As an ordinary grassroots Orangeman I consider it necessary, on this occasion, to challenge the comments attributable to the Rev Brian Kennaway (letter March 5) in respect of his belief that the Orange Institution is inconsistent in its approach to those perceivably aligned with loyalist terrorism.
From its formation, the Order has become accustomed to criticism from diverse quarters.
However, it is evident over the past decade, this campaign has intensified with ferocious vigour through the efforts of keyboard warriors either in the press or social media.
Occasionally criticism emanates from those who would have us believe they’re sympathetic to the objectives and ideals of our institution. However, they consistently seek every opportunity to undermine each initiative our organisation embarks upon.
It is evident the Rev Kennaway, identifiably through his consistent criticism of the Order fulfils that criteria. On this occasion for the said gentleman to exploit the memorial to a murdered Orangeman to assuage his own personal grudge is crass, crude and insensitive.
For him to suggest the Order is in any way ambivalent and hypocritical in its approach to those sympathetic to loyalists is naive in the extreme.
Our leadership has been historically consistent in its condemnation of terrorism irrespective of its origins.
My father was one of the 330 murdered brethren and I’m sure I speak for the majority when I say we would never be complicit to the Order aligning itself with those who brought misery and destruction to our lives.
I do recognise on the ground situations and acquaintances develop for the common good and it’s very opportunistic for those who remain aloof to be judgemental from the sidelines.
The Orange Institution has elevated the continued plight of innocent victims and played its part in ensuring terrorists are thwarted in their attempts to distort the narrative of the past which imply we were all equally culpable for the terrible depravity that occurred here.
The unveiling of the plaque in Londonderry is testament to the resilience and fortitude of our members and should be above the petty point scoring and chip on the shoulder attitude of Mr Kennaway.
The Orange Institution remains a valuable asset that enriches our society through cultural and social expression.
It inspires confidence within the Protestant community and plays a pivotal role in the stability and well being of our province.
Most importantly it plays its part in the witness of the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
I trust people like the Rev Kennaway will focus in future on the positives and refrain from letting his own petty prejudice cloud his judgement on these matters.
Sammy Heenan, Rathfriland