King Solomon in his wisdom advised that there was “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;” (Ecclesiastes 3:7).
Unfortunately Sammy Heenan (Letters March 12) has chosen to ignore such advice.
May I state from the outset that I joined the Loyal Orange Institution of Ireland in 1964 because I believed in the core values of the Institution? I still believe in those core values and by the grace of God I will do so until my dying day.
I have never, as stated, criticised the Order per se, but only those individuals – including senior officers – who by their public statements and actions deny those core values.
I never suggested that the “Order is ambivalent and hypocritical in its approach to loyalists”.
In my letter of March 5 I did not use the words ‘ambivalent’ or ‘hypocritical’, neither did I use the word ‘inconsistent’. (That was the headline writer).
What I did was to point out the paradox of the leadership, who continue to state that they will not talk to Sinn Fein, because they are the political representatives of an organisation responsible for the murder of Orangemen.
This is logical, because they continue to align themselves with the political representatives of loyalist paramilitaries, i.e. “with those who brought misery and destruction”, who have also been responsible for the murder of Orangemen.
This is evidenced, not just by the signing of the pledge on parading on 10 July 2014, but by the continuing sharing of a platform, on a weekly basis at the Woodvale Road protest, with these political representatives.
In his conclusion Mr Heenan writes: “The Order enriches society ... inspires confidence ... plays a key role ... Most importantly it plays its part witnessing the gospel of pour Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”. While this may be true of Rathfriland, I would ask Mr Hennan to consider: What kind of Gospel witness is it when an Orangeman takes a ceremonial sword to the head of a policeman or when police officers are attacked, as happened in North Belfast?
What kind of Gospel witness is it when a priest has to stop saying Mass because of the noise of a passing parade, as happened at St Patrick’s Donegal Street and St Matthew’s Newtownards Road?
What kind of Gospel witness is advanced by the nightly abuse of police officers at Twaddell Avenue?
While I admire Mr Heenan for putting his head above the parapet – in this case the vow of silence may have been more appropriate!
Brian Kennaway, Author: The Orange Order:A Tradition Betrayed