For God and Ulster: An Alternative Guide to the Loyal Orders
PFC | 11 April 1998
This alternative guide to the Loyal Orders is an attempt to fill a gap, a gap in information about semi-secret organisations which have played a major role in the history of this island and a gap in understanding as to why a significant number of people have a problem with those organisations. Few outside of the Orders are aware of the structure, history and development of the organisations concerned.
Table of Contents
- Orange Order
- Qualifications of an Orangeman
- Structure of The Orange Order in the World
- Central Committee
- Battle of The Diamond
- Royal Black Institution
- Royal Arch Purple Order
- Junior Loyal Orange Lodge
- Women's Loyal Orange Lodge
- Apprentice Boys of Derry
- Independent Orange Order
- Parades - The First Hundred Years
- Political History
- The League and the Order
- Orange Card
- Glory Days - The Orange Order and the Stormont Years, 1921-1972
- Direct Rule and the Orders
- Social Role of the Orders
- Bowler and the Balaclava
- Loyalist Bands
- Orders and the Churches: an Unholy Alliance?
- Defining Moments
- The Law and the Order
- The Spirit of Drumcree
- Unedifying and Acrimonious Bickering
The first part of this Guide offers a basic outline.
A second theme of the Guide is the controversy surrounding contentious parades and the political role of the Orders, past and present. A chronological history of parading disputes in the nineteenth century puts the current issue into perspective. Parading disputes are as old as the Orange Order itself. Those involved in community relations work speak frequently of perceptions, opinions about others that are based on a false premise.
We would argue that the history of political involvement by the Orders is based on hard fact not perceptions. An insight into the political role of these organisations allows for better understanding of why many people have a genuine problem with that most public manifestation of Orangeism, the parade. The Orders focus on the cultural and religious roles that they fulfill and the need to defend civil and religious liberties. There can be no doubt that the Orders are religious, cultural and social organisations who have a right to parade. Their political involvement however has often served to deny civil, religious and political liberties to others.
Understanding why others have a problem is the first step on the road to solving that problem.
Read on.Back to top
Each year on the Twelfth the media devote extensive coverage to a series of parades which take place throughout the North of Ireland. Mention is made of the carnival atmosphere, the spectators along the route, family groups picnicking on the grass at the end of a long day and the sheer colour of it all. The majority of the parades are organised by the Orange Order, a benign religious and cultural organisation according to its supporters. A sectarian and deeply political organisation according to its detractors. But what is the Orange Order? Membership is restricted to male Protestants who must fulfill the following:Back to top
Qualifications of an Orangeman
"An Orangeman should have a sincere love and veneration for his Heavenly Father; a humble and steadfast faith in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, believing in Him as the only Mediator between God and man. He should cultivate truth and justice, brotherly kindness and charity, devotion and piety, concord and unity, and obedience to the laws; his deportment should be gentle and compassionate, kind and courteous; he should seek a society of the virtuous, and avoid that of the evil; he should honour and diligently study the Holy Scriptures, and make them the rule of his faith and practice; he should love, uphold, and defend the Protestant religion, and sincerely desire and endeavour to propagate its doctrines and precepts; he should strenuously oppose the fatal errors and doctrines of the Church of Rome, and scrupulously avoid countenancing (by his presence or otherwise) any act of ceremony of Popish worship; he should by all lawful means, resist the ascendancy of that Church, its encroachments, and the extension of its power, ever abstaining from all uncharitable words, actions or sentiments, towards his Roman Catholic brethren; he should remember to keep holy the Sabbath day, and attend the public worship of God, and diligently train up his offspring, and all under his control, in the fear of God, and in the Protestant faith; he should never take the name of God in vain, but abstain from all cursing and profane language, and use every opportunity of discouraging these, and all other sinful practices, in others; his conduct should be guided by wisdom and prudence, and marked by honesty, temperance, and sobriety; the glory of God and the welfare of man, the honour of his Sovereign, and the good of his country, should be the motive of his actions."
Candidates must be proposed by a member of a lodge (under law 84) and promise among other things to:
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at all times conform to the Laws and Ordinances of the Loyal Orange Institution of Ireland, and will at all times recognise and support the authority of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland.
I promise that, if admitted a member of this Lodge, I will always show due respect to the Worshipful Master and other Officers, and will endeavour to conduct myself as a Brother ought towards all members of the Lodge and of the Brotherhood, and that I will always observe and never knowingly violate, the By-Laws of the Lodge.
I was born at ................... in the county of ...................... of Protestant parents, was educated in the Protestant faith, and have never been in any way connected with the Church of Rome. My wife is a Protestant/I am unmarried..
Structure of The Orange Order in the World
The Orange Institution world-wide is headed by the Imperial Grand Orange Council of the World, which is recognised as the supreme court of the Orange Order. It has the power to arbitrate disputes between, but not within, Grand Lodges, unless invited by a Grand Lodge to do so. The Council represents the Grand Lodges of Ireland, Scotland, England, Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, "and the West African states of Ghana and Togo" (Kennedy (ed.) 1990, p.26).
Each of the Grand Lodges has its own organisational structure. The structure of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland is as follows;
There are some 1400 private lodges in Ireland , each with its own warrant number and history (Jarman and Bryan 1995:7).
" Some lodges are based upon location, a particular village or district, or even upon an area where people used to live, such as lodges in Belfast that connect to the counties of Fermanagh, Tyrone or Donegal. Others are based upon occupations or even specific places of work "(Jarman and Bryan 1995:7-8).
Lodge meetings may spend six months discussing what type of sandwiches should be made for the Twelfth and the next six months discussing whether the right choice was made. On the other hand local lodges are ideal vehicles for political mobilisation. At this level lodges have been involved in letter writing campaigns on behalf of the UDR four and other campaigns. Many of the submissions received by the Police Authority during their much vaunted consultation period were from local lodges.
Each private lodge has a number of elected officers including the Master, Deputy Master, Secretary, Treasurer and Chaplain. The lodge organises the lodge banner and local parades and church services as well as organising to go to the Twelfth parade.
Each private lodge elects six representatives to the District lodge, of which there are 126 in Ireland. Each District lodge has its own elected officers who look after the District Orange Hall and the private lodges within their district as well as organising parades at a district level.
A district lodge will then send 7 to 13 delegates to one of 12 County Grand Lodges, each of which is said to have its own character.
The Grand Lodge of Ireland is made up of 250 representatives from the County Lodges and other elected Officers. The structure of the Grand Lodge is as follows:
- Grand Master
- Assistant Grand masters (2)
- 52 Deputy Grand Masters - 30 already present at Grand Lodge through County Office.
- Nominated by Counties with a number appointed by Grand Lodge.
- Grand Secretary
- Past Grand Secretary
- Grand Treasurer
- Deputy Grand Secretary
- Deputy Grand Treasurer
- Executive Officer (Full-time paid official
- 4 Assistant Grand Secretaries
- 4 Assistant Grand Treasurers
- Grand Lecturer
- Deputy Grand Lecturer
- Grand Director of Ceremonies
- Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies
- Inside Tyler
- Assistant Librarian
- Grand Committee (60 - elected from counties)
- 2 Orange Standard reps
Total membership - 373Back to top
The Central Committee draws three members from each of the six counties of Northern Ireland plus two each from Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan and one from Leitrim. In addition it includes, The Grand Master, the Vice-Chairman, Deputy vice-chairman, 2 Assistant Grand Masters, Grand and Deputy Grand Secretaries, Grand and Deputy Grand Treasurers, Past Grand Secretary, 4 Assistant Deputy Grand Secretaries, Grand Lecturer, convenors of Education Committee and Press Committees, Legal Assessor, Executive Officer (ex-officio) (Wilson (ed.) 1995, pp.12-13).
The Central Committee makes policy recommendations to the Grand Lodge and issues press and public statements on matters of public concern.
The Grand Committee is elected from the counties and
"deals mainly with the application of the rules and regulation in terms of [internal] discipline"(Wilson (ed.) 1995, pp.12-13).
There are also committees on finance, education, press, Rules Revision, the Orange Standard, publications and specialist committees such as the ad-hoc group on the Framework Document.
The Grand Lodge, which has been referred to as a "semi-elected, unaccountable cabal" having a "backward and unenlightened attitude to women" (Wilson (ed.) 1995, p.3) meets several times a year with representatives of the Ulster Unionist Party with which it has had formal links since the end of the 19th century. The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland is entitled to send delegates to the Ulster Unionist Council and the leader of the Unionist Party, David Trimble, is himself an Orangeman. Of late the pressure group, the Spirit of Drumcree has criticised the perceived lack of democracy at Grand Lodge level and the domination of the top tier of the organisation by members of the Ulster Unionist Party.Back to top
The standard estimate of membership of the Orange Order is put at around 100,000. The real figure may be around half that number. Before looking at the various estimates it should be pointed out that the Grand Lodge itself appears unsure of how many members are 'on the books'. At the meeting of the Spirit of Drumcree group in the Ulster Hall in 1995 one speaker, advocating the creation of a bank for Order members, made reference to "43,000 members" (Report to Half-Yearly Meeting, 9.12.1995, p.14). A recent article in the Irish Times refers to "50,000 active Orangemen" and "around 80,000 men" (5.4.1997). In a study for the University of Ulster Jarman and Bryan speculate that "in recent years membership has probably shrunk to nearer 40,000" (Parade and Protest,p.6).
The June 1997 issue of the Orange Order's monthly newspaper (the Orange Standard) states that "hundreds of new brethren have been initiated into the ranks of the Orange Institution during the past six months" and puts this down to a trend "which has been evident since 1990" when the Tercentenary of the Order was celebrated. There has been speculation of a 'Drumcree factor' leading to an upsurge in membership. This may account for the growth noted in the Orange Standard. Less well publicised has been the negative consequence of the Drumcree stand-offs. Hundreds of older, more conservative members are believed to have allowed their membership to lapse in the wake of the controversies surrounding parades. Confronting lines of riot-clad RUC officers in the Battle for Drumcree was not what they had in mind. Ironically the Order has its origins in another confrontation, the Battle of the Diamond.Back to top
Battle of The Diamond
'Official' accounts of the 'Battle of the Diamond' vary considerably (Murdie et al, 1993: 29, McCourtney 1995: 11-13, Brown 1995: 5-9, Sloan 1995:27). Its significance in Orange history is that it was the catalyst for the formation of the Orange Institution.
The background to the Battle of the Diamond is the land disputes taking place in counties Down, Tyrone and Armagh at the end of the eighteenth century (Brown 1995, p.7). Land disputes at the time were often, but not always, sectarian in character. In south-eastern Armagh clashes between Defenders and Peep o'Day Boys were commonplace. It is understood that the Defenders were an armed society of Catholic peasants and the Peep o'Days "reckless Protestants [who] took it upon themselves to disarm them". They did this by raiding Catholic houses at dawn (Brown 1995:7). The Defenders had also been in conflict with government troops and with 'volunteers' raised by the Lieutenant of Armagh Lord Charlemont, both of which were deployed to enforce a ban on "Roman Catholics [from] assembling in arms" (Brown 1995:8).
At the time of the Battle of the Diamond the Defenders were gaining in strength and numbers with their influence extending across several counties. In a broader context the stakes had been raised by the outbreak of war between Britain and Revolutionary France. For the Protestants of Armagh there was an increasing sense of threat from Defenderism (Brown 1995, p.8).
The spark for the battle came in the form of a dispute over a cock-fight between one Dan Winter, innkeeper, spirit grocer and loom owner, who was a "noted Peep o'Day Boy", and some local Defenders, in the Spring of 1795 (Murdie et al 1993, p.29, Brown 1995, p.5). Dan Winter's cottage is located near Loughgall, at the Diamond Crossroads, which is strategically overlooked by Faughart Hill to the south and Diamond Hill to the north. Skirmishes that summer between Peep o'Days and Defenders culminated in some 3-400 Defenders taking Faughart Hill on the 20th of September. They were opposed on Diamond Hill by 200 Peep o'Day Boys, 'Orange Boys' and their allies, many of whom are said to have been members of the volunteers. Dan Winter along with his sons and some others stayed to defend his cottage in the valley below. A truce and agreement to withdraw, negotiated by local notaries and Catholic priests, was broken by Defenders who had come from " Crossmaglen, Co. Monaghan and Co. Louth" (Murdie et al 1993, p.29, Soan 1995, p.27). The Defenders attacked at 5 am on Sept 21, setting fire to Dan Winter's thatch roof and pursuing him up the steep slopes of Diamond Hill from where they were repelled by their opponents superior organisation and firepower (Murdie et al 1993, pp.29-30, Brown 1995, p.9). The Defenders were chased from Dan Winter's cottage and off Faughart Hill. The arrival of Militia from Portadown and soldiers from Charlemont prevented their being chased further (Murdie et al 1993, p.30). The battle caused one Protestant man to be injured and over 40 deaths on the Catholic side (Brown 1995, p.9, Sloan 1995, p.27). The victors returned to the smouldering remains of Dan Winters Cottage where they founded the Orange Society, the organisation that was to become the Orange Institution (Murdie et al 1993, pp.29-30, Brown 1995:9, Sloan 1995, p.27).Back to top
Royal Black Institution
The Royal Black Perceptory ( Imperial Royal Black Chapter of the British Commonwealth ) was established in 1797, in the aftermath of the 1795 Battle of the Diamond. It was founded
"... for the preservation of the Protestant religion, and to serve as a bulwark against insidious attempts of the opponents of liberty [sic]." (Sir Knight Norman Stronge, Bart., former Sovereign Grand Master of the Imperial Grand Black Chapter of the British Commonwealth. Cited in Gardiner, 1993).
