The Orange Order has influence on young people, and should stick to its Christian ethos

A letter from Arnold Carton:

By Letters
Monday, 25th April 2022, 3:09 am
Updated Monday, 25th April 2022, 3:36 am
Mervyn Gibson speaking during the anti protocol rally on the Broomfield Road, east Belfast on Friday
Mervyn Gibson speaking during the anti protocol rally on the Broomfield Road, east Belfast on Friday

The speech delivered by Rev Mervyn Gibson of the Orange Order at Friday’s East Belfast Protocol Rally was reminiscent of the type once delivered by Rev Ian Paisley of the DUP, with its central messages of anger, fear and mistrust (‘Orange clergyman invokes gunrunners and Ulster Covenant as he denounces Protocol,’ April 23, see below).

It seems to me that the Orange Order is determined to keep Ulster’s Protestants in a perpetual state of anxiety. This might benefit the Orange Order and the DUP, but does it benefit the young Protestant teenagers I used to teach?

Rev Gibson warned us about the danger of being forced into an all-Ireland economy, about ‘foreign influence’ being a cancer that could spread and he declared that ‘we have had enough negotiations’.

Before Rev Gibson issues more warnings against the cancer of foreign European influences he should pause to consider where Prince Willem Hendrik of Orange was born and what was his first language before he invaded the UK and became our ‘King Billy’.

Just as in 1690 when the UK benefited from the input of European influences, today we would benefit from having our economy linked to both Europe and the UK; we should not let our fear of being considered Irish to blind us to our geography — just look at a map, trading freely with the Irish Republic as well as the rest of the UK makes sense. The Orange Order should not be encouraging young Protestants to cut themselves off from the rest of Europe.

The involvement of the EU in 1998 helped secure peace because unionists could pretend NI was like any other part of the UK, while nationalists could pretend NI was another part of Ireland and separate from UK. The dramatic cut with Europe at Brexit was a strategic mistake for unionism; picking another row with Europe now is a short-sighted strategy that will bring more chaos to N. Ireland businesses.

Much worse is Rev Gibson’s unashamed use of the example of 1912, when our ancestors joined the UVF and unlawfully imported guns from Germany through Larne and Donaghadee to obstruct the democratic wishes of the British parliament at Westminster.

As a former RUC member, Rev Gibson knows the dangers to our young people of the influence of armed paramilitaries. The Orange Order has a Christian ethos, it should beware of leading young Protestants into the arms of Satan.

Arnold Carton, Belfast BT6

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