looks set to become Orangeflop unless the Order
uses its £100,000 Government cash to implement
a root and branch re-organisation of the movement.
uphill struggle facing the Protestant Loyal Orders
comes hot on the heels that the organisers of the
Apprentice Boys' Maiden City Festival in Derry have
called off this year's event because endless
layers of bureaucracy delayed the festival's
there could be more trouble ahead for the Orange
Order with rumours that Protestants want to abandon
the Order in favour of the more overtly religious
Royal Black Institution.
Marching Season has now reached its halfway mark
where Protestants swop their Orange sashes for Black
collarettes in the build up to Black Saturday
the last Saturday in August which officially brings
the traditional season to a finale.
this year's Twelfth passed off relatively incident-free,
Orange bosses still need a massive charm offensive
with Protestantism's middle class if Orangefest
is to avoid the pitfall of becoming a huge family
flop leaving the Order's leadership either red-faced
with embarrassment or purple with rage!
Because the Order will fail to take account of the
cultural differences between Belfast Orangeism and
rural Protestant Ulster Orangeism.
Black Institution has largely been able to sidestep
much of the parading confrontation which has befallen
the Orange, leading to questions if it is possible
to join the Black without having to be in the Orange
present, Orangemen have to hold the Order's highest
degree, the Arch Purple, before they can be considered
for membership of the exclusively male Black.
rules were changed so that Protestants could join
the Black only, it could trigger a mass exodus from
the best way for the Order to spend its £100,000
gift is for Orangeism's ruling body, the Grand Lodge
of Ireland, to study the success of the annual Orange
parade in the tranquil Donegal coastal village of
generations, Southern Orange members from the Ulster
provincial border counties have held their traditional
Boyne commemoration in the peaceful, isolated village
on the Saturday before the Twelfth.
the Drumcree saga in Portadown, which has been rumbling
since 1995, and continued confrontations between
Order members and nationalist residents' groups
across the North, the annual Rossnowlagh 'Dander'
has become a haven of rest for middle class Orangeism.
middle class, rural Orangeism has succeeded in developing
a true Orangefest where urban, working class Northern
Orangeism has failed.
popularity of the Rossnowlagh Orangefest is built
on a number of factors, with the anchor being an
emphasis on family fun on the beach. Its the roaring
of the waves, not the thunder of the Orange drums
which has primary importance for the organisers.
factors include the short route of just over
a mile, making the commemoration a gentle dander
rather than a demonstration march.
of place is given to pipe bands and silver marching
bands rather than the deafening beat of the popular
Blood and Thunder Northern flute bands, often dubbed
Kick The Pope bands in Protestant folklore.
and religious tunes are mostly played by the bands
instead of the traditional ear-shattering renderings
of the Protestant party tunes, such as The Sash
and Derry's Walls. Likewise, there is a frowning
on anyone especially Orange or band members
smelling of alcholol.
importantly, there are no political speeches at
Rossnowlagh. It is a religious event which commemorates
the best aspects of the Biblical Christian faith
not the triumphalism of political Protestantism
bashing the Good Friday Agreement, the Blair Goverrnment,
Dublin, the Ulster Unionists and any politician
who talks about power-sharing with republicans.
the Home Rule crisis at the start of the 20th century,
Orangeism was the social cement between the ruling
Unionist aristocracy and ordinary Protestant working
a century later, there are two clearly defined types
of Northern Orange member the rural, middle
class religious Unionist, and the urban, working
class secular Loyalist. The latter dominates Belfast
it even dreams of making Orangefest a cross-community
celebration, the Belfast leadership must come up
with a plan to attract middle class Protestants
back to the Order. Belfast Orangeism needs to implement
a Rossnowlagh Solution.
the smaller, pro-Paisleyite Independent Orange Order
has managed to wipe the eye of the Mother Order
by staging two peaceful marches at the River Boyne
itself both a far cry from the planned Love
Ulster march in Dublin earlier this year which was
marred by large-scale city centre rioting.
the Orangefest organisers have set themselves a
task almost as difficult as that faced by King Billy
trying to get his troops across the river Boyne
and up the steep banks to attack the Jacobites.
the solution be to implement the success of Rossnowlagh?
This would include:
up the enormous Belfast demonstration into smaller
the Twelfth out of the city to isolated rural
the Kick The Pope bands to play hymns;
politicals speeches and focus on purely Biblical
banners or flags with perceived paramilitary emblems.
Before invitations are even considered for the Catholic
community to participate in the Twelfth, Orangeism
needs to firstly win back the trust and confidence
of the Protestant middle class.