The Black's history is closely tied to that of the Orange Institution. It has not always been recognised by the Institution. There have been periods when the Black degree, upon which the Preceptory is based, was banned by the Orange leadership, because membership of it
"... offered routes to power which those in the Grand Lodge found difficult to control" (Jarman and Bryan 1996, p.10).
The Royal Black Perceptory separated officially from the Orange Institution in 1819-20 (Mundie et al 1993, p.76). It was reconstituted in Portadown in 1846, (Sloan, Gardiner 1993) with the formation of the Imperial Grand Black Chapter of the British Commonwealth.
The headquarters of the Grand Black Chapter are at Brownlow house in Lurgan, described as the largest Orange Hall in the world. (Sloan ) The Royal Black organises in Perceptories, equivalent to Orange Lodges (Jarman and Bryan 1996, p.11). Its members are referred to as "Sir Knight" (Jarman and Bryan 1996:11, Sloan , Gardiner 1993). Orange brethren must have passed the Purple Marksman degree of the Orange Institution in order to be eligible for membership of their local Preceptory (Buckley and Kenney 1995:177). Membership of the Black in other words is restricted to those who are already members of the Orange.
The Black holds 'Processions', as opposed to Orange 'Parades'. The most famous of its annual events is the 13 of July re-enactment of the Battle of the Boyne, at Scarva (Sloan, Gardiner 1993). Another significant date for the Order is 'Black Saturday' at the end of August when parades are held.
The Black Institution is less overtly political than the Orange. In common with the Purple its regalia and banners display mainly Old Testament imagery (Jarman and Bryan 1996, p.11, Buckley and Kenney 1995, p.178). The Black is also less likely to hire the more controversial 'blood and thunder' bands when on parade. "The Black Institution is ... best understood as reflecting the more middle class, rural, religious, respectable, even elite, elements of Orangeism. It is the more conservative face of the Orange and of Unionism" (Jarman and Bryan 1996, p.11). Though the political influence of the Black has traditionally been less discernible than that of the other Loyal Orders it should not be underestimated. When the Stormont Prime Minister Brian Faulkner made a number of concessions to nationalist demands in a frantic bid in keep a sinking ship afloat in 1971 he felt obliged to go, with his ministers, to Brownlow House in Lurgan, headquarters of the Black, to explain the concessions (Coogan, 1995, p.124).
The Royal Black Institution has for its motto, written under a Christian cross, the Constantinian edict "In hoc signe vinces" (" In this sign [the cross] you conquer") (Buckley and Kenney 1995, p.178). Members of the Black have included Westminster MPs the most famous of whom is James Molyneaux, former leader of the Ulster Unionists who is the Sovereign Grand Master. The Royal Black Institution currently has 536 perceptories in Ireland, 27 in England, 62 in Scotland and others in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and West Africa. As the 21st century approaches it vows to maintain "... the Protestant cause and the fostering of friendly relations among people of a common heritage...." (Sloan, Gardiner 1993).
FORM OF ADMISSION FOR CANDIDATES INTO THE Imperial Grand Black Chapter of ... the British Commonwealth ...
(Instituted in Ireland 1797)
To the Worshipful Master and Members of the Royal Black Perceptory No. ......... holding a warrant of the Grand Black Chapter of Ireland, and working under the ...... Chapter of ......
I am a Member of and in good standing in Loyal Orange Lodge No. Holding a Warrant of the Grand Orange Lodge of ...... and respectfully make application for admission into the Black Order, and to membership of Royal Black Perceptory No. .....
I promise that if admitted a member of the Royal Black Order that I will always conduct myself in a manner becoming the dignity of the Order, and I will never knowingly violate the Rules of the Grand Black Chapter or the Bye Laws of the ..... or District Chapter under whose jurisdiction the Preceptory works.
I voluntarily and unreservedly subscribe the qualifications as follows:-
I am able to read and understand the Rules of the Grand Black Chapter.
I believe in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity as held by the Established Churches of England and Scotland.
I am over 19 years of age, and have received the Archpurple Degree at least six months. I am not, nor have not, been a member of any other Association professing to be of the Black Order.
I was born of Protestant Parents, who were in no way nor at any time connected with the Roman Catholic faith, and I was born in wedlock.
Married? and my wife is a Protestant.
I have not to my knowledge or belief been proposed in, rejected by, or expelled from any Preceptory.
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Royal Arch Purple Order
Probably the least known of the Loyal Orders, the Royal Arch Purple, like the Orange Institution and the Black, traces its origins back to the time of Battle Of the Diamond (1795) (Mundie, Cargo and Kilpatrick 1993,p.9). Although the Royal Arch Purple Order wasn't constituted at the same time as the Orange Institution, it sees itself as a guardian of some of the old traditions which gave rise to that organisation. Its main purpose, say Mundie et al, is to maintain and pass on intact "the old system", in other words the rites and traditions of the pre-1800 Orange Society. The Orange Society, and later the Orange Institution, took their rules from those of the Boyne Society, which had originally been established by Williamite veterans of the Battle of The Boyne (Mundie et al 1993, pp.10, 32, 38). Essentially, the Royal Arch Purple is the third degree attained within the system of degrees in Orangeism.
There is some suggestion that the Old Testament themes and emblems of the Royal Arch Purple are borrowed from those of the degrees of the Freemasons (Mundie at al 1993: 200, Buckley and Kenney 1995, p.178).
The Royal Arch Purple has never existed independently of the Orange Institution, though its status within the Institution has not always been clear (Mundie et al 1993, pp.5, 203). In 1817 a Grand (Orange) Lodge general meeting in Dublin appointed a committee to regulate the status of the Purple Order (Mundie et al 1993, p.9). It is understood that the three original degrees (of seniority) of the Orange Ritual were amalgamated sometime around 1799 into the degree of Purple Marksman (Mundie et al 1993: 38). The Royal Arch Purple Degree was devised in 1802 to replace the degree of Purple Marksman (Mundie et al 1993, pp.58-9). Sometime around 1812 the Royal Arch Purple Order began convening Chapter meetings based on local Orange Lodges and drawing its members from those Orangemen who had passed the Royal Arch Purple Degree (Mundie et al 1993, p.135).
The Royal Arch Purple Order was banned in 1820 by the Orange leadership (Mundie et al 1993, p. 157). Despite this it persisted, even when the Grand Lodges of Britain and Ireland were banned by Parliament in 1836. Its membership rules were printed in an 1846 issue of the Belfast-based Protestant Journal, and it was reconstituted in 1911 under the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Ireland. Although it is now tolerated, it is still not officially recognised by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland and still has no permanent headquarters (Mundie et al 1993, p.162). The Purple holds only a small number of church parades in its own right (Bryan and Jarman 1996, p.14).
Joining the Purple tends to be seen today as an intermediate step toward joining the Royal Black Preceptory (Buckley and Kenney 1995, p.178). To pass the Purple Degree, an Orangeman must wait at least six months after having passed the first Degree of the Orange Institution, the Orange, after which a member will pass on to the second degree, the Plain. The ritual of initiation into the Purple Degree is still regarded as the most elaborate and terrifying within the Orange Order (Buckley and Kenney 1995, p.177). It is known that the ceremony involves the firing of a pistol loaded with live rounds though it is unclear whether this custom continues. There has been one fatality and a number of injuries recorded over the years ( Mundie et al 1993, p.160).
The Royal Arch Purple has 1215 Private Chapters (equivalent to Orange Lodges), 121 District Chapters and 13 County Grand Chapters in Ireland (Mundie et al 1993, p.160). The Grand Master as of 1993 was the Most Worshipful Kenneth Watson.Back to top
Junior Loyal Orange Lodge
The Junior Loyal Orange Lodge existed in one form or another since the 1880s but it was not until 1925 that a more formal association came into being. Membership is open to boys between the ages of eight and 16 at which stage it is presumed that they will pass on to the senior lodges. Many however drop away at this stage having fulfilled their parents wishes. Young boys and men are more likely to be attracted to bands rather the Order itself.
In theory the JLOL is a separate entity since 1974 and one of the Loyal Orders in its own right though in practice it is doubtful if the Junior Brethren would ever paddle their own canoe. An estimate of possible members has been put at a 'couple of thousand'. A holiday home exists for junior members in Donaghadee.Back to top
Women's Loyal Orange Lodge
The Association of Loyal Orangewomen of Ireland was founded in the middle of the last century. Formally the Women's Lodge is another of the Loyal Orders but in essence women have been delegated to making the tea and sandwiches on the Twelfth. Officially the "Sisters parade when written invitations from the Brethren have been received and approved by Women's Grand Lodge". (Steadfast, p.41) In effect women were not welcome on parade until the Tercentenary in 1990. The influx of foreign lodges, complete with marching women, to the Twelfth parades that year forced the Grand Lodge of Ireland into a tactical retreat on the issue of women on parade.Back to top
Apprentice Boys of Derry
The Apprentice Boys of Derry Club, precursor of the present organisation , was founded in 1814. The principle aims of the organisation are to commemorate the two principle events of the siege of Derry which began in 1688, the closing of the Gates by the Apprentice Boys in December and the Relief of the city in August. The commemoration of these two events remains the focus of the Apprentice Boys of Derry and have been marked in some form or manner since the late 17th century.
The headquarters of the organisation is the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall near the city walls in Derry. This is the only place where new members can be initiated, a ritual which usually takes place before the two parades in December and August. The structure of the organisation is centred around eight parent clubs, six of which are named after leaders of the besieged city.
- the Apprentice Boys of Derry Club and
- the No Surrender Club.
Some 200 branch clubs exist in Ireland (North and South), Scotland, England and Canada. Each of these branch clubs is both established through and affiliated to one of the eight parent clubs. They are also linked through the Amalgamated Committees, eight of which are in the North of Ireland, one in Scotland and one in England.
The overall organisation and management of the Apprentice Boys is firmly in the hands of the General Committee which is made up of 44 members. The structure of the General Committee is such that the order's membership in Derry has ultimate control over any decisions.
The Apprentice Boys publish a quarterly newsletter titled "The Crimson Banner". It carries organisational news and political opinion pieces, including articles from DUP and UUP elected representatives. No issues of the newsletter have been published as of late.
The 'Boys' were officially affiliated to the Ulster Unionist Council of the Ulster Unionist Party from 1911 through to the mid-1970s. At that point, their connection with official unionism was broken, reflecting the fractured nature of unionism and, in particular, the growth and influence of the Democratic Unionist Party. The Rev. Ian Paisley (who is not a member of the Orange Order) is a member of the Apprentice Boys of Derry along with a number of other unionist politicians such as the UUPs Ken Maginnis, MP.
Cross membership between the Apprentice Boys and the other Loyal Orders is common and is reflected in the fact that both the Orange Order and the Royal Black Institution have rooms within the Apprentice Boy's Memorial Hall.
The organisation as of late stresses the cultural aspects of its commemorations. Like the other Loyal Orders it has in fact been deeply involved in the politics of this island for many years. The present Governor of the Apprentice Boys is Alistair Simpson, a local man from the Fountain Estate in Derry.
The Apprentice Boys estimate that they have about 12,000 members, but it is thought that the figure may be closer to 9,000.Back to top
Independent Orange Order
The two individuals who influenced the formation and early development of the Independent Orange Order when it was formed in 1903 must have made a strange combination. One, an evangelical preacher called T.H.Sloan, was expelled from the Orange Order after he had criticised it for being "soft on Catholicism" (Lyons, 1973, p.296) while the other, a Dublin based journalist called Robert Lindsay Crawford went on to frame the famous Magheramourne Manifesto "which attempted to lift the new movement out of sectarian politics" (ibid, p.296). The manifesto was sufficiently different in its appeal to workers and tenant farmers to bring about a working alliance of Labour, nationalist and independent Unionist candidates in Belfast during the 1906 election. The brief flirtation of the Independent Order with class based politics didn't last long and by 1908 the imperative of defending the Union had brought the IOO back to the Unionist fold where it has remained firmly ever since.
The evidence of its independence is still visible in that the IOO is not formally aligned to any of the Unionist parties. That said the DUP has influence within the organisation and the Rev.Ian Paisley is invited to speak at the Independent Twelfth which is held in the North Antrim area. He is not a member. The banners carried on the Independent parades tend to "offer a fundamentalist version of Ulster history." (Jarman, 1997, p.171) Independent Orange Lodges have seen a "small growth" in Portadown and other areas thought to be related to internal problems with the Grand Lodge. (Bryan &Jarman, 1996, P14) Membership figures, based on the annual parades, would suggest that the organisation has several thousand members.
In Scotland a dispute over support from lodge members for loyalist paramilitaries in the 1980s led to speculation that "a number of lodges may secede to the more militant Independent Orange Order" (Bruce, 1992, p.164).
The Deputy Grand Master of the Independent Orange Order in the Mid-Ulster area announced in December 1996 that there "was strong support among the Independent Orange Order for the picket of masses at Harryville" in Ballymena. Roy Ferguson confirmed that members of the IOO had been present at the protests though they were not wearing their collarettes. Speculating that it would be up to local lodges to make a decision on joining the protest the Deputy Grand Master attacked another member of the IOO, Pastor David Mc Conaghy who had distanced the organisation from the weekly pickets which frequently led to confrontation with the RUC and intimidation of mass-goers until Saturday evening masses were canceled in June 1997. He added that, in his view ,the Catholic Mass was wrong under the Westminster Confession of Faith (Irish News, 20.12.1996). The Grand Lodge of the Orange Order has condemned the protests and the Unionist Mayor of Ballymena has shown solidarity with worshippers by his physical presence outside the chapel.Back to top
Parades - The First Hundred Years
It would be the hope of the Orange Institution that as the troubles came to an end Orange Order parades can once again enjoy the support of both sections of the community in the spirit of tolerance and parity of esteem. (The Order on Parade, 1995, p.10)
It has frequently happened to me to traverse many miles of the country on the night of the Twelfth of July and I can safely assert that I invariably found the roads more quiet on that night than on any other. William Blacker, 1797
1796 - First Twelfth parades held at a number of venues including Lurgan, Portadown and Waringstown. The Northern Star reports that a Mr M'Murdie, an Orangeman, died of stab wounds following clashes with the militia in Aghalee (Jarman,1997, p.47).
Seven months earlier, the Governor of Armagh, Lord Gosford, spoke to a meeting of magistrates about the activities of the newly formed Orange Order:
"It is no secret that a persecution is now raging in this country ... the only crime is ... profession of the Roman Catholic faith. A lawless banditti have constituted themselves judges ..." (Curtis, 1995, p.9).
1797 - 14 people are killed in violence during an Orange parade in Stewartstown , Co. Tyrone.
1813 An Orange procession attempts to parade down Hercules Street (later Royal Avenue) in Belfast, then a narrow lane and the first 'identifiable Catholic neighbourhood' in the city. In the resultant violence four men die. The prosecutor in a subsequent trial notes that the Orange Order, "...had presumed to arrogate to themselves a title to exclusive loyalty ... [but] ... whatsoever be their professions, tend to disturb the public peace" (Hepburn, 1996, p.1).
1814 - The Apprentice Boys of Derry Club, precursor of the present organisation, is founded.
1818 - A number of people are injured during disturbances at an Orange parade in Kilrea, Co Derry. In Liverpool Orangemen attempt to burn effigies of the Pope and the Cardinal outside the Catholic Cathedral but are stopped by the Mayor (Gray, 1972, p.93).
1822 - Fighting breaks out following an Orange parade in Middletown, Co Armagh. One man, Patrick Grimley, is killed. In Derry the Apprentice Boys parade is attacked. Tension in the city is linked to Catholic frustration at their continued exclusion from local political power and the growing campaign for Catholic Emancipation.
1823 - The British Government puts restrictions on 'popular societies' (including the Catholic Association) curbing the Orange Order and its parades. It becomes illegal for the Order to administer oaths. As a consequence the Order is dissolved and reconstituted. Trouble is reported at the Twelfth parade in Killyleagh, Co Down.
1824 - Serious disturbances occur at Twelfth parades in Belfast, Donaghadee, Downpatrick, Dromore and Newry.
1825 - Sectarian confrontations follow Orange parades in Belfast. The Grand Lodge of the Orange Order dissolves itself in response to the Unlawful Societies Act. Nevertheless in Portadown and elsewhere Orangemen defy the law and continue to parade.
1827 - Portadown Orangemen again defy the law and some 5000 march in the town.
1828 - The Duke of Cumberland, Imperial Grand Master, in a letter to the Earl of Enniskillen, Deputy Grand Master, warns of the danger that "our public processions" could lead to "... a breach of the public peace ..." which could result in a ban on processions (Gray, 1972, p.112). The Belfast parades are canceled but illegal processions take place in several areas.
1829 - The Grand Master tries unsuccessfully to cancel that year's parades but he is ignored. Trouble occurs in Armagh, Bellaghy, Comber, Greyabbey, Glenoe, Portadown and Strabane where 3 people are seriously injured. In Stewartstown one man dies while seven are killed in disturbances in Clones and eight are killed in Enniskillen. In Maghera, Co Derry, several Catholic homes were burnt down prompting the intervention of the military who arrest a number of Orangemen. At their court appearance the men are rescued by a large mob. The magistrate instructs the police not to intervene (Gray, 1972, p.114).
1830 - The Lord Lieutenant bans all processions but this is again ignored. In Maghery, Co Armagh "fierce fighting" breaks out between Orangemen and Catholic villagers "despite the presence of a large force of police and military" (Murphy, 1981, p.69 and Gray, 1972, p.114). Throughout the 1830s and 1840s clashes occur on the Twelfth in Belfast between the Catholic 'Pound boys' and the Protestant 'Sandy Row boys'. In Scotland regular clashes occur between Orangemen and Irish immigrants.
1832 - Belfast Orangemen celebrate a Tory election victory with an attack on a Catholic area whereupon fierce and prolonged fighting" follows. Four people die. The Northern Whig describes a prominent Orangeman, a Mr Boyce, addressing his followers from the window of the Tories' committee room where they were reassured that "the Protestants had gained this victory, and that they would continue to maintain their ascendancy" (Curtis, 1995, p.36). The Party Processions Act comes into force. Those attempting to parade are prosecuted.
1833 - In Tandragee an effigy is burnt of a local magistrate who had served warrants on Orangemen and rioting ensues during the Orange parade (Campbell, 1991, p.152). Illegal parades by Portadown Orangemen continue and Ballyhagan, a Catholic area near Portadown, is besieged by Orangemen who attack a number of homes.
1835 - A riot erupts on the Twelfth following a controversy over an Orange arch in the Sandy Row area of Belfast. Meanwhile Hugh Donnelly, a Catholic from Drumcree, is killed in a confrontation with Orangemen near Portadown. In evidence to a Parliamentary Select Committee set up to investigate the Orange Order an Armagh Magistrate, William Hancock, a Protestant, said:
"For some time past the peaceable inhabitants of the parish of Drumcree have been insulted and outraged by large bodies of Orangemen parading the highways, playing party tunes, firing shots, and using the most opprobrious epithets they could invent...a body of Orangemen marched through the town and proceeded to Drumcree church, passing by the Catholic chapel though it was a considerable distance out of their way."
1836 - The military use six pieces of artillery (!) to help quell trouble at an Orange gathering at Scarva. In Derry party parades are banned (Murphy, 1981, p.56).
1845 - Following the lifting of the Party Processions Act Orange parades again take place in many areas.
1846 - Trouble flares at Orange parades in Armagh and Newry.
1848 - Trouble flares between Orangemen and those taking part in St Patrick's Day parades in Downpatrick, Ballynahinch and Hilltown.
1849 - St Patrick's Day parades are again a source of conflict between Orangemen and marchers in Castlewellan and Crossgar. An Orange demonstration is hosted by Lord Roden, Grand Master of the Orange Order, on his estate at Tullymore, near Castlewellan, County Down. Roden launches a fiery verbal attack on Catholicism. Catholics, seeking revenge for the St Patrick's Day incidents, attack Orangemen at nearby Dolly's Brae. Six (Stewart, 1997 a, p.135), eight (Jarman,1997, p.55) or thirty (Campbell, 1991, pp. 255 ) Catholics are reported killed in the subsequent clashes with Orangemen and the militia. The event passes into Orange folklore. An official commission of inquiry condemns Roden's role and he is forced to resign as justice of the peace but remains Grand Master.
1850 - As a result of the clashes at Dolly's Brae the Party Processions Act is renewed forbidding public displays and demonstrations.
1857 - Following serious disturbances in Belfast the commissioners of the Belfast Riot Inquiry rule that the "originating cause of the riots" were the July 12 orange parades (Darby,1986, p.11). The Inquiry went on to state that the "celebration of that festival" was used
"to remind one party of the triumphs of their ancestors over those of the other, and to inculcate the feelings of Protestant superiority over their Roman Catholic neighbours"(Stewart, 1997 a, p.151).
1860 - One man dies and 15 others are wounded when Orangemen open fire on Catholics in Derrymacash, between Lurgan and Portadown, during an Orange parade. The Party Processions Act was subsequently amended to prohibit the carrying of arms on parades but this had "little or no effect" where the judiciary, military and police "were either openly sympathetic to, or intimidated by, Orangeism" (GRRC, 1996, pp.14).
1866 - In Portadown three Orangemen are arrested and charged with "meeting and parading in the public road, wearing party colours, and playing music, which was calculated to provoke animosity between different classes of Her Majesty's subjects"(Walker, 1996, p.93).
1867 - William Johnson of Ballykilbeg, a legendary figure in Orangeism, challenges the ban on parades by leading a large group of Orangemen from Newtownards to Bangor in
"a display of Orange strength against the growing menace of Fenianism" (Gray, 1972, p.152).
As a result he is convicted and serves time in Downpatrick gaol. Johnson was a fascinating figure who went on to defend the rights of Catholics to march. By this stage a massive campaign of civil disobedience had made the ban unworkable. With the collapse of the Party Processions Act the British Administration in Ireland institute a policy of "equal marching rights". Parades are allowed to proceed but are restricted to non-contentious areas (Hepburn,1996, p.247 ). In west Ulster Orange parades are revived "in protest at the laxity of Dublin Castle in dealing with sympathy demonstrations for the Fenians." An attempted Orange procession at Muff Glen near Derry is blocked by heavily armed Catholics (Murphy, 1981, p.117).
1869 - Following rioting in the city the Londonderry Riot Inquiry notes that "the character of the demonstrations (by the Apprentice Boys) has certainly undergone a change, and, among the Catholic lower classes at least, they are now regarded with the most hostile feelings" (Darby, 1986, p.11). The Inquiry recommended that Orange parades be banned since they represented "the proudest recollection of one section" and "bitter humiliation" for the other (ibid., p.15). The 'Shutting of the Gates' ceremony in December, organised by the Apprentice Boys , sparks a counter-demonstration of several thousand people.
1870 - In Derry a campaign of opposition to Apprentice Boys parades continues. In August a nationalist counter-demonstration to the Apprentice Boys parade is banned and "serious rioting ensued". The controversy over parades continued. Lacy notes that in Derry:
"from 1877 onwards the determination of Catholics to have the same rights as Protestants to march inside the walled city was increasingly asserted. The early 1880s were marked by many confrontations over marches and there was increased sectarian tension" (Lacy, 1990, p.203).
1883 - Trouble flares in Donegal town when an Orange counter-demonstration was organised in opposition to Michael Davitt, one of the leaders of the Land League who was to address a meeting in the town. In Derry city "two persons receive wounds of a serious character" in clashes between Bogsiders and Apprentice Boys who have taken over the Town Hall in the Diamond during a visit to the city by the nationalist mayor of Dublin (Stewart, 1997, p.74).
1886 - The Orange Order mobilises in opposition to Gladstone's Home Rule Bill with parades throughout the North. In a letter Randolf Churchill incites Orangemen and Unionists to violence with the call "Ulster will fight (Home Rule), Ulster will be right." Rioting follows the defeat of the Bill in June and 12 July Orange parades lead predictably to disturbances that are "probably the worst outbreak of violence that century". By mid September some 50 people had lost their lives and thousands had been driven from their workplaces and homes (Curtis, 1995, p.142 ).
The growing political role of the Orange Order in the 1880s in co-ordinating the anti-Home Rule campaign had important implications for that most public manifestation of Orangeism, i.e. the parade. The middle classes and the gentry flocked back to the Loyal Orders having deserted them in the early decades of the century as disreputable "lawless banditti". Institutional links with the emerging Ulster Unionist Party were developed and the Orders became more centralised and focused political machines. Mass mobilisations were co-ordinated in pursuit of a clear goal ; the defeat of Home Rule which the Orders claimed equaled "Rome Rule". Annual skirmishes on the highways and byways of Ulster, though they still occurred, were no longer seen as appropriate to an organisation which had regained its respectability.Back to top
It is hard to convince people that we are not really that different from any other club or society.
George Patton, Chief Executive, Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland
The Loyal Orders stress the cultural and religious aspects of their organisations. The reality of their involvement over the past 200 years tells a different story ...
In February 1800 three Orange lodges in Dublin, defying Grand Lodge instructions, issued a statement condemning the Union of Britain and Ireland on the grounds that "We consider the extinction of our separate legislatures as the extinction of the Irish nation." At issue was the possible loss of the "Protestant Irish Parliament" and a "weakening of the Protestant ascendancy" (Orange Order, 1990, p.8).
It was by no means the first political intervention of the Orange Order. It was certainly not to be the last.
Three years earlier Brigadier-General C.E. Knox had written to General Lake, Commander of the British Army in Ulster, "I hope to increase the animosity between Orangemen and United Irishmen. Upon that animosity depends the safety of the centre counties of the North" (Campbell, 1991, p.84). Historians such as A.T.Q. Stewart have argued against the 'divide and rule' or 'counter revolutionary explanation of why the Orange Order came into being. They argue that the roots of its formation are to be found deep in the localised agrarian disputes of Co. Armagh. This is probably true but the fact is that the Order quickly came to be seen as an indispensable political tool and as the backbone of the yeomenry who provided for 'safety' in Ulster.
