26 March 2006

Orange leaders 'betrayed tradition'

Sunday Times

Liam Clarke
March 26, 2006

LEADING figures in the Orange Order have been accused of betraying its traditions and allowing it to become associated with religious bigotry. In a book to be published next month, the Reverend Brian Kennaway claims that the order was more tolerant of Catholics in the 18th and 19th centuries than it is today.

A former convenor of the order’s education committee, Kennaway hopes his book will help to bring it back to the principles on which it was founded. “These principles were pro-Protestant but not anti-Catholic,” he said.

A member of the order for 42 years, Kennaway could face discipline over the blow-by-blow account he gives in the book of a prolonged dispute within the Grand Lodge resulting from his attempts to broaden the organisation’s base and to moderate its message. The order’s membership is estimated at 30,000.

He provides several examples of how the Orange Order has allowed criminals to remain in its ranks despite rules stipulating that members should be of good character. This includes the case of William McCaughey, a police officer convicted of the sectarian murder of William Strathearn, a Catholic shopkeeper, in 1977.

McCaughey admitted being a member of the UVF when he carried out the killing and was expelled from Ian Paisley’s DUP for his crime. However, he was allowed to remain in the Orange Order until his death earlier this year. McCaughey walked in the Twelfth of July demonstration last year. He is pictured in Kennaway’s book wearing a sash.

The book also records the case of the so-called Drumcree 15, who pleaded guilty to riotous behaviour during the clashes in Portadown in 2002.

Robert Saulters, the Orange Order’s grand master, pledged before the case that troublemakers would be disciplined. But when the convicted men were leaving the court Mark Harbinson, their leader, thanked the order for its support and was subsequently allowed to remain a member.

Last September Dawson Baillie, the Belfast Orange grand master, called for crowds to come on to the streets during a banned march. When serious rioting ensued he refused to condemn it, blamed the police and said that he would act in exactly the same way if the situation arose again.

Kennaway quotes Sammy Duddy, an Ulster Defence Association spokesman, who accused the order of exploiting the paramilitaries for its own ends.

“The Orange Order has always used the paramilitaries as the big stick,” Duddy said.

“They use them to police their parades through contentious areas. They use them as their army when it suits and then wash their hands if things turn out badly. Certain sections of the UDA are now saying, ‘No more are we going to be used by the Orange Order’.”

Paul Bew, professor of Irish politics at Queen’s University, Belfast, described the book as a very important work. “Kennaway was at the heart of a struggle to change the Orange Order,” Bew said. “He tried to broaden the meanings associated with Orangeism and the interesting question is how and why he lost that struggle. He fought his corner very hard and he is a brave and decent man.”

Most of Kennaway’s support comes from the liberal wing of the order, many of whom are no longer in positions of influence. David Trimble, the former UUP leader and an Orangeman, has agreed to launch the book.

The Orange Order: A Tradition Betrayed by Brian Kennaway will be published by Methuen on April 27

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