Orangemen want to parade in ‘Catholic’ areas but they’re not so keen on attending Masses. (Well OK that may be just a slight understatement!) Anyway, we’re all so familiar with the situation that it’s easy not to see it in all of its absurdity.
We recently learned that it wasn’t just a Lodge from Belfast that complained to the Grand Lodge of Ireland about top Unionists attending Constable Ronan Kerr’s funeral. Orangemen from County Derry also complained about Tom Elliott and Danny Kennedy attending Requiem Mass.
Meanwhile, it has also emerged that another lodge wants the ban on attending Catholic services lifted. It’s a public relations disaster for the Order itself and a cringe-inducing embarrassment for almost everyone else.
Whilst many of the brethren aren’t in the least bigoted on an individual basis, the glue that holds the Order together is its anti-Catholic brand of religion and its love of public processions.
Last week I was thinking up wacky motions for debate at Stormont to mock the lack of important legislation there and a friend from Dublin made a suggestion. He said something about getting Orangemen to attend Mass. It was a whimsical quip and I’m not sure exactly what he meant. Did he mean it should be made compulsory? Anyway, it’s such a wonderfully surreal suggestion that I haven’t been able to get it out of my head.
Well, we know many Catholics, never mind Orangemen, aren’t so keen on attending Mass these days. So, what about the loyal brethren? Might they boost the attendance figures?
We know they’re always keen to march in ‘Catholic’ areas. (A new book says only 19 per cent are against marching where residents are “unsupportive”.) So, if they managed to lift their ban on attending Mass might they consider parading to a Catholic church?
Of course, it would remove a central ‘plank’ of Orangeism at a stroke but they would get to march on, “the Queen’s highway”, as they love to call it, where they wouldn’t otherwise be welcome.
Isn’t half a loaf better than no bread?
How’s that for a w acky idea? Of course, it’s not going to happen. It’s so absurd I felt I had to mention it.
The disturbing thing is that it’s not actually daft at all compared with the absurdity of so many people clinging to past divisions that have outlived their sell-by date by about 300 years.
Read more form Norman Hamill in the Journal every Tuesday