A generation later, the threat came, not from United Irishmen or the Union but from the demand for Catholic Emancipation. The Order was anxious to "counter the persistent demand for Roman Catholic Emancipation" and found an ally in Robert Peel, later to become Chief Secretary for Ireland (Orange Order, 1990, p.8). Though Emancipation was granted this was not to prove enough as the Marquis of Londonderry angrily told a rally organised by Dr Henry Cooke , the fiery preacher.
"Had they (Catholics) been tranquil and content; had they ceased from agitation? No!" he told the mass demonstration, the main purpose of which was to rally behind landlords fearful of legislative changes which could affect their privileges (Gray, 1972, pp.116-117).
For the aristocracy the Order provided an invaluable sense of 'Protestant unity' at a time of social upheaval. Hepburn refers to 'Protestant unity' based on the Orange Order as an increasingly effective politico-religious organisation linking Anglicans, Presbyterians and other Protestant denominations in one movement" (Hepburn, 1996, p.143).
A Parliamentary Select Committee report in 1835 showed that the estimated 220,000 members of the Order in Britain and Ireland included the Dukes of York and Cumberland, senior churchmen and magistrates (Curtis, 1994, p.36). Allegations surfaced that the Duke of Cumberland, brother of King William IV and Imperial Grand Master, intended using the Order in a coup d'etat to prevent the succession to the throne of his niece, Princess Victoria. The same report found that "the Orangemen controlled the Irish Yeomanry, had lodges in the army, enjoyed a certain immunity from justice in Ulster and were frequently engaged in civil disturbances." It went on, "the effect of the Orange Institution is to keep up an exclusive association in civil and military society, exciting one portion of the people against the other" and cited an example from Scotland where miners in a lodge had expelled Catholics from their working party " with whom they had previously lived and worked in perfect harmony" (Gray, 1972, pp.122-129). In England Orangeism was growing in influence and Orangemen were to play a role in cities like Manchester as allies of the authorities in their attempts to combat trade unionism in the lead-up to the Peterloo Massacre (Gray, 1972, p.93).
In Derry the local Tory MP, Lord Claud Hamilton, gained control of the Apprentice Boys following the 1865 election and swung them firmly behind the policies of the Tory party and the defence of the Church of Ireland as the Established Church to the dismay of liberal Presbyterians (Lacy, 1990, p.200). Within the Apprentice Boys "the new leaders quickly placed the anniversary parades on a new footing by turning them into a mass triumphal demonstration for traditional Tory policies on Ireland" (Murphy, 1981, p.116). The entire issue of parades had become complicated due to the introduction of an apparently harmless innovation, the railway. Attendance at previously localised parades increased dramatically as special trains allowed for thousands to attend from throughout the North. One historian noted:
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"It was one thing for local Apprentice Boys to hold their strange rites under the mocking but tolerant eyes of Catholic neighbours ... but it was a different matter for them to be supported by large numbers of strangers, no doubt with vastly increased potential for provocation, implied or direct, making the message clear that Catholics were to be kept in their place, which was emphatically outside the walls" (Stewart, 1997 a, p.73.)
The League and the Order
The emergence of the Land League, campaigning against a land system regarded by John Stuart Mill as "the worst in Europe", was to strain the relationship between those in the Order who tilled the land and those who owned it. In January 1881 the Land League held a public meeting in the Orange heartland of Loughgall, Co. Armagh. On the platform was Michael Davitt, one of the main 'agitators' in the League. The meeting was chaired by the local Worshipful Master of the Orange Lodge who heard Davitt tell the crowd that the "landlords of Ireland are all of one religion-their God is mammon and rack-rents, and evictions their only morality, while the toilers of the fields, whether Orangemen, Catholics, Presbyterians or Methodists are the victims" (Curtis, 1994, p.100). Elsewhere in Ulster some local Lodges passed resolutions against "over-high rents" and condemned tactics by landlords' "calculated to produce and embitter sectarian feelings"(Campbell, 1991, p.305). The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland responded swiftly to this dangerous outbreak of class consciousness with a manifesto claiming that the Land League was a conspiracy against property rights, Protestantism, civil and religious liberty and the British constitution (Curtis, 1994, p.101). One Orange chaplain, the 'shooting rector' the Rev. Kane, advocated shooting priests in reprisal for attacks on landlords. In Mayo the campaign of social ostracism of a landlord, Captain Boycott, which was to add a new verb to the English language, prompted the intervention of the Order when 50 Orangemen from Cavan and Monaghan traveled to the 'boycotted' estate to harvest the crops, effectively as scab workers.
With the extension of the adult male franchise the Twelfth speeches became more overtly political (Walker,1996, p.95). Votes were there to be won. Not that the Orange Order was overly enthusiastic about the extension of civil liberties implicit in the Ballot Act. "Votes were given to a minority to be exercised for the benefit of the majority." responded one leading Orangeman (Bell, 1976 p.56). The 1880s was a period of revival for the Order. Among those who jumped aboard the accelerating train was Colonel Saunderson, a Cavan landlord who would go on to become deputy Grand Master within two years, Tory MP for N. Armagh and later leader of Unionist MPs. Saunderson played a major role in advocating armed resistance to Home Rule and extending a fateful invitation to one Randolf Churchill, the notorious father of Winston Churchill, to visit Belfast.Back to top
In February 1886 Churchill spoke at a mass rally in the Ulster Hall organised by local conservatives and the Orange Order. The message, insurrection should Home Rule be implemented, was a clear call to arms from an influential member of the British Establishment. In an open letter Churchill forecast that "Ulster will fight, Ulster will be right". While the Order mobilised, Colonel Saunderson warned a Belfast meeting that,
"rather than submit to such a Romish and Rebel despotism [Home Rule], the minority would take to the field and defend their rights at the point of the sword" (Curtis, 1994, p.139).
The Orange Order provided the structure "not only for political organisation, but if need be for a private army" (Stewart, 1997 a, p.167). A committee set up to campaign against Home Rule, later to become the Ulster Loyalist Anti-Repeal Union, included the Rev 'shooting rector' Kane, Grand Master of Belfast Orangemen and the Rev Hugh 'Roaring' Hanna, who had been indicted for his role in provoking riots. The Anti-Repeal Union organised an Ulster Unionist Convention in 1892 where the assembled masses heard rousing speeches from the Duke of Abercorn, a prominent Orangeman. Churchill's interest in Ireland, despite the rhetoric, had more to do with damaging Liberals at home than any love of (loyal) Ulster. Shortly before the Belfast visit he wrote to a friend, "If the G.O.M. (Prime Minister Gladstone) went for Home Rule, the Orange card would be the one to play". Calling up the ghosts of the "vessel of the Union" with "her Loyalist crew" may have seemed politically clever in London. In Belfast other ghosts, of pogroms, riots, expulsions, and deaths returned to haunt the city within months of Churchill's inflammatory speeches. The Home Rule Bill was defeated and the Orange Order had entered a new phase of "increasingly pervasive influence" (Hepburn, 1996, p.3).
In the period leading up to the First World War the Orange Order was transformed, in the words of Unionist MP Ronald Mc Neill (later Lord Cushendun), into a
"highly respectable and exceedingly powerful political organisation" (Campbell, 1991, p.326).
The organisation had grown from 35 lodges in Belfast alone with some 1,335 members in 1851 to more than 100 lodges with over 4,000 men in Belfast by 1878 (Curtis, 1994, p.132). Access to skilled employment depended frequently on Orange foremen. In the 1885 general election twelve of the elected sixteen Unionist MPs were Orangemen. Saunderson, leader of the Unionist MPs, was to be elected Grand Master of the Orange Lodge and was invested as a member of the privy council by Queen Victoria. The impetus towards Unionist unity came clearly from the Order. The Ulster Unionist Council originally consisted of 200 members, 100 from Unionist associations, fifty MPs, peers and ex officio members, and the remaining 50 nominated by the Orange Order.
Two attempts to legislate for Home Rule had been defeated as the new century dawned. The Order had played a major role in that defeat. The years leading up to the eventual partition of Ireland saw the Orange Order again to the fore in promoting the Unionist cause. In 1911 the Ulster Unionist Council was enlarged to include the "militant Apprentice Boys of Derry" with the remit of organising " consistent and continuous political action" in the interests of Ulster Unionism (Lyons, 1973, p.295). That same year Edward Carson, the Dublin born Unionist leader, announced to a 100,000 strong crowd drawn from Unionist clubs and Orange lodges that an alternative government for the 'Protestant province of Ulster' would be put in place should a third Home Rule Bill prove successful. Support from English Conservatives was quickly forthcoming and the Conservative leader, Bonar Law, spoke on the same platform as Carson some months later. The Orange card was dealt a second time though Bonar Law confessed a more personal involvement than that of the syphilis-ridden Churchill when he admitted that "dislike of Roman Catholicism" was at "bottom one of the strongest feelings in England and Scotland" (Campbell,1991, p.412). Within months Carson was organising a private army, the Ulster Volunteers. A lawyer, Colonel Wallace, who was also secretary of the Grand Lodge of Ulster, discovered legal loopholes which would allow the creation of what was essentially an illegal private army. The Ulster Volunteer Force, as it was to become, was recruited and drilled in Orange Halls and it's members were drawn from the existing structure of lodges throughout Ulster. Estimates of membership exceeded 100,000. In a recent publication the Order records that "six of Ulster's nine counties remain British today" (1995) because of the "willingness and determination of ordinary Orangemen to stand shoulder to shoulder ... in the ranks of the Ulster Volunteer Force some 80 years ago" (Kennedy,1995, p.99). Resistance was not restricted to Ireland or Britain. In Canada, where the Order wielded considerable influence, mass meetings were held and in 1913 the Orange Association of Manitoba volunteered a regiment to fight in aid of the Unionist cause (Stewart, 1997 b, p.138). Support was also offered from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
In 1912 nearly half a million Protestants had pledged to resist Home Rule 'by any means'. Crowds waited their turn to sign the Solemn Oath and Covenant, some with their own blood, while Orange Order stewards kept order. Two further events conspired to convince Downing St that 'loyalty' meant something very different to Ulster Unionists and even to senior officers in His Majesties Armed Forces. In a master stroke the UVF illegally imported thousands of German weapons. A month earlier, at the Curragh Army Camp in Kildare, British Army officers had made clear that they would resign rather than move against the UVF. In their opinion if Ulster should fight then Ulster would be right.. When an amended Home Rule Bill did eventually become law it was put 'on hold'. A larger drama was unfolding on the battlefields of Europe in which the UVF was to play its part as a regiment of the British Army. On 1 July 1916, months after Irish Republicans had rebelled against British rule, the men of the 36th Ulster Division (UVF) were "marching through a hail of machine-gun fire as calmly and jauntily as if they were 'walking' the streets of Belfast on a typical July 12 Orange procession" (Gray, 1972, p.170). Over 2500 men died that day. That year the Twelfth parades were canceled and a five minute silence was observed in Belfast and throughout the North. Having paid the ultimate 'blood sacrifice' it was inevitable that the Home Rule which was eventually to emerge in the north of a partitioned Ireland was in the form of a 'Protestant State for a Protestant people', the Orange State.Back to top
Glory Days - The Orange Order and the Stormont Years, 1921-1972
When seven Westminster MPs, all Orangemen, met in January 1886 in the midst of the Home Rule crisis to form what eventually became the Unionist Party, they set the stage for the relationship between the Order and the Party thereafter. The Order sought to have a direct and crucial influence on political decisions, an objective which was fully realised when Ireland was partitioned twenty five years later. 'The marriage between the Unionist Party and the Orange Institution' (Probert, 1978, p. 63) meant that 'the Order became a central organisational link in the unionist political machine' in the new Northern Ireland statelet.
Each of the six Prime Ministers between 1921 and 1972 were Orangemen, as were all but three Cabinet Ministers between 1921 and 1969. Three Orange ministers later left the Order, one because his daughter married a Catholic, one to become Minister of Community Relations in 1970; the third was expelled for attending a Catholic religious ceremony. Of the 95 Stormont MPs who did not become Cabinet Ministers, 87 were Orangemen. Every Unionist Senator between 1921 and 1969 - with one exception - was an Orangeman (Harbinson 1973, pp. 90-1, 95). One of these senators, James Gyle, was suspended from the Order for seven years for visiting nationalist MP Joe Devlin on his deathbed, showing, as Farrell (1978, p. 144) puts it 'even in death the Unionists were ungenerous'.
Orangemen in power used public office to make Orange exclusivism a central doctrine in state policy. Thus, Basil Brooke, then Minister of Agriculture and later Prime Minister, stated in Derry in March 1934:
" I recommend those people who are loyalists not to employ Roman Catholics, 99 per cent of whom are disloyal" (Farrell, 1980, p.90).
And in April 1934, the Prime Minister himself, Lord Craigavon, backed this up in the most infamous of the sectarian statements of the era:
"I have always said that I am an Orangeman first and a politician and a member of this parliament afterwards ... All I boast is that we have a Protestant parliament and a Protestant state" (Farrell, 1980, p. 92).
