Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 23 November 2014

Twelfth tension: What do Orangemen think about the Ardoyne parade crisis?

The stand-off between loyalists and police in north Belfast last year. In advance of this year's Twelfth march in the same area, the political parties could only agree a brief, bland statement urging adherence to the rule of law by both marchers and protesters
The stand-off between loyalists and police in north Belfast last year
Ian Stevenson, Ballymoney
Alastair McCracken, Lisburn
George Duddy, Coleraine

Why we belong to the Orange Order and our views on the continuing parades impasses in north Belfast.

George Duddy, Coleraine

Why I'm in the Orange...

"It means a great deal to me, the customs and traditions of the institution. It's given me a sense of history; my own history, the Protestant, Reformed faith, and the Christian principles the institution upholds. It's also given me opportunities, there's the Christian aspect and the social aspect."

On Ardoyne...

"I've been up to north Belfast and I know a number of members in and around the area. I have sympathies with those people in north Belfast. They see their culture and religious liberties being eroded for no real reason other than what I see and hear is religious intolerance. There is a group of people bent on demonising the Orange Institution."

Ian Stevenson, Ballymoney

Why I'm in the Orange...

"It is good to be in an organisation which brings together people from all Unionist perspectives, people who may not share the same views on other occasions but who can interact in the organisation in this way."

On Ardoyne...

"There are parades issues in Dunloy and Rasharkin as well. Unfortunately, from Drumcree it seemed to be that the people who shouted the loudest or people who make the most bother won the day rightly or wrongly, and I think that transferred up to Belfast."

Jackie Crawford, Maghera

Why I'm in the Orange...

"I am 73 now and have been an Orangeman since I was 16. I enjoy it. If you are a great Orangeman you would be a Christian, it is a Christian organisation, but I know there are a lot of Orangemen who don't follow that up. That's the reason I joined."

On Ardoyne...

"I can't comment on it because I am not up there. I don't know anything about it, around my own doors yes, but I don't know anything about up there."

Bill Kennedy, Armoy

Why I'm in the Orange...

"I have been a member since I was in my teens and always found it a good organisation. I always looked forward to the meetings and there was never anything controversial in our lodge. We have respect for Roman Catholics and treat them with respect. It was something we were brought up with."

On Ardoyne...

"My personal opinion is that it's not good. It's not good for Northern Ireland, for the Order, and I think it's a very bad situation. Everybody seems to be in a cul-de-sac with what appears to be no way out. The best way forward is dialogue and there has to be an end to it."

Jonny Miller, Lisburn

Why I'm in the Orange...

"The Orange Order has been in my family for generations. It is brilliant. It is not a case of just walking down a road, you get to meet new people from different backgrounds. You make new friendships and it opens up opportunities. It is about protecting and expressing our culture."

On Ardoyne...

"I am absolutely disgusted. Orange parades are on British roads and we are not doing anything offensive. I have friends from the nationalist community who come to parades. I don't feel as if I am rubbing my religion in people's faces."

Paul McLean, Tobermore

Why I'm in the Orange...

"I always thought that it was a very dignified and organised grouping and I've always enjoyed seeing the members taking part in parades. I am a born-again Christian and that is embedded in Orangeism, and I believe it also means civil and religious liberty for all, and those are things I aspire to."

On Ardoyne...

"I might not agree with everybody in their analysis but I believe there is a small minority of people who are pot-stirring the situation for their own political ends. In Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal, at the weekend, which is a predominantly nationalist area, we saw a fantastic parade where both the County Council and the local people saw the parade as an opportunity to express diversity and take advantage of the tourism that it provides."

George Shiels, Maghera

Why I'm in the Orange...

"There is the religious side to the order and there is the civil liberty side. The organisation was fostered over the years on civil and religious liberty and people need to realise what that means. Key to this is the religious element of the Protestant faith, and I am not saying that with any malice to any other faith."

On Ardoyne...

"I think you just have to look at the freedom and liberty which was given to the Orangemen who attended the parade in Rossnowlagh at the weekend. Why couldn't the people of north Belfast also adopt that standpoint and allow a bit of toleration for all the few minutes that it takes for the parade to go past."

Roger Gardiner, Markethill

Why I'm in the Orange...

"For religious and cultural reasons. It's an expression of our Protestant culture. Particularly in rural areas it's the backbone of our community. Lots of halls are used for community events, not just Order events. It's very much central in the community."

On Ardoyne...

"Certainly, locally, I don't see an appetite for protests of blocking the roads or anything of that nature. Obviously, we would be guided by Grand Lodge and I understand there will be a meeting tomorrow night. From speaking to the guys on Sunday there is no appetite for protests because that is seen as counter-productive."

Alastair McCracken, Lisburn

Why I'm in the Orange...

