Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Paisley split with Orange Order over members attending Mass

Pacemaker Belfast. 12/7/08. The Rev Ian Paisley speaks to the field at the independents Orange parade in Portglenone. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Belfast. 12/7/08. The Rev Ian Paisley speaks to the field at the independents Orange parade in Portglenone. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker

By Noel McAdam

The full story of former First Minister Ian Paisley's split with the Orange Order has been revealed in a new book.

Dating back more than 60 years, the division centred on an issue which still dogs the organisation today - Orange members going to Catholic church services. Firebrand Paisley accused a former lord mayor of Belfast of "breaking a man's heart" by forcing him to attend a Mass.

But he had also learned there were concerns about clergy from his breakaway Free Presbyterian Church seeking out roles as chaplains within the institution.

The late Mr Paisley finally left the organisation himself, in 1962, after complaining about senior Orange leaders attending Catholic services.

The Orangeism: A Historical Profile book's author, Kevin Haddick-Flynn, said: "All the material on Paisley's background and the Free Presbyterian church is fresh.

"Apart from Drumcree, he was hardly mentioned in the first edition of my study."

The book discloses: "(Mr Paisley's) relationship with the Order had long been problematic (though) his activities struck a chord with the more raucous sections of Orangeism. Since his initiation in 1949 he had ruffled numerous feathers and many found him difficult to deal with.

Sign In

"Clergymen within the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland disliked him and urged a vetting of 'Free P' clergy who applied to become lodge chaplains.

"By 1952, realising that his clergy were being disfavoured, he became hostile and in 1958 Rev Warren Porter, a senior chaplain, brought a charge of 'unbrotherly conduct' against him.

"He finally quit in 1962, raising objections to Orangemen attending Catholic services." One complaint was that the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Sir Robert (Robin) Kinahan, had attended the funeral Mass of an alderman "without incurring sanction".

He complained that Kinahan had taken his mace-bearer, a member of the Order, "to the Mass against his will and thus broke the poor man's heart."

Businessman Sir Robin was later chairman of the Ulster Bank and was Lord Lieutenant from 1985 to 1991. He died in 1997.

The establishment of Mr Paisley's second congregation, in Crossgar, is also detailed in the just published study, Orangeism: A Historical Profile, which is an update of an earlier book written two decades ago.

The man who was rebuffed by the Free Presbyterian church he had created after his decision to go into a power-sharing government at Stormont with deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said elders from the main Presbyterian church had no choice but to join him.

"They decided to leave a denomination that had no difficulty permitting dances and parties of various kinds in its church halls..." Mr Paisley wrote.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph