Belfast Telegraph

Orange Order needs to march to a different drumbeat

If the Orange Order believes its values are under attack then it needs to spell out those values in a better light and come up with a PR strategy pretty soon, writes Alex Kane

Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr holds a police officer's helmet
Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr holds a police officer's helmet
ACC Kerr with a shield belonging to one of his officers
A petrol bomb hits riot police after it was thrown by loyalist rioters in the Woodvale area of north Belfast
A petrol bomb burns on the ground in the Woodvale area of north Belfast
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of north Belfast
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of north Belfast
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of north Belfast
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of north Belfast
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of north Belfast
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of north Belfast
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of north Belfast
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of north Belfast
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of north Belfast
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of north Belfast
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of north Belfast
A burnt car sits on the O'Neill Road in Newtownabbey
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of North Belfast on Sunday. The protest follows two nights of disturbances in North Belfast after police enforced a ban on an Orange Order march on Friday. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of North Belfast on Sunday. The protest follows two nights of disturbances in North Belfast after police enforced a ban on an Orange Order march on Friday. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of North Belfast on Sunday. The protest follows two nights of disturbances in North Belfast after police enforced a ban on an Orange Order march on Friday. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of North Belfast on Sunday. The protest follows two nights of disturbances in North Belfast after police enforced a ban on an Orange Order march on Friday. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of North Belfast on Sunday. The protest follows two nights of disturbances in North Belfast after police enforced a ban on an Orange Order march on Friday. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Loyalists confront police in north Belfast, after an Orange July 12 parade was stopped from passing a Nationalist area. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 12, 2013. See PA story ULSTER Parades. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire
Loyalists confront police in north Belfast, after an Orange July 12 parade was stopped from passing a Nationalist area. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 12, 2013. See PA story ULSTER Parades. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire
Press Eye - Belfast - Sunday 14th July 2013 Loyalists peacefully protesting in the Woodvale area of North Belfast this evening. The protest follows 2 nights of disturbances in North Belfast after police enforced a ban on an Orange Order march on Friday The marching season in Northern Ireland is a period of events from April to August, with the highpoint on 12 July when Orangemen march to commemorate William of Orange's victory over the Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland in 1690. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Loyalists confront police in north Belfast, after an Orange July 12 parade was stopped from passing a Nationalist area. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 12, 2013. See PA story ULSTER Parades. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire
Press Eye - Belfast - Sunday 14th July 2013 Loyalists protesting in the Woodvale area of North Belfast this evening. The protest follows 2 nights of disturbances in North Belfast after police enforced a ban on an Orange Order march on Friday The marching season in Northern Ireland is a period of events from April to August, with the highpoint on 12 July when Orangemen march to commemorate William of Orange's victory over the Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland in 1690. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Loyalists hurled bricks and other missiles at police during violence clashes on the Twelfth of July.
PSNI aerial footage of Woodvale riot on Twelfth of July
PSNI arial footage of Woodvale riot on twelth of July
13/7/13 PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST. A loyalist protestor sits on the road as nearby heavily armed riot squad PSNI officers stand firm as serious trouble broke out this evening in the Woodvale road area near Ardoyne. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
13/7/13 PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST. Heavily armed riot squad PSNI officers stand firm as serious trouble broke out this evening in the Woodvale road area near Ardoyne. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
13/7/13 PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST. Heavily armed riot squad PSNI officers stand firm as serious trouble broke out this evening in the Woodvale road area near Ardoyne. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
13/7/13 PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST. Heavily armed riot squad PSNI officers stand firm as serious trouble broke out this evening in the Woodvale road area near Ardoyne. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
13/7/13 PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST. Heavily armed riot squad PSNI officers stand firm as serious trouble broke out this evening in the Woodvale road area near Ardoyne. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
