I am amazed at the amazement of the Rev Mervyn Gibson (Writeback 17 November). The UTV Programme ‘Law and the Order’ should not have amazed anyone who takes a keen interest in the affairs of the Orange Institution. It certainly did not amaze your Columnist Janet Devlin (18 November), who also recognised the ‘bleak future’ the Orange Order was facing.
The Rev Gibson appears to have missed the two points of substance which the programme highlighted. First the fact that those on the receiving end of ‘our justice system’ – having been found guilty of criminal offences were allowed to remain in the Orange Order, contrary to the Orders’ own rules, and in spite of public statements to the fact that they would be expelled:
Anyone convicted of a criminal offence is automatically expelled from the Institution.
– Denis Watson, Grand Secretary, Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland. (BBC Spotlight 17th October 2000)
Secondly, the now widespread realization, that there are members of paramilitary groups, who are still also members of the Orange Order. This in spite of spokespersons for the Institution in the past claiming that:
Our rules are quite explicit. If anyone is involved in paramilitary activity they will be disciplined by expulsion from the order, you can’t be a member of the Order and a loyalist paramilitary group. (2nd November 1999)
Neither of these two matters of substance were either acknowledged or addressed by the spokesperson for the Institution on the programme.
Rev Brian Kennaway
Author:- ‘The Orange Order: A Tradition Betrayed’