Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Comments on parades watchdog were out of Order

The Rev Brian Kennaway, now retired from his ministry in Crumlin, and the Rev Mervyn Gibson, of Westbourne Church in east Belfast, are both decent Presbyterian ministers, doing their best.

Both have been senior Orangemen, but Mr Kennaway may have learned more from the experience. He is now a member of the Parades Commission, which the order refuses to speak to.

His position is set out in his historical critique, The Orange Order: A Tradition Betrayed. He describes an Orange Order so badly led that it is unable to meet the challenges of the modern world. Its numbers dwindle as it turns in on itself, refusing to speak to Sinn Fein, or the Parades Commission.

Such positions are not principled stances, but staging-posts in a retreat from relevance. They are mistakes turned into principles and often ignored on the ground. Various branches of the order frequently speak to Sinn Fein and the commission, but the dysfunctional leadership prefers turning a blind eye to accepting reality.

It is unfortunate that Mr Gibson should choose this moment to liken the Parades Commission to the Taliban for the crime of specifying that Abide With Me be played during a sensitive march.

He will show leadership if he withdraws the comment with a good grace. He should compare notes with Brian Kennaway, who has been this way before.

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