Although the rougher edges of this sectarianism were smoothed somewhat in time, even in the liberal 1960s, the same exclusivism came through in the sentiments of a later Prime Minister, Terence O'Neill, in May 1969:
"If you treat Roman Catholics with due consideration and kindness, they will live like Protestants, in spite of the authoritative nature of their church" (Farrell, 1980, p. 256).
Terence O' Neill, himself a member of the Orange Order, Apprentice Boys of Derry and Royal Black Institution, divided unionist and Orange opinion. Hostility by some brethren to O'Neills reforms reached such a stage that George Forrest, the Unionist MP for Mid-Ulster was dragged off the platform during the Twelfth rally in Coagh, Co Tyrone in 1967 and kicked unconscious (Purdie, 1990, p.23).
The vanguard of the Order in government and in Stormont was backed up by a huge and influential army of foot soldiers in the wider society. Probert (1978, p.63) estimates that in 1969 there were between 125,000 and 130,000 members of the Order. Even the shake up of unionism in the 1970s did not decimate the Order. There were still an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 members in 1980, 4,000 - 5,000 of whom were still in the South (Flackes 1980, p.169). The percentage of RUC members who were also members of the Order is unknown, but the B-Specials were almost exclusively Orangemen.
Such an organisation, reaching from workers, through the security industry and up to the top ranks of the government was a powerful political force. Although there were frequently severe tactical differences between different groups, the strength of unionism in the Stormont years was the ability to hold together as a strategically focused power bloc. The apparent enigma was that unionism united factory owners and those they employed and exploited, that "all the unionist leaders were members of a "squirearchy" leading a party which was predominantly working class" (Arthur, 1982, p.62). The mechanism which held this together, the explanation of the enigma, was the Orange Order.
The Orange Order was not content to be merely a powerful force behind the scenes of politics and industry. There was also its public face, most apparent during the annual marches. Had those marches been confined to unionist areas it could easily be concluded that they were nothing more than folk festivals, the unionist community's equivalent of Mardi Gras. But a key component of the annual marching was the objective of 'flying the flag in enemy territory'. Miller (1978, p.144) concludes that "Orange parades can only take place either on the sufferance of the local Catholics or by virtue of an overwhelming show of force by the authorities". This was apparent through the five decades of Unionist Party monopoly rule.
In 1935 the worst violence since the foundation of the statelet occurred, leaving nine people dead and 514 Catholic families, comprising 2,241 people, intimidated out of Protestant areas. The violence began on the Twelfth of July when the annual Orange march was returning from the Field (then in East Belfast) and invaded the small Catholic enclave of Lancaster Street, off York Street. For its part, the Orange Order blamed the violence on 'that portion of the populace which ever arrays itself on the side of sedition and disloyalty' (see Munck and Rolston, 1987, p.53).
In the 1950s, the Longstone Road area near Annalong, County Down became the Drumcree of its day. In June 1952, Orangemen from Annalong went out of their way to march through the nationalist Longstone Road, which was not a traditional route. The march was banned by Stormont. The ensuing uproar from Orangemen and Unionists persuaded the Stormont government to back down and allow another Orange march through the area on July 3, 1952. But the route was blocked by local nationalists and the RUC did not have enough personnel to force the march through. Further parades in ensuing years were banned, but in 1955 permission was given for a Twelfth parade. 12,000 Orangemen, led by local Unionist MP Brian Faulkner, paraded twice along the road protected by 300 RUC men, many in riot gear. The following year a pitched battle ensued with an Orange march on Easter Monday. Locals blocked the road with boulders and farm machinery, but the RUC forced the march through eventually. At Easter 1958, 300 RUC men again forced a march through (see Farrell 1978, pp. 207-8, 213). Although the local nationalists suffered as a result of this annual invasion, not everyone was so unfortunate. Faulkner, like Trimble 40 years later, enhanced his public profile as a staunch unionist, a fact that led to his rapid rise in the party.
In 1968, two weeks before the Twelfth, Dungiven Orangemen marched without incident through the town to unveil their new banner. Two weeks later, nationalists blocked the local lodge as it marched en route to the Twelfth celebrations in Limavady. Many of the demonstrators were arrested. There was minor vandalism against the local Orange hall. So, next day, B Specials were sent to guard the hall; the District Commander of the B Specials also happened to be the Master of the Dungiven Orange Lodge whose march initially sparked off the trouble. That evening, the police baton charged a crowd of nationalists leaving a dance, killing 66 year old Francis McCloskey (see Miller 1978, pp.144-5). An Orange march was the trigger for one of the first deaths of the current 'troubles'.
When a civil rights march was announced for Derry on the 5th of October 1968 the Minister of Home Affairs at the time, William Craig, used the excuse of an alleged Apprentice Boys parade to ban both marches, a favourite tactic before and since.
One year on and the Apprentice Boys parade in Derry in August 1969 sparked off the Battle of the Bogside which was to eventually lead to the introduction of British troops following the most serious rioting in almost 50 years in Derry, Belfast and elsewhere in the North. The August parades were subsequently banned in 1970 and 1971. In 1972 the Apprentice Boys abandoned their attempt to parade across the bridge which had been blocked by British soldiers. A rally was held in the Waterside and addressed by the Rev. Ian Paisley.
The myth exists in some quarters that there was a 'golden age' in the 1950s and the 1960s when Orange marches were just fun, when even nationalists went to watch and when no nationalist had any objection to marches in their areas. That myth does not match the reality.Back to top
Direct Rule and the Orders
The explicitly political role of the Loyal Orders did not end with the demise of the 'Orange State'. To this day they continue to influence unionist politics both at the centre and the extremes.
With the abolition of the Stormont parliament in 1972 and direct rule imposed from London, the monolith that was Ulster Unionism fragmented. Since the late sixties power was no longer in the hands of a single united Unionist Party. The role of the Order, as always in times of crisis, was to unite unionism and oppose concessions to nationalists. Months before the demise of Stormont the Scottish Grand Secretary, John Adam, trawled Orange lodges in Scotland looking for volunteers with military experience to "go to Ulster to fight". Thousands are alleged to have 'answered the call' though the UVF said "it did not yet need them"(Bruce, 1992, p.157). In a speech to the Oxford Union the Grand Master of the Order, Martin Smyth MP, compared the loss of Stormont to "the people of Prague when they wakened one morning to find Russian tanks on their streets". (Did he subconsciously equate the Irish with the Czechs and the British with the Russians ?) He went on suggest to that Direct Rule was not regarded as "lawful government" in an ominous warning of things to come (Clayton,1996, p.45).
Meanwhile the Orange Order continued to parade. In June 1972, while a fragile cease-fire disintegrated during a confrontation in the Lenadoon area of Belfast, word came through that the British Army had forced an Orange parade through the Catholic Tunnel area of Portadown (Coogan,1995, p.150). The news was seen as further evidence of a breach of the cease-fire. The rerouting controversy was not limited to the Portadown area. Guelke notes that for nationalists "conflicts with the British Army over such sensitive issues as the routes of Orange Order marches provided an additional source of alienation from the British authorities" (Dunne, 1995, p.116).
The first attempt by Downing St to hand some degree of power back to political parties in the North came with the publication of a White paper on a proposed new power sharing agreement between Unionists and the nationalist SDLP which was to include an 'Irish dimension'. The intention was to isolate the IRA. The Orange Order rejected the White Paper out of hand (Buckland, 1981, p.167). On December 3 1973 the Orange Order organised a meeting at the Ulster Hall together with the semi-fascist Vanguard movement, led by William Craig, (and whose deputy leader was David Trimble). Also present was Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party and the anti-power sharing faction of the Ulster Unionist Party (Bew, 1993, p.72). The loose right-wing alliance which emerged, the United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC), went on to play a major role in the defeat of the 1974 power sharing executive. Staying with the eastern European theme the official organ of the Orange Order, the Orange Standard, called the power sharing experiment (Sunningdale) "the first Western example of Iron Curtain treatment of a satellite" (Orange Standard, February, 1974). In order to co-ordinate opposition the UUUC went on to join a larger pan-Unionist front including at least seven loyalist paramilitary groups (Coogan,1995, p.170). A strike by loyalist workers, accompanied by widespread intimidation and a sectarian murder campaign, saw the British government accede to loyalist demands and the experiment was abandoned. The British Army had again refused to move against loyalists. At the height of the strike, the Portadown UVF, in collusion with the British security service MI5 which was attempting to destabilise the Wilson Government, planted no-warning bombs in Dublin and Monaghan. Thirty three people died. One of the strike co-ordinators, Sammy Smyth, said, "I am very happy about the bombings in Dublin" (Bew and Gillespie, 1993, p.84).
In September 1975 the Vanguard leader, William Craig, proposed a 'voluntary coalition' to run the North. The UUUC, including the Order, rejected the proposal. Soon after Craig was expelled from the UUUC. At the beginning of the month four Orangemen were murdered when a group calling itself the South Armagh Republican Action Force enter an Orange hall in Newtonhamilton and opened fire.
In the mid-seventies the Apprentice Boys of Derry decided to withdraw from the Ulster Unionist Party where they had been represented on the Ulster Unionist Council since 1911. The breaking of the link with Official Unionism was not however the result of any 'depoliticisation' within the organisation. The move was prompted by the growth in influence of the Democratic Unionist Party and the resultant need to accommodate the broader 'unionist family' within the Apprentice Boys.
The 1975 Twelfth Orange parade through the Catholic Obins St and Garvaghy Rd in Portadown takes place after the area is placed under de facto curfew by the security forces. The unionist orientated Portadown News commented,
"A visitor to the town could have been excused if he had been under the impression that a fair proportion of the British Army stationed in Ulster had been drafted into the town, and an equally large proportion of strength of the RUC" (GRRC, 1996, p.22).
Meanwhile loyalist paramilitaries again attempted to flex their muscles in a political strike, in 1977. Though supported by Paisley the strike was criticised by the Order and the Ulster Unionists. The strike action failed to win widespread support and collapsed.
The 'unionist family' was to remain divided. The Order continued to call for a 'crackdown' on the IRA and a return to 'majority' (Unionist) rule. Not all emergency measures taken against the IRA were to meet with the Order's approval however. The Exclusion Orders by which entry to Britain could be denied prompted the Orange Standard to comment
"Soon the British Ulsterman may find himself as persecuted as the German Jew in the early days of Hitler, through the existence of offensive legislation such as the Exclusion Order..." (Orange Standard, July, 1976).
There was one person however whom the Orange Order did wish to have excluded. When it was announced that the Pope was to visit Ireland in 1979 the Order joined Paisley in warning the 'anti-Christ' that he was not welcome North of the border (Coogan, 1995, p.193).
Portadown again became the centre of attention in 1981 when residents attempted a sit-down protest to stop the Drumcree Orange parade. The RUC, having batoned residents off the road, allowed the parade which included the two Unionist MPs, Harold Mc Cusker and Martin Smyth, Grand Master of the Orange Lodge of Ireland. One of the 'walking brethren' was George Seawright, the controversial DUP politician who later called for Catholics to be "incinerated" and was himself assassinated by the IPLO, a splinter republican group (GRRC, 1996, p.24 and Bruce, 1986, p.144).
In 1983 the Irish Government sets up the New Ireland Forum in a renewed attempt to isolate republicans and bolster the electoral fortunes of the SDLP (Bew, 1993, p.168). When the report of the Forum was subsequently published the Orange Order added its voice to the chorus of unionist condemnation with resolutions being passed at Twelfth parades throughout the North (Coogan, 1995, p.196).
The Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985 saw a closing of the Unionist ranks, again in opposition. The Agreement set up a joint Secretariat at Maryfield in Belfast allowing the Irish Government an 'advisory role' in decision making, a move which infuriated unionists. Against a background of rioting and attacks on the RUC the Order concluded that "the Agreement and those who signed it have many sins to answer for" (Orange Standard, August, 1986). One of the 'sins' that had to be answered for was the rerouting of Orange parades away from nationalist areas of Portadown, sparking rioting between Orangemen and the RUC in 1985 and again in 1986. The banning of an Apprentice Boys parade in March 1986 in Portadown "leads to furious clashes between the RUC and loyalists.." During the clashes Keith White became the first Protestant to be killed by a plastic bullet (Bew, 1993, p.197). The homes of over 500 RUC members in loyalist areas were attacked in the controversy surrounding the Anglo-Irish Agreement and the rerouting of parades. A former SDLP mayor of Derry, Joe Fegan, called for the annual Apprentice Boys parade to be banned (Derry Journal, 13.8.1985, p.1). In a later fraternal message from the Grand Master of the Orange Lodge, Martin Smyth MP, to the Apprentice Boys of Derry, Smyth reminded the faithful that "we still resist the false claims of Popery and throw off the shackles of the Anglo Irish Diktat". (official brochure, 1988, p.4) while a Deputy Imperial Chaplain of the Orange Order, the Rev Robert Coulter, compared the Agreement to that obtained by Chamberlain at Munich and warned, "the betrayal of Chamberlain led to a blood bath and Margaret Thatcher's treachery could introduce to N.I. and Eire one of the greatest blood baths in their histories" (Derry Journal, 19.11.1985, p.12).
