Jude Collins is ill-informed on the Orange Order

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I note with interest the controversy over the fact that David McNarry ‘stormed out’ of the BBC Talkback programme (November 24).

May I be permitted to make some brief comments?

1. It is becoming something of a habit for David McNarry to ‘storm out’ of live BBC programmes. David also ‘stormed out’ of a Radio Ulster’s Seven Days politics programme I shared with him on 4 December 2005, when I asked him to clarify a newspaper report that he had applied for, and was interviewed for, the position of chairman of the Parades Commission. Neither then nor since has he denied such a claim.

2. Jude Collins should inform himself much better if he is going to comment on the Orange Order. He boldly stated (November 25) that the Orange Order is ‘an anti-Catholic organisation’. He also went on to say – ‘But the fact remains that in its origin, history and rules, the Orange Order is opposed to Catholicism, and is and has been a divisive force.’

May I point out that in its origin history and rules it is not ‘opposed to Catholicism’. The second Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge (1801-1816) Dr Patrick Duigenan, was married to a practising Roman Catholic. He provided a resident priest to attend to her spiritual needs. The early Rule Books of the Orange Institution make no reference to Roman Catholics either as individuals or collectively as a Church.

3. The substance of the discussion was related to Martin McGuinness’s remarks that, ‘Unionists have a psychological problem with reconciliation’. Unionists do not have a psychological problem with reconciliation – they have a theological problem with it!

Martin McGuinness does not appear to understand that unionists view reconciliation through religious eyes. They look for repentance to precede reconciliation. The historical Christian understanding is that when we are reconciled to God we are also reconciled to our neighbour. On a practical level unionists look for evidence of ‘abject and true remorse’.

Admittedly there have been some gestures of reconciliation, with republicans taking their seats in Stormont and greeting Her Majesty the Queen. This however cannot be regarded as evidence of a ‘change of heart’. It has to be balanced with the continuing ‘poking in the eye’ at every opportunity.

The employment of Mary McArdle as a Special Advisor at taxpayers’ expense, the naming of a children’s playpark after Raymond McCreesh, and the removal of the national flag from Belfast City Hall all contribute to poking unionists in the eye.

The most recent remarks by the Sinn Fein leader in Belfast City Council, Jim McVeigh, saying the news of Raymond Gilmour’s death had ‘made his day’, have only rubbed salt into the wound.

Brian Kennaway, Author: The Orange Order: A Tradition Betrayed