Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Time for common sense to prevail at the Orange Order

The Orange Order will greatly enhance its reputation if it gives the right lead over the complaint against Tom Elliott and Danny Kennedy for attending a Catholic police officer's funeral.

Now is the time to amend, or redefine, the rule that made the complaint possible.

It won't be enough to lose it in the order's structures.

That is what they did when a similar complaint was made against David Trimble and Lord Rogan for attending the funerals of three Catholic victims of the Omagh bomb.

The fact is that many Orangemen, like the four named above, follow their conscience and honour the rule in the breach.

David McNarry, for instance, told me he attended the Catholic funeral of Dennis Tapparo, a friend and business associate, in Birmingham in 2005.

Mr McNarry is a past assistant grand master. Any rule that isn't evenly applied to everyone equally is capricious and unfair.

If it can't, in all conscience, be applied to anyone at all, then it brings dishonour on any organisation that keeps it on the books in the name of some paltry and disregarded principle. Grand Lodge can easily resolve this issue, with a little courage.

It could, for instance, rule that taking Mass is prohibited, but that attending an event like a Catholic funeral is not.

Better still, it could drop the rule altogether.

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