At the December 'Shutting of the Gates' ceremony the General Secretary of the Apprentice Boys puts the high attendance down to " the feeling of opposition to the [Anglo-Irish] Agreement and the celebrations are being used as one way of making ... [that] ... protest" (Londonderry Sentinel, 18.12.1985, p.25). Earlier that month the Apprentice Boys joined the Orange Order, Royal Black Preceptory, Official Unionist Party and the Democratic Unionist Party in a rally against the Agreement in Coleraine.
In response to the disputes surrounding parades the Public Order (N.I) Order 1987 came into force requiring prior notification of all parades.
At the 1989 Twelfth parade in Portrush the Grand Chaplain of the City of Londonderry Orange Lodge and former Moderator of the Presbyterian church, Rev. Robert Dickinson, reminded the brethren, "We again face tyranny, not only from the IRA but a deceitful Government, a European Government and the Roman Catholic Church." He went on to accuse the Archbishop of Canterbury of "hatred of Ulster Protestants" (Londonderry Sentinel, 19.7.1989, p.12).
The decision by the Apprentice Boys of Derry to apply to the International Fund for Ireland for funding sparked protests at the 1990 August parade. A number of clubs carried banners demanding, "Say No to Blood Money" while Paisley led a protest at a rally outside the courthouse where he claimed that the proposed grant of some £200,000 was "a bribe to get Protestant people involved in the Anglo-Irish Agreement" (Londonderry Sentinel, 15.8.1990, p.3). The 'Boys' deny that Paisley may be expelled from the organisation because of the protests.
On the Lower Ormeau Rd in Belfast five Catholics were murdered in a bookies shop by the UDA in February 1992. That July Orangemen march past the site of the killings and some of the marchers gave five-fingered salutes in mockery of the five dead. The Secretary of State, Patrick Mayhew, condemned the actions of some of the marchers saying they, " would have disgraced a tribe of cannibals" but then allowed further parades by the Loyal Orders along the Lower Ormeau Rd over the next two months. In the week leading up to the July parade Orange spokesmen repeated that they could not understand why Catholic residents of the area are offended. Earlier that same week, Archie Mc Kelvey, an Orangeman of over 40 years standing was expelled from the Order for having attended Catholic church services (Sunday Life, 5.7.1992, p.33). Riots which accompany the annual Twelfth parades in 1992 result in the death of Kieran Abram. At the trial for manslaughter of three men accused of involvement in his death Justice Mc Collum said of the Twelfth, "hatred and antagonism are aroused, and the rituals surrounding the activities of those preparing for what is supposed to be a celebration, reflect the awakening and also the encouragement of those feelings of hatred and antagonism" (Londonderry Sentinel, 29.12.1994, p.7). The Grand Lodge of Ireland reacted to the comments with "incredulity".
The publication of the Downing Street Declaration prompted Brother Melvin McKendry to warn readers of the Orange Standard "... when will the majority of people in Northern Ireland realise that while they wish to be British, that the Queen, the Government, and the entire opposition in Parliament don't want them as part of Britain." which meant in effect, "Goodbye Northern Ireland, we are rewarding your loyalty to our Queen and our country by giving you to Albert Reynolds and the terrorists" (Clayton, 1996, pp.187, 188). The Loyal Orders were not however content with mere statements opposing the political initiatives of the period. In February 1995, the DUP called a meeting of the 'unionist family' at its east Belfast headquarters. That the DUP had convened the meeting was not unproblematic since the 'unionist family' was in dispute over just who was head of the 'family', Paisley or Molyneaux. The nine organisations who attended included the Ulster Unionists, the Popular Unionist Party, the Orange Order and the Apprentice Boys of Derry. The Governor of the latter organisation, Alistair Simpson, commented, "We, in the Apprentice Boys, have been calling for the development of a united unionist approach for some time, and last week's meeting was a welcome move in that direction" (Londonderry Sentinel, 16.2.1995, p.6).
Five months after the meeting the first stand-off began at Drumcree between Orangemen and the RUC. The Order stressed that it was a religious body and again feigned surprise as to why local Catholics should resent the parade or the organisation. The resolution passed at Drumcree that year stated, "We totally condemn the tyrannous and unnecessary interference with the peaceful procession returning from a Protestant place of worship on the Sabbath Day" (Order on Parade, 1995, p.39). One month later, in August, the Apprentice Boys of Derry were granted permission to parade the full length of the city walls, a move which sparked sit-down protests and later led to rioting. The Apprentice Boys maintained that they were merely exercising a cultural tradition. The fact that both organisations also follow a clearly political agenda was lost in a meaningless verbal maze of 'traditional church parades', 'civil and religious liberty' and the 'inalienable right to march'.
Footnote According to an article in the Irish News (18.12.96), Scotland's Perth and Kinross Council told the County Grand Lodge of the east of Scotland that an upcoming Orange march would be banned. It said, "Intolerance, bigotry and prejudice are implicit and explicit in a march of this kind."Back to top
Social Role of the Orders
This report has argued that the Loyal Orders have played a significant political role in the history of Ireland over the past 200 years. Opposition to parades can only be understood in the context of that political role. But the Orders also fulfill a social/cultural role within the Protestant community which few outside of that community are aware of. The Loyal Orders are anxious to focus on the social/cultural aspect of their organisations since to do so diverts attention away from their political involvement. It would be equally as mischievous however to simply ignore that role.
The phrase, 'Protestant community', is itself inadequate. Within the reformed churches there are members of the Church of Ireland, Presbyterian, Free Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Quakers, and other smaller churches and congregations. Writing in the Crimson Banner, the newsletter of the Apprentice Boys of Derry, the Rev. Stephen Dickinson calls for "unity among Protestants" and suggests that the "Apprentice Boys, the Orange Order, the Royal Black Preceptory offer such an opportunity to bring different strands of Protestantism together" (Crimson Banner, issue no. 7, Summer 1996, p.5). Orange publications often argue that the Protestant community lack the benefits of a single unifying church as is the case in the Catholic community. Hepburn refers to this theme of 'Protestant unity' in the 19th century and the role of the Order "linking Anglicans, Presbyterians and other Protestant denominations in one movement. Local Orange halls became the focus for 'Protestant' communities, whichever Church their members attended on a Sunday" (Hepburn, 1996, p.143). This should not be misunderstood as merely a form of political unity though that was the primary purpose. The Loyal Orders have traditionally functioned as providers of services, as organisations which 'bond' the local community (most especially the males) and as a link between the past and the present.
The Orange Standard, for instance, organ of the Orange Order, regularly publishes details of some 70 credit unions based at Orange halls, Preceptory halls and the Apprentice Boys Hall in Derry. These credit unions, with an 'Ulster British identity', are a comparatively new development but follow in the tradition of economic support networks provided by the Orders. In the past this meant 'job-lodge-job'. Employment in certain workplaces implied a willingness to join the local lodge. Alternatively, membership of the local lodge could be the passport to employment. The system, when it worked, as it did par excellence in the shipyards and engineering sector, was obviously a disaster for the Catholics who were excluded and those Protestants who did not join the Order. The working class Protestant male who took advantage of it though could hardly be blamed.
The local Orange hall continues to play a role, particularly in rural areas, in the social life of the Protestant community. An internal 1995 conference report on the 'Future of the Orange Order' suggests that "Youth clubs, Mothers groups, religious services, concerts etc. all take place in many Orange halls throughout our country" (Future, 1995, p.9) but the same report goes on to lament the fact that "Every state community centre which opens down the road from an Orange hall, every Mother and Toddler, pensioners or youth group which meets in a State-owned building, is a reproach to the Orange Order for its failure to build a solid community base" (Future, 1995, p.4). In a 1995 meeting with the Meath Peace Group , Gordon Lucy of the Ulster Society suggested that State community centres were an attempt "to minimise the Orange Order's influence..." (Meath, 1995, p.9). In Derry, the Apprentice Boys Hall, the 'Mem', is virtually the only venue available to young people from the Fountain on the west bank of the Foyle. The ever expanding 'theme pubs' in the city centre which have changed Derry night life for better or worse, are not an option for the majority of young city side Protestants because of sectarian clashes between young people in the city.
In addition the Orders are involved in charities such as the Lord Enniskillen Memorial Orphan Fund which was set up by the Grand Lodge in 1886. Both the Orange Standard and local newspapers carry regular photo stories of local lodges contributing to charities. In Donaghadee a holiday home is run specifically for members of the Junior Orange Lodges.
The social/cultural functions of the Orders are important in understanding why individuals join in the first place. For some the motivation is the wish to carry on a tradition handed down over generations, to literally wear 'the sash my father wore'. The rite of passage for the young Catholic male, especially in rural areas, may well involve the Gaelic Athletic Association. For the young Protestant male that rite of passage may lead to the Junior lodge or at a later stage to the Orange Order or Apprentice Boys of Derry. For James Galway to start his musical career in an Orange flute band in East Belfast was as natural as it would be for a young Andalucian to learn flamenco dancing. This is hardly surprising where the social life of a community revolves around the only available hall, the Orange hall and where clear advantages are attached to membership. Though this is certainly no longer the case in large deprived urban areas there is evidence that loyalist bands, of the Blood and Thunder variety, fulfill the function of linking youth culture to Orangeism (see Bell, 1990 and Jarman, 1997).
There is of course an added advantage to the social/cultural role of the Orders. When Brian Faulkner MP, Orangeman and later Stormont Prime Minister, told a meeting in Comber in 1963 that the Order allowed for employer and employee to meet on an equal basis providing for the "soundest of industrial relations" and "political stability" he was playing on a well worn 'ould Orange flute' (Boyd, 1972, p.24). From the United Irishmen to the Land League, from the Ballot Act to the 1932 Bread riots the Orders have ensured that the Protestant working class never allowed the focus of their anger to drift too far from the traditional enemies of 'popery' and 'nationalism'. In fact the very success of the 1974 loyalist workers strike sent a shiver down the Orange spine. The Order shared a common purpose with the loyalist workers in defeating the power sharing executive but were shocked at the implications. What if such power were turned against them? That Twelfth the speeches from the field warned explicitly of the "dangers of communism among Protestants" (Nelson, 1984, p.162). A full century earlier an Orange chaplain had linked the Land League with "Popery", "anarchy" and "communism", (Campbell, 1991, p.307) an allegation which surely surprised the Pope as much as it did Bakunin or Marx but one that was to be repeated when unemployed Catholics and Protestants joined forces and fought the RUC in 1932 in protest at the levels of unemployment relief. The Order impressed upon "loyal subjects of the King, the vital necessity of standing guard against communism" (Bell, G. 1976, p.104).Back to top
Bowler and the Balaclava
At the heart of the current controversy surrounding contentious parades is the refusal of the Loyal Orders to meet spokespersons from residents groups who have served sentences for 'scheduled' or 'terrorist' offences. The Orders have gone to great pains to distance themselves, the law abiding, from the lawbreakers, or more specifically, republican lawbreakers. The Orders have never formally encouraged any of the loyalist paramilitary groups. It seems certain that the majority of 'brethren' were and are opposed to sectarian attacks on their Catholic neighbours. But the relationship between those who would kill for 'Ulster' on the Eleventh night and those who would walk for 'Ulster on the Twelfth has been complex, at times contradictory, and sometimes even close.
As early as 1971 the Scottish Grand Secretary of the Orange Lodge was trawling lodges in Scotland looking for men with previous military experience "to go to Ulster to fight". The UVF however was unenthusiastic about the offer of support (Bruce, 1992, p.157). The following year members of the Order formed the paramilitary Orange Volunteers which, according to Bruce, "bombed a pub in Belfast in 1973 but otherwise did little illegal other than collect the considerable bodies of arms found in Belfast Orange Halls..." (Bruce, 1992, p.XI).
During the controversy surrounding a proposed Orange parade through the Catholic Obins St in Portadown in 1972 a "large contingent" of loyalist paramilitaries formed up in the area and "saluted as several hundred Orangemen marched through the district on their way to Drumcree" (GRRC, 1996, p.21). In the 1974 loyalist workers strike the Order co-operated in a co-ordinating committee that included "no less than seven Loyalist paramilitary groups" (Coogan, 1995, p.170). During the lifespan of this coalition of 'constitutional' unionism and paramilitary loyalism , six Catholics were killed in a loyalist bomb attack on the Rose and Crown pub in Belfast, (Bew, 1993, p.82) and thirty three died in no-warning bomb attacks in Dublin and Monaghan, the greatest number of people killed on any one day of the conflict (Coogan, 1995, p.170). Shortly after the strike ended "substantial arms finds" were made in seven Orange halls raided by the British Army. In West Belfast fourteen pistols, eighteen rifles and shotguns, four home-made mortars, six smoke grenades and five thousand rounds of ammunition were found in the caretakers house next to the Orange hall (Rolston, 1996, p.186 and Foot, 1989, p.106).