"It is a long family tradition. I can trace my family to 1862. I agree with the Christian ethos and the charitable work they do. I see it as a way of showing my support for the Protestant religion and civil and religious liberty."

On Ardoyne...

"It saddens me greatly the lack of tolerance shown toward the Orange institution. The parade has been uncontentious for over 100 years and it is very saddening the institution cannot be tolerated along a main arterial route for six minutes."

David Arthurs, Ballyclare

Why I'm in the Orange...

"It means a lot to me to be able to exercise the right to my religion and beliefs. I have been brought up in a Christian family. It has been a part of my life and is something I very much enjoy. People only see the Twelfth day but there are lodge meetings and functions all-year round."

On Ardoyne...

"I am appalled. You feel for members of the Orange Order up in Twaddell Avenue. If it is good enough to walk in the morning I do not see why they cannot return in the evening."

Thomas Kerrigan, Castlederg

Why I'm in the Orange...

"My grandfather and father were always in the Orange Order so it was a tradition that was handed down through the generations.

“We have always respected the religious order which stood up for Christian principles and hopefully the tradition will continue to run through the family circle.”

On Ardoyne...

“It used to be the case that the majority led the minority but I think now the minority rules the majority. Certain people, as soon as they get one place blocked off, it spreads and they use their influence then to try and organise these things.

Somebody at the top of these organisations who are mounting protests must stand up and recognise that we have a life as well.”

Stuart Brooker, Springfield, near Enniskillen

Why I’m in the Orange...

 “There are many and varied reasons for why I am a member. It is an organisation I have always had a great interest in and passion for. It is a great institution for the Protestant community and does a great amount of good work.”

On Ardoyne...

“I think the institution as a whole is sympathetic to brethren there. I personally don’t understand the immediate geography of the area. We trust everything will go well and peacefully this year. We hope for a resolution to the issues.”

Samuel Jackson, Saintfield

Why I’m in the Orange...

 “I am a born-again Christian. I firmly believe in what the Orange Order stands for. I believe in the cultural aspect of the Orange Order, the historical aspect, and I believe it brings cohesion to the unionist community like no other organisation can. It crosses political and denominational divides within unionism.”

On Ardoyne...

“I think it is very sad it has come to that. It is an arterial route. It is passing shop fronts. It is an historic route. Where I come from, we have Twelfth demonstrations in majority Catholic areas. Ultimately, I would like to see the Orangemen get home. What is happening is wrong.”

Sammy Morrison, Dromore

Why I’m in the Orange...

 “I see the Orange Order as an organisation able to bring unity across the unionist and Protestant family. Also for religious reasons. It is dedicated to the preservation of the Lord’s day, encouraging members to read scriptures and attend a place of worship.”

On Ardoyne...

“I think it is indicative of intolerance of some people in our society that they can’t put up with a parade that lasts six minutes. The media in Northern Ireland went mad about comments made about the Muslim community. Here we have a situation were people cannot even allow their neighbours to get back to their homes.”

Craig Bothwell, Newtownards

Why I’m in the Orange...

“I was about 24 when I joined and did so because it is my Protestant culture and tradition. I enjoy it and the company. It’s nice to meet up with like-minded people and we have good craic. I feel the orange Order upholds traditional values I can adhere to and teach my family, too.”

On Ardoyne...

“It’s ridiculous that the Parades Commission can make this sort of decision. It’s hard to negotiate with people when there are two residents’ groups there. One wants to negotiate and you can sit down and have a chat, trying to come to some sort of arrangement. The other doesn’t want Orange feet on the street. What is the Order supposed to do?”

Mark McKinty, Larne

Why I’m in the Orange...

I spent time researching what it was about and what it stood for. It represents a group of people who aren’t all the same, though some would present them as that. They are from different denominations, different backgrounds but always united together. They are united in their faith together.

On Ardoyne...

I sympathise as far as I can. I think the solution is going to take a lot of people to come together with different ideas. A solution could take five to 10 years to achieve.

John Finlay, Dunloy

Why I’m in the Orange...

I believe in the Orange cause, I believe in the foundations of the Protestant faith. I’m a great believer in that and I think the Orange Order espouses that very well. My family were all associated with the Orange Institution. It’s a great fraternity for Protestants, great comradeship, and promoting the faith I believe in.

On Ardoyne...

The only people to blame are intolerant republicans who want to share power but don’t want to share a road. That’s the basic problem. Then add that to a Parades Commission which is weak.

Robert McIlroy, Bushmills

Why I’m in the Orange...

Because of its strong values, principles and Christian way. Although I didn’t come from a traditional Orange family, I have been part of the institution for almost 50 years after being introduced to it by an older member. I’m prepared to stand for my faith, which I hold dear.

On Ardoyne...

We talk about parades when we should be talking about walks. Going to church is a walk, it’s not a parade. If both communities would walk a little closer towards each other then maybe this could be resolved.

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