Repeating Mistakes of the Past

I am sure that many from the unionist community were, like myself, distraught to hear the call of the Grand Master, Edward Stephenson, yesterday to:

“encourage Orange brethren and our supporters to demonstrate their displeasure at the current situation by holding peaceful and legal protests across Northern Ireland, at times and locations of their choosing, over the coming weeks.”

Have the Grand Master and the senior officers of the Institution learned nothing but to repeat the mistakes of the past? What has “holding peaceful and legal protests” ever achieved? What guarantee can be given that they will be both ‘peaceful’ and ‘legal’? The parade on the Twelfth 2013 at this location on the Woodvale Road was neither ‘peaceful’ nor ‘legal’, leading to violence against the Crown Forces and seeing many Orangemen before the courts.

The Grand Master also alleged that many brethren “have been denied their civil and religious liberties since 1998”. I, Like many, would like to know precisely what ‘civil and religious liberty’ has been denied. The restriction of a public procession on a particular stretch of a road is NOT a denial of civil and religious liberty. The Grand Lodge itself in the past has recognised this. The Senior Grand Chaplain, Canon S.E. Long, has stated:

“The refusal to accept any restriction on Orange Order marches is not sustainable, if in the wake of that resolution there is certain to be violent confrontation, injuries, destruction of property and maybe deaths”.

The Grand Master posed the question:

“ – why can three lodges not complete their Twelfth parade, in a safe and dignified manner, up the main arterial route of the Crumlin Road to Ligoniel Orange hall?”

There are a number of answers to that question. In the first place a ‘dignified manner’ was not evidenced on the Twelfth 2013. Secondly had the ‘Road Map’ laid out by the Parades Commission been followed in 2013 there would probably have been a return parade in 2014. Thirdly Ligoniel Orange Hall does not exist – I am surprised that the Grand Master and senior officers do not realise that!

The renewed attack on the Secretary of State was hypocritical, when he stated:

“Your disgraceful U-turn not to proceed with a parading panel  – called for by the Unionist collective. . . “

The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland officers are not behind the door of doing ‘U-turns’ – or failing to keep their word! The Grand Master in his speech proclaimed that the Orange Institution is a “Christian organisation”. If that is the case then surely the words of Christ should be taken seriously. Did Jesus not say something in Luke 6:42 about taking the beam out of your own eye before you take the mote out of your brothers?

When the Orange leadership met with the leaders of the three Protestant churches on 2nd December 1998 they agreed to issue a statement encompassing the points discussed.  Had they done so they would have been supported by the three Church leaders, who agreed to issue a statement of support. But by failing to keep their word they treated the Church leaders with contempt.

Coming as it did on the same day Gerry Adams made his speech to the Ard Fheis it achieved one purpose only – It made Gerry Adams sound good!

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