In 1976 the incestuous nature of the relationship between the UDA and the Orange Order in Scotland became apparent when the Grand Lodge attempted unsuccessfully to expel Roddy MacDonald, a leading UDA man in Scotland and lodge member after he had embarrassed Orangeism with the admission on television that he "would be happy to buy arms and ship them to Ulster". His expulsion by senior officials was blocked by three hundred delegates at a special disciplinary hearing (Bruce, 1992, p.158). When other Scottish lodge members were convicted of gun running to the UDA the Grand Lodge moved to distance itself but it was clear that a considerable gap existed and exists between the PR conscious leadership and the grassroots. In England the Orange Order suffered a "major rift" over the issue of support for loyalist paramilitaries though both English and Scottish lodges continued to provide moneys, mostly for the UVF (Bruce, 1992, p.167).
In January 1980 the Irish Independent broke a story which exposed serious allegations of sex abuse at a boys home in East Belfast called Kincora. As the story unfolded it became clear that the scandal involved the British Security Services, loyalist paramilitaries, senior Unionist politicians and the Orange Order. Chris Moore, a journalist with UTV, has recently published a book on the subject.
According to Moore, in the mid 1960s the British Intelligence services "almost certainly" prompted one of their contacts in Belfast, William Mc Grath, to set up "his own Orange ginger group". Mc Grath, who believed that Ulster's Protestants were one of the lost tribes of Israel, was a passionate opponent of the three 'isms', Romanism, republicanism and communism. A convincing orator, Mc Grath went on to develop friendships and influence with the Who's Who of Ulster unionism and Orangeism. He set up Tara, a shadowy ginger group within the Orange Order which was to evolve into a paramilitary group that prepared its supporters for the 'Doomsday' scenario of a British withdrawal. In August 1971 Mc Grath authored and distributed a leaflet calling for the various vigilante groups operating in the Belfast area to come together in "platoons of twenty under the command of someone capable". Thus UDA was born. As Moore remarks, " Here we had a man under the ever-watchful control of MI5 writing a recruiting leaflet for an organisation which grew to be one of the most violent groups to operate during twenty five bloody years in Northern Ireland." Mc Grath also set up his own Orange lodge which he insisted be renamed Ireland's Heritage LOL 1303. His links to the Order went beyond the monthly lodge and district meetings however. By the late sixties his "influence within Belfast Orangeism was on the increase" and he had "gained the ear of some of the city's leading Orangemen". One of those who is said to have secretly funded Mc Grath was Sir Knox Cunningham, a leading member of the Orange Order, Apprentice Boys, Ulster Unionist Council, former member of the National Executive of the Conservative Party from 1959-1966, Parliamentary Private Secretary to Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and MP for Antrim South from 1955-1970. His election agent, James Molyneaux, Imperial Grand Master of the Royal Black Preceptory, Deputy Grand Master of the Orange Order and former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, inherited Cunninghams parliamentary seat which he held until 1997 when he resigned. Molyneaux, Paisley and many others with influence in Orange and Unionist circles were aware of Tara, knew Mc Grath, and had been warned of allegations about his paeodophile tendencies. In addition to his profuse political activities Mc Grath went on to become Housemaster in a children's home in 1971 where he joined two other employees in the sexual abuse of boys under their care. A year after the story first broke in 1980 Mc Grath was convicted along with five other individuals and Kincora was closed.
Other scandals have hit the headlines in Ireland in recent years. Those in positions of authority refusing to listen. Abuse continuing for years, even decades. Children in institutions victimised. What makes the Kincora scandal unique however, apart from the fact that MI5 obstructed two investigations into it, was the fact that senior members of the Security Services, the Unionist parties and the Orange Order colluded, covered up and prevaricated despite decades of allegations against a man who "exerted a powerful influence on the development of Unionism in the 1970s and 1980s." (Moore). The threat that details might emerge of a boys home in East Belfast where influential people came to visit, that threat became itself part of the murkier side of politics here.
The links between the Order and Tara, it may be argued, are part of the early history of the conflict. Not so the relationship between the Portadown UVF leader Billy Wright (King Rat) and certain members of the Portadown District Orange Lodge. In the first Drumcree stand-off in 1995 Wright was active in organising barricades in the Charles St area of the town while the brethren confronted the RUC at the top of the Garvaghy Rd. As Drumcree II developed Wright, whose Mid-Ulster UVF was responsible for the deaths of over 42 Catholics in the area since 1989 (Irish News, 6.9.1996, p.1), was consulting with members of the Portadown District Lodge including the MP for the area, David Trimble. While Wright showed solidarity with local Orangemen his colleagues in the Mid-Ulster UVF kidnapped a local Catholic taxi driver, Michael Mc Goldrick, and shot him in the head. When Wright was subsequently ordered to leave the country by the Combined Loyalist Military Command a rally was held to show support for the 'local hero'. Wright was joined on the platform by William Mc Crea, then DUP MP for Mid-Ulster and member of the Apprentice Boys of Derry and Worshipful Master Harold Gracey of the Portadown District Lodge of the Orange Order.
Though Billy Wright has since been jailed for eight years his name still resonates with some members of the Order. In March 1997 the Master of a Scottish Orange Lodge, Alexander Mc Kinlay, admitted to a Scottish court that he had threatened a witness in an attempt to quash the case against Lindsay Robb, a loyalist politician found guilty of conspiracy to smuggle arms to the UVF. Mc Kinlay told the prosecution witness that Billy Wright would "deal with his family" (Irish News, 11.3.1997, p.12).Back to top
For many the most obvious manifestation of the ambiguous relationship between the Loyal Orders and loyalist paramilitaries is the participation of some of the 'blood and thunder' or 'kick the Pope' bands on parades. Since 1986 all bands that are hired by the Orange Order are required to sign a contract stipulating good behaviour and regulating drumming, uniforms, alcohol usage etc. An Orange publication, has pointed out that "In Armagh District one band was prevented from parading as it carried a UVF flag while in 1985 a band carrying a UVF flag was refused permission to join the Royal Black procession in Lisburn" (Order on Parade, 1995, p.15). The message doesn't appear to have got through despite the undoubted attempts by some in the Loyal Orders to address the problem. Over several years now the Shutting of the Gates ceremony organised by the Apprentice Boys in Derry has included a UDA colour party carrying UFF flags and wearing paramilitary uniforms. In December 1996 SDLP councillor Mark Durkan commented , "Those responsible for organising the parade will be seen by many as having hosted this ugly and sinister display" (Derry Journal, 17.12.1996). Following this incident the Apprentice Boys promised an investigation but such displays have been taking place for several years. The August Apprentice Boys parade has attracted its fair share of paramilitary trappings over the years. Bands with UVF insignia are so regular as to have earned the description 'traditional'. In 1993 a band 'thought to be close to the thinking of the UDA' from Rathcoole near Belfast clashed with another band 'close to the thinking of the UVF' from the Shankill while waiting to join the main Apprentice Boys parade near the railway station in Derry. The UVF banner was broken in the scuffles that followed and several bandsmen were injured.
The Orders will argue that bandsmen are often not themselves members of the Loyal Orders and that attempts are made to control their conduct. The ambiguity of the relationship though is highlighted in the light-hearted nature of an article in A Celebration of the Orange Institution about the 'blood and thunder' bands. The uglier side of many of the bands becomes clear in 'band parades' which are outside the control of the Orders. A report in the Fermanagh based Impartial Reporter on clashes between local youths and bandsmen during such an event in Enniskillen refers to 18 bands parading "many of them carrying banners bearing the emblems and badges of organisations including the UDA, UFF, UVF and loyalist prisoner groups" (Impartial Reporter, 26.9.1996, p.1). One of the bands that paraded included the colour party from the 'South East Antrim Ulster Freedom Fighters' whose banner was confiscated by the RUC in December 1996 after the Derry parade. A Coleraine-based band named after a UVF member who blew himself up with his own bomb, the Freeman Memorial Band, was one of a number of bands which proposed to march past a Catholic chapel in Kilrea Co. Derry as a memorial mass was being held for a Catholic man shot dead by loyalists two weeks beforehand. The parade was eventually re-routed (Irish News, 14.5.1992). In Derry recently the Nelson Drive Flute Band organised an event commemorating four UVF members who died in 1975 when a bomb they had been preparing exploded prematurely. A mural and brass plague was unveiled in memory of the four men.
Jarman comments that "To an extent the autonomy of the bands has become an accepted part of unionist public unity while in private the paramilitary regalia have been regarded as an unwelcome intrusion ..." (Jarman, 1997, p.103). However unwelcome the intrusion it seems clear that the relationship of the Loyal Orders to bands and indeed to loyalist paramilitaries is a complex one. Local lodges continue to hire bands who wear their allegiances to paramilitary groups literally on their sleeves.
The Orders continually reiterate that they cannot meet with representatives of residents groups who have prior convictions. Given the relationship between the Orders and loyalist paramilitaries a less sanctimonious attitude on the issue of lawabiders and lawbreakers would be more honest and certainly more helpful.
Footnote The Apprentice Boys parades in England have not escaped controversy. The 1996 parade in Bolton attracted members of the fascist group Combat 18. The speaker at the rally, Gregory Campbell of the DUP, denied that the ' Boys' had links with the fascist group. A spokesperson for the anti-fascist magazine, Searchlight, revealed that the "Apprentice Boys had a similar march in London last year with over 150 Combat 18 stewards." Photos of the 'Boys' and Combat 18 members appeared at the time in Searchlight magazine. The spokesperson for the Apprentice Boys in England, John Mc Dowell, said, "We would prefer not to have them along" (Irish News, 12.4.1996, p.1 and Derry Journal, 16.4.1996, p.7). The history of links between English fascists and Ulster loyalists has usually been fairly one-sided with English fascists attempting to woo decidedly cool loyalists.Back to top
Orders and the Churches: an Unholy Alliance?
Few images encapsulated the dilemma faced by Protestant churches in Ireland today as clearly as that of the hundreds of Orangemen gathered at the Church of Ireland at Drumcree in July 1995 and again in 1996. Many within the Church of Ireland, especially in the South, were offended by that image. Archbishop Eames, the Church of Ireland Primate, explained that it was not in his power or in the power of the governing body of the church, the Synod, to forbid the use of church property to the Loyal Orders. That power rests with the local congregation. The Church of Ireland, Methodist and Presbyterian churches pride themselves on the local democratic structures which exist within their organisations. Congregations reflect their own ethos to a certain degree. Catholics can only look on in envy. But the dilemma is that that ethos may, depending on the congregation, have an orange tinge to it. The problem didn't begin of course with the outward parade of Portadown District Lodge to Drumcree Church in July 1995.
Opposition to the 'unholy alliance' of Loyal Orders and Protestant churches can be traced back to the very beginnings of Orangeism. The leadership of the United Irishmen were Presbyterian at a time when membership of the Orange Order was largely Church of Ireland. But by far the most formidable critic to emerge in the last century was the land reforming Home Ruler, the Rev. James Brown Armour of Ballymoney who railed against the "senseless fear of Romanism" during the 1893 Presbyterian Assembly. 'Armour of Ballymoney' led a minority of Dissenters who argued that Presbyterians should "not conform to Unionist orthodoxy" (Campbell, 1991, p.418). It was to be a losing battle. As the Home Rule debate gathered momentum in the 1880s Presbyterians joined the Loyal Orders in large numbers. The political alliances which had existed until that time between liberal Presbyterians and Catholics in areas like Derry (seeLacy and Murphy) were not to reemerge in the North.
With the creation of a "Protestant State for a Protestant people" in the North (Craigavon) and a "Catholic Nation ..." in the South (De Valera) the Christian churches maintained a comfortable distance to each other. It was an acceptable situation both for right-wing Catholics and the Loyal Orders. This status quo was not to be challenged until the 1960s with the growth of the ecumenical movement. The Loyal Orders argued (as they continue to do) that they were in fact the true 'ecumenists' since they unite the Christian churches. By this definition the Catholic church is not Christian. Many within the Protestant churches disagreed. Purdie highlighted many examples. In 1964 the Methodist Record called on readers to reject bigotry while the Rev. Eric Gallagher, who was later to become President of the Methodist church, spoke out against "Protestant fascism". The Presbyterian church defended the hand of friendship which had been extended to Catholics and denied the allegation echoed in Twelfth resolutions of a "Romeward trend". The Church of Ireland Gazette rallied in support of a curate in Sandy Row who had brought young people from the area to see a Catholic church. "In pursuing ecumenism," it was noted " leaders of the Protestant churches stood up to the Orange Order" but this was to have consequences given that the "Orange Order's strong opposition to ecumenism seriously undermined the official leaders of the Protestant churches" (Purdie, 1990, pp.19-21).
