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Orange Order members should be allowed to attend Mass: Assistant Grand Master Mervyn Gibson

By Claire Williamson

Published 05/10/2016

Rev Mervyn Gibson
Rev Mervyn Gibson

The Orange Order's Mervyn Gibson has said he would like to see its members allowed to attend Catholic Mass without the threat of discipline.

In its rules, the Orange Order does not allow members to attend or take part in a Roman Catholic Mass.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback on Wednesday senior Orangeman Mervyn Gibson said he, personally, would like to see the rule go one day.

The Assistant Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland said: "That's a rule the order has. We are a democratic organisation

"If someone feels they want to change that rule, it can be proposed and it will be debated and then voted upon. At the moment the rule is still there. Anybody who joins the institution knows that.

"Some believe it should go and some believe it should stay - but it's there."

When asked his personal opinion he said he would like to see the rule go.

"I've attended homes and wakes of Roman Catholics and republicans indeed. I've prayed for the family and with them," Rev. Gibson added.

"That rule harks back to a day when people said 'don't go into the chapel' and I accept that but equally it can be changed. And it may be changed."

He added: "I've said that it harks back to a different era in many ways. The opportunity is there for it to be changed.

Loyalists dismantle protest camp at Twaddell Avenue. Image: Pacemaker
Loyalists dismantle protest camp at Twaddell Avenue. Image: Pacemaker
Loyalists dismantle protest camp at Twaddell Avenue. Image: Pacemaker
Loyalists dismantle protest camp at Twaddell Avenue. Image: Pacemaker
Loyalists dismantle protest camp at Twaddell Avenue. Image: Pacemaker
Loyalists dismantle protest camp at Twaddell Avenue. Image: Pacemaker
Loyalists dismantle protest camp at Twaddell Avenue. Image: Pacemaker
Local Orange Order lodges marched past the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast early on Saturday morning. Photographer: Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Local Orange Order lodges marched past the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast early on Saturday morning. Photographer: Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Local Orange Order lodges marched past the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast early on Saturday morning. Photographer: Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Local Orange Order lodges marched past the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast early on Saturday morning. Photographer: Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Local Orange Order lodges marched past the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast early on Saturday morning. Photographer: Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Local Orange Order lodges marched past the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast early on Saturday morning. Photographer: Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Local Orange Order lodges marched past the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast early on Saturday morning. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 01/10/2016 The Ligoniel Lodges have held a permanent protest since July 2013 over a decision to stop their return parade past the Ardoyne shops. They have agreed to a voluntary moratorium on future return parades. The Twaddell protest camp on the interface will be dismantled following the parade Around 600 police officers are on duty in the area. Several dozen protesters from the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (Garc) gathered at the Ardoyne shops as the parade got underway. They chanted "walk of shame" as the parade passed the Ardoyne shops but dispersed peacefully after the march passed. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 01/10/2016 The Ligoniel Lodges have held a permanent protest since July 2013 over a decision to stop their return parade past the Ardoyne shops. They have agreed to a voluntary moratorium on future return parades. The Twaddell protest camp on the interface will be dismantled following the parade Around 600 police officers are on duty in the area. Several dozen protesters from the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (Garc) gathered at the Ardoyne shops as the parade got underway. They chanted "walk of shame" as the parade passed the Ardoyne shops but dispersed peacefully after the march passed. Pictured are Loyalist band members being welcomed home by their supporters. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 01/10/2016 The Ligoniel Lodges have held a permanent protest since July 2013 over a decision to stop their return parade past the Ardoyne shops. They have agreed to a voluntary moratorium on future return parades. The Twaddell protest camp on the interface will be dismantled following the parade Around 600 police officers are on duty in the area. Several dozen protesters from the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (Garc) gathered at the Ardoyne shops as the parade got underway. They chanted "walk of shame" as the parade passed the Ardoyne shops but dispersed peacefully after the march passed. Pictured are Loyalist band members being welcomed home by their supporters. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 01/10/2016 The Ligoniel Lodges have held a permanent protest since July 2013 over a decision to stop their return parade past the Ardoyne shops. They have agreed to a voluntary moratorium on future return parades. The Twaddell protest camp on the interface will be dismantled following the parade Around 600 police officers are on duty in the area. Several dozen protesters from the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (Garc) gathered at the Ardoyne shops as the parade got underway. They chanted "walk of shame" as the parade passed the Ardoyne shops but dispersed peacefully after the march passed. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 01/10/2016 The Ligoniel Lodges have held a permanent protest since July 2013 over a decision to stop their return parade past the Ardoyne shops. They have agreed to a voluntary moratorium on future return parades. The Twaddell protest camp on the interface will be dismantled following the parade Around 600 police officers are on duty in the area. Several dozen protesters from the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (Garc) gathered at the Ardoyne shops as the parade got underway. They chanted "walk of shame" as the parade passed the Ardoyne shops but dispersed peacefully after the march passed. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 01/10/2016 The Ligoniel Lodges have held a permanent protest since July 2013 over a decision to stop their return parade past the Ardoyne shops. They have agreed to a voluntary moratorium on future return parades. The Twaddell protest camp on the interface will be dismantled following the parade Around 600 police officers are on duty in the area. Several dozen protesters from the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (Garc) gathered at the Ardoyne shops as the parade got underway. They chanted "walk of shame" as the parade passed the Ardoyne shops but dispersed peacefully after the march passed. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 01/10/2016 The Ligoniel Lodges have held a permanent protest since July 2013 over a decision to stop their return parade past the Ardoyne shops. They have agreed to a voluntary moratorium on future return parades. The Twaddell protest camp on the interface will be dismantled following the parade Around 600 police officers are on duty in the area. Several dozen protesters from the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (Garc) gathered at the Ardoyne shops as the parade got underway. They chanted "walk of shame" as the parade passed the Ardoyne shops but dispersed peacefully after the march passed. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 01/10/2016 The Ligoniel Lodges have held a permanent protest since July 2013 over a decision to stop their return parade past the Ardoyne shops. They have agreed to a voluntary moratorium on future return parades. The Twaddell protest camp on the interface will be dismantled following the parade Around 600 police officers are on duty in the area. Several dozen protesters from the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (Garc) gathered at the Ardoyne shops as the parade got underway. They chanted "walk of shame" as the parade passed the Ardoyne shops but dispersed peacefully after the march passed. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye The return parade makes its way past the Ardoyne shopfront towards the finishing point. on October 1st 2016 , Northern Ireland (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye members of GARC protest at the return parade makes its way past the Ardoyne shopfront towards the finishing point on October 1st 2016 , Northern Ireland (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye The return parade makes its way past the Ardoyne shopfront towards the finishing point. on October 1st 2016 , Northern Ireland (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye The return parade makes its way past the Ardoyne shopfront towards the finishing point. on October 1st 2016 , Northern Ireland (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye The return parade makes its way past the Ardoyne shopfront towards the finishing point. on October 1st 2016 , Northern Ireland (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye The return parade makes its way past the Ardoyne shopfront towards the finishing point. on October 1st 2016 , Northern Ireland (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye The return parade makes its way past the Ardoyne shopfront towards the finishing point. on October 1st 2016 , Northern Ireland (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 1/10/2016 Mandatory Credit - Picture by Justin Kernoghan Hundreds of police officers form a security line between Nationalist protesters and Protestant bands and Orangemen - An Orange Order parade took place this morning in north Belfast as part of a deal to end a long running dispute.The Ligoniel Lodges have held a permanent protest since July 2013 over a decision to stop their return parade past the Ardoyne shops.They have agreed to a voluntary moratorium on future return parades.The Twaddell protest camp on the interface will be dismantled following the parade.Around 600 police officers are on duty in the area.Several dozen protesters from the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (Garc) gathered at the Ardoyne shops as the parade got underway.They chanted "walk of shame" as the parade passed the Ardoyne shops but dispersed peacefully after the march passed.A protest against the parade passed off peacefully on Friday evening.
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye A major police operation begins at the Ardoyne and Twaddell interface ahead of the return parade on October 1st 2016 , Northern Ireland (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
A major police operation begins at the Ardoyne and Twaddell interface ahead of the return parade on October 1st 2016 , Northern Ireland (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye A major police operation begins at the Ardoyne and Twaddell interface ahead of the return parade on October 1st 2016 , Northern Ireland (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye A major police operation begins at the Ardoyne and Twaddell interface ahead of the return parade on October 1st 2016 , Northern Ireland (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye A major police operation begins at the Ardoyne and Twaddell interface ahead of the return parade on October 1st 2016 , Northern Ireland (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye A major police operation begins at the Ardoyne and Twaddell interface ahead of the return parade on October 1st 2016 , Northern Ireland (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)

Rev Gibson said he was "strong enough" in his faith to attend other services.

He said: "But that's the rules I accept the rule."

The Orange man who is also the Order's chaplain said it was not an "ambition" of his to change the rule at present.

"There's not enough hours in the day to do it now. It's significant for some people," he said.

"Walking through the doors of the church doesn't mean you will sympathise any more."

In 2011 UUP leader Tom Elliott and the then Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy faced disciplinary proceedings for attending the funeral of a murdered Catholic PSNI officer.

Orange Order summons UUP pair over funeral for Catholic PSNI officer  

They were the subject of a complaint made by a Sandy Row lodge after attending Constable Ronan Kerr’s funeral but were later cleared.

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