13/7/13 PACEMAKER PRESS BELFAST. Heavily armed riot squad PSNI officers stand firm as serious trouble broke out this evening in the Woodvale road area near Ardoyne. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
Violence broke out in the Woodvale area of Belfast after the Parades Commission ruled that marchers were not allowed to return along the part of the Crumlin Road at Ardoyne shops that separates nationalist and loyalist communities
Loyalists confronted police in North Belfast on the Twelfth of July, following the decision to bar Orangemen from walking through Ardoyne
North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds was injured in violence that followed an Orange Order parade. Police say Mr Dodds was knocked unconscious and taken away in an ambulance. Earlier he had appealed for calm after trouble broke out when the Orange parade was stopped on the Woodvale Road and was hit with a water cannon. Picture: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
Heavily armed riot squad PSNI officers faced serious trouble last night as they enforced the Parades Commission's ruling that Orange bandsmen could not return past the nationalist Ardoyne area after the annual 12th of July parade. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker
Press Eye - Belfast - Friday 12th July 2013 Loyalist bandsmen and Orangemen pictured in the Woodvale area of west belfast with officers from the PSNI after the Parades Commission ruled that marchers are not allowed to return along the part of the Crumlin Road, at Ardoyne shops, that separates nationalist and loyalist communities. PSNI help an injured Loyalist on the Woodvale Road Thousands of Orangemen are taking part in the annual Twelfth of July parades across Northern Ireland. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Violence broke out in the Woodvale area of Belfast after the Parades Commission ruled that marchers were not allowed to return along the part of the Crumlin Road at Ardoyne shops that separates nationalist and loyalist communities
Violence broke out in the Woodvale area of Belfast after the Parades Commission ruled that marchers were not allowed to return along the part of the Crumlin Road at Ardoyne shops that separates nationalist and loyalist communities
Heavily armed riot squad PSNI officers faced serious trouble last night as they enforced the Parades Commission's ruling that Orange bandsmen could not return past the nationalist Ardoyne area after the annual 12th of July parade. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker
Heavily armed riot squad PSNI officers faced serious trouble last night as they enforced the Parades Commission's ruling that Orange bandsmen could not return past the nationalist Ardoyne area after the annual 12th of July parade. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker
Loyalist bandsmen and Orangemen pictured in the Woodvale area of west belfast with officers from the PSNI after the Parades Commission ruled that marchers are not allowed to return along the part of the Crumlin Road, at Ardoyne shops, that separates nationalist and loyalist communities.
12.07.13. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALD Riots kick off at Woodvale as the parades are not allowed to pass Ardoyne.
12.07.13. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALD Riots kick off at Woodvale as the parades are not allowed to pass Ardoyne.
Loyalists clash with police on Woodvale Road as they are stopped from parading any further.
Loyalists clash with police on Woodvale Road as they are stopped from parading any further. A loyalist uses a captured police baton on police lines.
12.07.13. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALD Riots kick off at Woodvale as the parades are not allowed to pass Ardoyne.
12.07.13. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALD Riots kick off at Woodvale as the parades are not allowed to pass Ardoyne.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
12th July celebrations take place across Northern Ireland to commemorate the 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne by King William of Orange. Loyal Orange Lodges of Ireland parade with marching bands to celebrate the date and the Protestant faith. The return parade past the Nationalist Ardoyne shops in north Belfast is blocked by a parades commission. An injured officer is taken away as Loyalist clash with police on Woodvale Road as they are stopped from parading any further.
12th July celebrations take place across Northern Ireland to commemorate the 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne by King William of Orange. Loyal Orange Lodges of Ireland parade with marching bands to celebrate the date and the Protestant faith. The return parade past the Nationalist Ardoyne shops in north Belfast is blocked by a parades commission. Loyalist clash with police on Woodvale Road as they are stopped from parading any further.
12th July celebrations take place across Northern Ireland to commemorate the 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne by King William of Orange. Loyal Orange Lodges of Ireland parade with marching bands to celebrate the date and the Protestant faith. The return parade past the Nationalist Ardoyne shops in north Belfast is blocked by a parades commission. Loyalist clash with police on Woodvale Road as they are stopped from parading any further.
12th July celebrations take place across Northern Ireland to commemorate the 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne by King William of Orange. Loyal Orange Lodges of Ireland parade with marching bands to celebrate the date and the Protestant faith. The return parade past the Nationalist Ardoyne shops in north Belfast is blocked by a parades commission. A Loyalist at police lines on Woodvale Road where the parade was stopped from going any further.
