Most of Orange Order say 'Catholics are IRA sympathisers'
Nationalists have reacted angrily following the publication of an academic survey of 1,500 Orangemen which showed many believe “most Catholics are IRA sympathisers”.
The study by Professor Jon Tonge of Liverpool University revealed 60% of Orange Order members surveyed thought Catholics backed republican militants.
Details of the survey were published in the book Loyal to the Core? Orangeism and Britishness in Northern Ireland.
The book is a detailed study of the Orange Order, giving historical background and grassroots views and a wealth of individual interviews with Orange leaders.
Prof Tonge claimed his findings were “depressing” and “outdated” but said it would be interesting to repeat the survey in five years’ time.
On the issue of parading, the survey showed 58% of Orangemen who replied believe they should be allowed to march through nationalist areas without any restrictions.
Only one in five believed Catholics should be consulted over parades in their areas, while 86% believed the Parades Commission should be abolished.
Other details from the survey reveal only 6% of the respondents would be happy for their son or daughter to marry a Catholic.
Over half of those interviewed agreed the Orange Order is anti-Roman Catholic, while two-thirds disagree that the republican armed campaign is over.
SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley said: “I think probably the vast majority of these people are narrow-minded and bigoted.
“I think this is a sad reflection on those who hold this particular view. We need to remember though, the majority of unionists are not in the Orange Order.”