The Orange Institution is at crisis point in Fermanagh

I wanted to share some thoughts on the recent Fermanagh Twelfth.

Monday, 30th July 2018, 1:18 am
Updated Monday, 30th July 2018, 2:29 am

The parade was led by senior members of Fermanagh County Grand Lodge, all such members are required to wear bowler hats, however this was not the case on parade.

Furthermore, Orangemen carrying the leading bannerettes and flags paraded with their jackets open, something which should not happen.

Bannerette carriers throughout the parade are obliged to wear a suit, tie and bowler hat but too many failed to comply with this instruction.

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Pettigo district led the parade, unfortunately this was not a positive start as the district has declined dramatically with many small lodges parading including Tubrid, Lack, Tievemore and Dromard.

Tievemore pipe band was missing a drum major and North Fermanagh Young defenders wore collarettes over their uniforms which is against protocol and a drummer was also missing a hat.

Regarding the Republic’s contingent there were low numbers of Orangemen on parade, younger members and females seemed absent, many members were poorly attired, one member from Mullaghboy lodge wore jeans, swathes of lodges in the Republic allowed stragglers within their ranks and non-lodge members were carrying banners none of which looks good on parade and all of which is against the rules.

Ballymagroarty accordion band/lodge has declined in numbers and appearance while Sister Susan Graham’s memorial band had members with shirts hanging out wearing trainers.

With regards to the Fermanagh bands and lodges within the parade it is not an exaggeration to state the institution has reached crisis point with a declining membership that is ageing.

Enniskillen pipe band has folded and lodge numbers for Enniskillen town were low with an older demographic, a scenario replicated across most of Fermanagh’s districts.

One lodge within Enniskillen decided to bring a shopping cage on parade with a poster of the recently deceased Brother Drew Nelson attached to it, which was not an ideal way to brother Nelson’s memory.

Ballinamallard’s lodges were small with people wearing jeans within their ranks.

Garvary’s lodge is almost non-existent with members allowed to parade in trainers and without ties, Churchill district has now been reduced to one lodge and one band, this is too small for a district and the obvious solution is amalgamation.

Garrison’s lodge allowed stragglers within their ranks, Castle Archdale, Trory, Snowhill, Drumharvey, Maguiresbridge, Lisbellaw, Killadeas, Tedd, Cavanaleck, Bellanaleck, Lisnaskea, Tempo and Tamlaght all recorded low numbers on parade.

One of the most nauseating sights of the Twelfth was a member of a lodge smoking whilst on parade.

Newtownbutler district has shrunk to alarming levels. The overall female footfall on parade was down which is more ironic given the landmark year it is for females.

If Orangeism is to survive in the county, female membership will need to be treated as seriously as their male counterparts.

There needs to be an uptake in junior lodges across Fermanagh especially in towns such as Ballinamallard, Lisbellaw and Enniskillen where they are currently non-existent with a set dress code implemented.

There needs to be an uptake in junior lodges across Fermanagh especially in towns such as Ballinamallard, Lisbellaw and Enniskillen where they are currently non-existent with a set dress code implemented.

Jackets should have been the order of the day for both bands and the Orange, failure here spoilt the feel of the parade, for instance a silver had some wearing shirts and some tunics which looked dreadful.

I will conclude that urgent action is needed to reverse the downward trajectory Orangeism is experiencing within Fermanagh.

A recruitment and retention committee is a must for both bands and lodges with joined up thinking between both entities.

Bands that have gone off the road need reviving as does the junior and female movement.

Orangeism in Fermanagh has never been at a lower ebb and needs to become more than a day out in July for its membership.

Mr DL, Fermanagh