12th July celebrations take place across Northern Ireland to commemorate the 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne by King William of Orange. Loyal Orange Lodges of Ireland parade with marching bands to celebrate the date and the Protestant faith. The return parade past the Nationalist Ardoyne shops in north Belfast is blocked by a parades commission. Loyalist clash with police on Woodvale Road as they are stopped from parading any further.
12th July celebrations take place across Northern Ireland to commemorate the 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne by King William of Orange. Loyal Orange Lodges of Ireland parade with marching bands to celebrate the date and the Protestant faith. The return parade past the Nationalist Ardoyne shops in north Belfast is blocked by a parades commission. Loyalist clash with police on Woodvale Road as they are stopped from parading any further.
12th July celebrations take place across Northern Ireland to commemorate the 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne by King William of Orange. Loyal Orange Lodges of Ireland parade with marching bands to celebrate the date and the Protestant faith. The return parade past the Nationalist Ardoyne shops in north Belfast is blocked by a parades commission. An injured officer is taken away as Loyalist clash with police on Woodvale Road as they are stopped from parading any further.
12th July celebrations take place across Northern Ireland to commemorate the 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne by King William of Orange. Loyal Orange Lodges of Ireland parade with marching bands to celebrate the date and the Protestant faith. The return parade past the Nationalist Ardoyne shops in north Belfast is blocked by a parades commission. Loyalist clash with police on Woodvale Road as they are stopped from parading any further.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
12th July celebrations take place across Northern Ireland to commemorate the 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne by King William of Orange. Loyal Orange Lodges of Ireland parade with marching bands to celebrate the date and the Protestant faith. The return parade past the Nationalist Ardoyne shops in north Belfast is blocked by a parades commission. Loyalist clash with police on Woodvale Road as they are stopped from parading any further.
12th July celebrations take place across Northern Ireland to commemorate the 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne by King William of Orange. Loyal Orange Lodges of Ireland parade with marching bands to celebrate the date and the Protestant faith. The return parade past the Nationalist Ardoyne shops in north Belfast is blocked by a parades commission. A Loyalist at police lines on Woodvale Road where the parade was stopped from going any further.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
A man is injured and taken away in a police landrover at the junction of Fedrick street and York Road in Belfast as tensions run hight between loyalists and Police on the 12th evening. PICTURE STEVEN MCAULEY/KEVIN MCAULEY MCAULEY PHOTOGRAPHY MULTIMEDIA
A man is injured and taken away in a police landrover at the junction of Fedrick street and York Road in Belfast as tensions run hight between loyalists and Police on the 12th evening. PICTURE STEVEN MCAULEY/KEVIN MCAULEY MCAULEY PHOTOGRAPHY MULTIMEDIA
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. . At least two police officers have been injured. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/07/2013 Water cannon have been used in north Belfast after bricks and bottles were thrown in a sustained attack on police Land Rovers in the Woodvale area of Belfast . The attack came as police enforced a Parades Commission ruling. . At least two police officers have been injured. The ruling stops Orange Order lodges from walking on a stretch of road in north Belfast that separates loyalist and nationalist communities. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
Loyalist bandsmen and Orangemen pictured in the Woodvale area of west belfast with officers from the PSNI after the Parades Commission ruled that marchers are not allowed to return along the part of the Crumlin Road, at Ardoyne shops, that separates nationalist and loyalist communities.
Loyalist bandsmen and Orangemen pictured in the Woodvale area of west belfast with officers from the PSNI after the Parades Commission ruled that marchers are not allowed to return along the part of the Crumlin Road, at Ardoyne shops, that separates nationalist and loyalist communities.
Loyalist bandsmen and Orangemen pictured in the Woodvale area of west belfast with officers from the PSNI after the Parades Commission ruled that marchers are not allowed to return along the part of the Crumlin Road, at Ardoyne shops, that separates nationalist and loyalist communities.
Loyalist bandsmen and Orangemen pictured in the Woodvale area of west belfast with officers from the PSNI after the Parades Commission ruled that marchers are not allowed to return along the part of the Crumlin Road, at Ardoyne shops, that separates nationalist and loyalist communities.
A policeman is injured in disturbances with loyalists.
A policeman is injured in disturbances with loyalists.
A policeman is injured in disturbances with loyalists.
Loyalists clash with police on Woodvale Road as they are stopped from parading any further. A loyalist uses a captured police baton on police lines.
12.07.13. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALD Riots kick off at Woodvale as the parades are not allowed to pass Ardoyne.
A total of 32 police officers were injured in violence in Belfast on Friday
Police officer is injured in north Belfast, after an Orange July 12 parade was stopped from passing a Nationalist area. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 12, 2013. See PA story ULSTER Parades. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire
Police fight back flames during rioting in north Belfast