Over thirty years on and Catholics and Protestants walk together each year from St Columb's Church of Ireland Cathedral to St Eugene's Catholic Cathedral in Derry for joint services during the Two Cathedrals Festival. This is without doubt an event which would have been unthinkable in the early 1960s. But the sting, as always, is in the tail. Each year in August and December the Apprentice Boys of Derry, an organisation with a clearly political agenda, holds commemorative parades in the city which are frequently marked by sectarian incidents, paramilitary displays and drunkenness. A church service in the same St Columb's Cathedral is an integral part of the ceremonies. The dilemma of Drumcree is replicated throughout the North.Back to top
Speaking to the Diocesan Synod in Derry on 23 October 1996 Bishop Mehaffey spoke of the divisions within the Church of Ireland on the issue of Drumcree which, he argued, was "a defining moment." He referred to those within the church who "give their total support to traditional marches" and those who believe "this association", between the churches and the Loyal Orders, "should be seriously questioned and indeed severed." Speaking several months earlier the Church of Ireland Primate Dr Eames said, "It is a form of blasphemy if, following a religious service, those who have attended it engage in behaviour which makes a mockery of such a service" (Londonderry Sentinel, 8.5.1996). Likewise the Church of Ireland Gazette which pulled no punches in an editorial following Drumcree II when it asked, "What was the role of the Church in yet again providing a venue for a church service given the dangerous stand-off at Drumcree the previous year" (Irish News, 2.9.1996, p.5). The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, Rev. Walton Empey spoke of the "groundswell of anger, frustration, bitterness and hurt" felt by church members in the Republic following Drumcree (Irish Times, 23.10.1996, p.3).
In fairness to the church leaders it must be understood that challenging the links which exist with the Loyal Orders threatens the very unity of those churches. The June 1997 issue of the Orange Standard leads with the banner headline, "Protestant Churches must stand up for their people," the clear implication being that they are no longer doing so from an orange perspective. Inside the paper a further article is headlined, "Church of Ireland in South is Republican in ethos, Unionist claims" and goes on to detail Ulster Unionist John Hunter's claims that there are "two Church of Irelands in the island today." Writing in the Crimson Banner, the newsletter of the Apprentice Boys, the Rev. Stephen Dickinson argues for greater involvement by ministers in the Loyal Orders "being wholeheartedly for God first and then for Ulster as well" (Crimson Banner, issue no.7, Summer 1996, p.5). For those in the Protestant churches who don't believe that the three wise men of biblical fame were Orangemen from Ballymena, the challenge of creating distance between themselves and the Loyal Orders is daunting. The fate of the Presbyterian Church minister who left his Limavady diocese following the 'revelation' that he had extended the hand of friendship to the local Catholic priest in the 1980s is a salutary reminder to those who would 'protest' the link to the Orders in the true Protestant tradition of Martin Luther.
The minutes of the General Half-Yearly Meeting of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland for December 1995 includes, from page 31 to 35, a list of the Grand Officers for the year 1995-96. Sixty three of those listed are ministers of religion from the Grand Master, the Rev. Martin Smyth, down through Assistant and Deputy Grand Masters, Grand and Deputy Grand Chaplains and last but not least , the Librarian. The journalist, Tom Mc Gurk, has written of the courageous steps taken by the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa when it was challenged to review its relationship with the Broderbond and he asks the question of the Church of Ireland, "Will they have the courage to finally disentangle themselves from organisations which give public and triumphalist expression to a sectarianism which Dr Eames characterised at the Synod as 'the real sickness in Northern Ireland' " (Sunday Business Post, 18.5.1997, p.26).Back to top
The Law and the Order
The admission by the Chief Constable of the RUC, Ronnie Flanagan, that he had resigned from the Masonic Order "so people would trust him to be impartial" (Irish News, 4.11.1996, p.1) raised the entire question of RUC membership of secretive organisations such as the Loyal Orders. Shortly after the Chief Constable's admission the Pat Finucane Centre wrote to the Police Authority requesting statistics on cross-membership of members of the Authority itself and the RUC in the Loyal Orders. In reply we were informed that "members (of the Police Authority) are not required to declare their membership of the organisations you refer to ..." (Police Authority, 15.1.1997). The second part of our query referred to the RUC but this was simply ignored by the Authority. The RUC does not require officers to declare membership of the Loyal Orders. In August 1996 the Irish News claimed that a Catholic RUC man had contacted them, presented identification and alleged that Catholic officers were deliberately excluded from serving during disturbances in Derry. He went on to allege that "policemen deployed at the controversial Apprentice Boys parade route were selected because 'they are Protestants, members of the Orange Order or Masons' . Catholic officers were not deployed because they "would only witness colleagues gung-ho at the prospect of firing plastic bullets" (Irish News, 10.8.1996). The RUC rejected the claims.
During the summer of 1996 a total of seven RUC officers were suspended on full pay for their involvement in Orange Order protests. Four of the men, including a sergeant, had taken part in a Royal Black Institution parade in Fermanagh. Following a query from the Pat Finucane Centre in April 1997 as to how the RUC could justify the lengthy suspensions on full pay we were informed two days later that a press statement was pending. The men were reinstated though an internal inquiry is still pending (Irish News, 18.4.1997). Three of the other suspended officers are reported to be from the North Down area and one of them has been charged with a criminal offence in connection with loyalists protests in the summer of 1996. The suspensions give the impression that the RUC is tackling the issue. In fact they were forced to do so following a January 1996 judicial decision which upheld the right of the RUC to discipline an officer who had taken part in both Orange and Apprentice Boys parades. At issue was not membership of the Orders per se. The officer in question, Billy Stewart, had been told by an Assistant Chief Constable that "there was no problem with going on parade as long as he was not in a prominent position and his picture did not appear in the newspapers" (Crimson Banner, issue no. 6, Spring 1996, p.5). The Apprentice Boys, from whose newsletter the above quote is taken, took issue with the RUC and judicial handling of the case. If membership is not contrary to RUC regulations how can the public manifestation of membership, i.e. parading, be contrary to regulations ? The 'Boys' have a valid point.
The former chairman of the Police Authority, David Cook, who was sacked by the former Secretary of State, has urged a registry of names of RUC men involved in organisations such as the Orange Order. When this was suggested by him to the Authority it was rejected by a majority of members (Irish Times, 11.11.1996). It emerged in 1996 that two members of the Police Authority were themselves members of the Loyal Orders after one of them was said to have been involved in Drumcree related loyalist protests. The issue of why a registry of members would be helpful has never been explained. Cook suggests that it would be "a most useful public declaration of impartiality by the police." Why? The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) in Britain proposed such a scheme following public unease about the influence of Masons among senior police officers (Irish News, 23.7.1996, p.1). As many as a quarter of chief constables in Britain may be in the freemasons according to the vice-chairman of the ACPO (Irish News, 30.1.1997). Just how a public declaration of membership would be of benefit to the public remains a mystery. The real problem lies with the issue of membership itself. The Loyal Orders are political organisations who stand in determined opposition to the civil and religious liberties of some 45% of the population in the North of Ireland. So just how many RUC officers are members of the Loyal Orders?
A former member of the Police Authority, Chris Ryder, who was also sacked by the former Secretary of State, writing of the stand-off at Drumcree in 1996 said, " ..the personal allegiance of policemen and women was brought close to breaking point. Some officers were indeed members of the Orange Order and others had close family or relatives as members.' During the stand-off there were people on both sides of that confrontation who were blood relatives' one senior officer said ." (Irish News, 23.6.1997, p.20). The point regarding "close family or relatives" is important. Given the number of members and the fact that both the Loyal Orders and the Security Forces are drawn from the same community it would be surprising if RUC officers did not count loyal brethren among their circle of friends and family. No one knows, not even the Orders, how widespread membership is among the RUC . It is possible however to get some idea of percentages from the Orange Roll of Honour published in the November 1996 issue of the Orange Standard and again updated in the February 1997 issue. The Roll lists the 159 members of Orange Order who lost their lives in the past 28 years as a result of the conflict. Thirty nine of the dead are listed as members of the RUC. This would mean that almost 13% of all RUC members killed were also in the Orange Order. (The roll of honour does not include the Apprentice Boys) Fifty four of those killed were members of the Ulster Defence Regiment. This would represent approximately 22.5% of all UDR members who lost their lives. Four of those listed were serving in the Prison Service representing almost 15% of all prison warders who lost their lives. (cross-referenced with Bear in mind these dead: An Index of deaths from the conflict in Ireland 1969-1993)
The report of the Half-Yearly meeting of the Grand Lodge of Ireland for 1995 lists a total of 14 Grand Officers who are Justices of the Peace (JP) including several Deputy Grand Masters and both the past and present Grand Secretary. As regards those members of the judiciary above the level of JPs it is accepted that membership of the Loyal Orders is no longer advisable for any aspiring barrister hoping for a seat on the bench. Membership of the Masonic Order is more likely among the legal profession. including senior judges, in the North.Back to top
The Spirit of Drumcree
Following the 1995 stand-off at Drumcree a hard-line pressure group developed within the Orange Order called the Spirit of Drumcree. The group, lead by Joel Patton, held a meeting in the Ulster Hall in the autumn of 1995 where the Grand Lodge (GOLI) came in for considerable criticism. Several thousand attended the meeting and a report back to the Grand Lodge gives a flavour of the discontent stirring in the ranks that night in the Ulster Hall. According to the observer from the Grand Lodge the meeting was informed that the Drumcree initiative was originally a group of some 40 Orangemen who had come together following the July stand-off. Meetings had already been held in Antrim, Tyrone and Craigavon. Joel Patton's speech emphasised the need to democratise the institution, oppose rerouting of parades or any negotiation with local residents, and break the official link between the Order and the Ulster Unionist Party. The next speaker, Bro. Dowie, launched a ferocious attack on the Grand Lodge, "full of old men with one and a half brain cells between them" and asked the audience what should be done with the Grand Master, the Rev. Martin Smyth. A voice from the back of the hall replied, "Shoot him," but was told , "now no violence, not yet." The speaker, who, according to the observers from the GOLI demonstrated an 'ambivalent' attitude towards violence, went on," I was going to say that I'm glad to see that Orange halls are not the only type of Halls being burnt now, but I'd better not." In perhaps the most revealing statement of the evening the Worshipful Brother stressed that , "The Orange Institution is not a Religious Order ... it was set up to defend the Ulster Protestant People ... of course the Orange Order has its own defence organisation, the Orange Volunteers" (Report of the General Half-Yearly Meeting of the Grand Lodge, 9.12.1995, pp.10-13). The Grand Lodge was not amused.
Though there was a high turnout for the Ulster Hall meeting this had much to do with being at the right place at the right time. A number of factors played a role. Sinn Fein had held a meeting in the Hall shortly beforehand and there was a need to 'reclaim' the building. Reference was made to this at the beginning of the night. Frustration with the Grand Lodge around issues of democracy in the organisation was and is widespread. The Spirit of Drumcree was able to mobilise that frustration. Many within the rank and file were angry at the lack of support from the Grand Master, Martin Smyth MP during the Drumcree stand-off. He had not appeared at Drumcree that July and stood accused of being an Ulster Unionist in the Grand Lodge as opposed to an Orangeman in the Ulster Unionist Party. The Grand Lodge itself is said to be 'Ulster Unionist to a man'. The meeting was held at an opportune moment but, significantly, has never been repeated by the Spirit of Drumcree group. The retirement of Martin Smyth as Grand Master and his replacement with the popular Robert Saulters has taken some of the wind from Joel Patton's sails.Back to top
Unedifying and Acrimonious Bickering
The May 1997 issue of the Orange Standard leads with a plea for an end to the "unedifying and acrimonious bickering and arguing being conducted within the ranks of the Order". The 'bickering' in question concerned an agreement that had been reached between residents of the nationalist village of Dunloy, Co. Antrim and the Co. Antrim Grand Lodge which would have allowed for a limited number of parades in the village. Spirit of Drumcree supporters were outraged that negotiations had taken place. At a meeting held in Carnlea Spirit of Drumcree supporters dragged a county officer of the Lodge across a table in their enthusiasm to demonstrate opposition to any 'sell-out'. The meeting was abandoned. Another was scheduled for Cloughmills on 9 April but this time no chances were taken. As Orangemen gathered at the venue 25 RUC landrovers took up position in order to prevent further clashes between those in favour and those opposed to negotiations. At the packed meeting the County Grand Lodge was forced to abandon the agreement with Dunloy residents amid cheers of 'No surrender'. It had become clear that there were some within the Loyal Orders who would prefer not to parade at all if that meant negotiating with local residents. A second attempt by the pressure group to sabotage an agreement that had been worked out at a meeting of local people in Dromore, Co. Tyrone, a month later, was less successful. When news emerged of the compromise proposals which would allow for a parade in the village the Spirit of Drumcree faction again attempted to have the agreement overturned. Tyrone Orangemen however voted 68 to nine in favour of the compromise. It was, as the Irish News commented, a "crushing defeat" for the Spirit of Drumcree faction (Irish News, 9.5.1997).
Support for the Spirit of Drumcree is difficult to gauge at present. There is undoubtedly a strong DUP presence in the pressure group. The Protestant Telegraph, (PT) organ of the DUP, praised the group as having "sent a wind of change blowing through the Orange Order" (PT, Dec/Jan 1995/96, p.3) though it would wrong to say that it is controlled by the DUP. Joel Patton is not a member of the DUP. Support is strongest in rural areas of North Antrim and Mid-Ulster but weak in the urban centres of Belfast and Derry. Robert Saulters leadership has defused some of the antipathy among the grass roots towards the Grand Lodge. There are also those within the Orange Order who regard the Drumcree stand-offs and by implication, the Spirit of Drumcree, as unmitigated disasters both in terms of public relations and in regard to their own preference to avoid confrontations with their Catholic neighbours or the RUC. Time will tell how this internal struggle for the hearts and minds of grassroots Orangeism will pan out.Back to top