could be enjoyed by everyone and we should be accentuating the positive and that he was pretty appalled that the tourist board hadn't highlighted the Twelfth. I begged to differ but with little noticeable effect.

So OK,  let's get the nice stuff said first. It's perfectly understandable that people should relish a big day out, a dash of music and colour and yes, why not, a few jars, to break the monotony of a long summer. And there are people who see the Twelfth as just that. But.

There's no point in looking at the Twelfth with one eye closed. In its history and constitution, the Twelfth is an anti-Catholic organisation. If you believe that's debatable, consider the following:

* The Orange Order was born out of a loyalist paramilitary organisation, the Peep O' Day Boys, at the end of the eighteenth century.
* Throughout the nineteenth, twentieth and into the twenty-first century, it has repeatedly been involved in violence against Catholics, a violence often fuelled by alcohol.
* The founding documents of the Orange Order say "An Orangeman should... be somebody who has hostility towards the distinctive doctrines, the superstitions, the priestcraft and spiritual despotism of the Church of Rome".
* It doesn't allow Catholics to be members, or to have a Catholic spouse, or attend Catholic religious ceremonies.
* It pledges loyalty to the British monarch provisional on that monarch being a Protestant.

I could go on but you get the drift. Twist and turn as much as it might,  the Orange Order is faced with a history and a set of rules that are shamefully anti-Catholic.

There's nothing can be done about history - it's happened. But if it expects to be recognised as a half-respectable organisation, let alone included on a list headed 'Our Place, Our Time', the Orange Order had better take a very large red pen and a pair of scissors to its constitution and do some major redrafting.

And by the way, Jim - the Orange Order doesn't march just on the Twelfth only. If only. Two thousand - or was it three thousand? - marches every year. Can you imagine? Oh sorry - you don't have to. You experience it every year.


  1. Didn't get to hear the whole Nolan show this morning but it seems that after Jim's protestations about the exclusion of the orange order the Tourist board issued a statement to the effect that they had excluded themselves by not applying to be included in their promotional material!!! Pass the bandages please there seems to be another gunshot wound in my foot.

  2. Tourist Attraction??? Generally its something are proud of, yes, titanic included.

    Proud of having a sectarian organisation? Really? sorry, only the deluded numbskulls in various loyalist estates are proud of that.

    There is a reason why the 12th is not on the list... it drives people away.

  3. Well said Jude. Jim Rodgers can hardly lecture anyone on accentuating the positive. It wasn't so long ago when our Jim organised a protest to prevent Cliftonville fans from entering the Oval to watch a football match.

  4. To my friends I a bit of a letter writing crank; about the timeof the launch of "Orange Fest" I wrote to the Orange Order suggesting that rather than concentrating on the perceived negatives of the 12th , that they should try and broaden the festival by making it a celebration of the cultural contribution of people from the loyalist/unionist/protestant side. Cinema showings of actors who had made it to Hollywood; writers whose work had gone global; put on plays by the likes of Parker, Reid and Sam Thompson.In other words show that their culture is not just two dimensional. I'm still waiting on a reply.