Alex Kane

It's never good when an organisation has to begin a Press statement with the words: "We seek to clarify events." It usually means that something has gone badly wrong and that they are trying to distance themselves from both the consequences and responsibility.

The reality is that, no matter how hard the Orange Order tried to nuance and parse yesterday's very lengthy statement, the impression left in the minds of most people – including many of its natural supporters – is of yet another occasion when the Order clearly lost the propaganda battle.

Lost it so badly, in fact, that no amount of saying: "The vast majority of parades and demonstrations went off peacefully," makes the blindest bit of difference.

The main story, locally and nationally (and big enough to sweep the discovery of non-decommissioned IRA weapons towards the back pages) was the sight of men (some in sashes) and bandsmen (in their uniforms) attacking the police.

Here's the dilemma for the Orange Order: There is a section of republicanism which will never accept the right of Orangemen and accompanying bands to parade in what they designate as "republican areas".

Whether it's Sinn Fein-linked resident/community groups (most of which seem to be terribly 'concerned'), or dissident-linked groups, their main priority is, quite literally, stopping the Orange Order in its tracks.

On the other side of the road is that majority of Orangemen (58%, according to a recent internal poll) who think they have an unfettered right to parade wherever they want to parade.

And that's the problem: what we are seeing is the almost inevitable consequence of what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object.

On occasions like this, you need strategies and option papers. You need to understand the precise nature and knock-on effects of the problem and gather around you a body of media and public support – including influential figures, who have been well-briefed, are sympathetic and prepared to take your side. But the Orange Order has done none of this.

It scuppered a proposed replacement for the Parades Commission in early 2010. It doesn't talk to the existing commission. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't talk to an all-party alternative, which included Sinn Fein and SDLP representatives.

It has a list as long as my arm of the sort of people and organisations it won't talk to. And most of its spokesmen are convinced that nearly everyone – including the media – is against them.

What isn't clear, however, is whom they would be prepared to talk to. The US diplomat Richard Haass (a special envoy to Northern Ireland from 2001-3) arrives this week to kick-start a process which, it is hoped, will lead to all-party recommendations on parades, protests, flags, symbols and emblems.

Will the Orange Order talk to him? Who knows? If past form is anything to go by, they will lay down so many pre-conditions for dialogue that he will simply go ahead without them. And they need to remember that.

The Orange Order may be a key part in all of this, but they will not be allowed to stop others from talking and reaching decisions.

Back in 2010, the Order 'worked' with the UUP to wreck a parades strategy which had almost been agreed by the other Executive parties.

The ploy reaped no electoral dividends for the UUP in the 2010-11 elections (which is why it had done it in the first place) and left the Order having to deal with the Parades Commission for another three years.

Worse, there is no-one on the commission who sees things from the Order's overall perspective, which means that it has no-one it can trust, or use as a conduit for talking to other members. In other words, they find themselves in the worst possible of all worlds.

And they will stay there until they wake up, grow up and deal with the world as it is, rather than as they wish it was.

If members have a case to make, then make it. Make it at every available platform and media outlet. Explain themselves: who are they? Are they a religious, cultural, social, historical, or political organisation? What is their role in the everyday life of Northern Ireland? Why is parading in particular places so important to them?

I think that one of the most persistent problems for the Order is that the leadership takes the rest of us for granted and assumes that we actually know what makes it tick.

Yet it seems to me that the Order hasn't fully accepted that the world is changing and passing it by. If it thinks that what it is facing is a 'cultural war' (and I have some sympathy for that analysis), then learn to present its culture and values in a better, clearer light.

And learn to use the media and propaganda to its advantage, rather than coming across as a big, grumpy Orange bear with a very sore head.

The Orange Order has a battle on its hands and it has managed to drag all of us into it. If it doesn't want to lose, then it has to persuade an awful lot of people that its cause is worth supporting.

So far, they haven't been doing a good job.

Belfast Telegraph

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