Belfast Telegraph

Poll: 76% of Belfast Telegraph readers want Orange Order to lift ban on members attending Catholic services

Belfast Telegraph readers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Orange Order relaxing rules on its members entering Catholic churches.

In a Facebook poll of over 6.7k readers, 76% voted in favour of the organisation making the move, with 24% against.

The poll came after the Scottish branch of the Orange Order voted to allow its members to attend Catholic services.

It is understood that the rules of the Orange Order state that a member must "avoid countenancing (by his presence or otherwise) any act or ceremony of Roman Catholic or other non-Reformed Worship".

The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland said it had "no comment" to make on the issue.

In response to our poll Gareth McBride said that he was "from a family of Orangemen" and thought the ban should be lifted.

"If I had to attend the wedding or funeral of a friend I would and no one would tell me otherwise," he wrote.

Darrin Thompson said that he felt "of course" members should be able to enter churches and claimed that the issue caused him to resign from the order "a couple of years ago".

John Reeves also claimed the issue caused him to leave the organisation, saying "you don’t need to be anti-Catholic to be a good Protestant", while John Flanders said the rule was "antiquated and should be formally dropped".

Sylvia Lakemacher said that if everyone "switched churches on Sunday maybe you would all understand each other better".

Tom Elliott with Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte (left) at the funeral of murdered police officer Ronan Kerr
Tom Elliott with Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte (left) at the funeral of murdered police officer Ronan Kerr

"They are just not that different. We all pray to the same God and want the same things for our children", she wrote.

John Kerr said that he had been in "many" Catholic churches "from Ireland to Italy, Spain, France and Austria" and "dare say thousands of other members have".

Should the Orange Order in Ireland follow Scotland's example and lift ban on members entering Catholic churches?

Posted by Belfast Telegraph on Tuesday, March 26, 2019

However June Gamble said the matter was "for the Orange Order to decide" within the organisation, while Muriel Quinn said "a true Orangeman/woman would never want to enter a Roman Catholic Church in the first place".

In 2011 then UUP leader Tom Elliot and MLA Danny Kennedy, both Orangemen, underwent disciplinary proceedings for attending the funeral of murdered PSNI officer Ronan Kerr.

However DUP MLA Simon Hamilton faced no sanction for attending the funeral of Martin McGuinness alongside Arlene Foster in 2017. 

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