The Obdurate Order

The funeral of PC Ronan Kerr back in April saw some iconic images.

The photographs of PSNI officers and GAA players shouldering his coffin are hard to underestimate in terms of their significance.This was a moment of unity.

The murder of the young police officer by Dissident Republicans was universally condemned.

This was a society that was saying that the violence of the past should remain in the past.

The old RUC is gone and the GAA has changed its stance on membership of the GAA for Crown forces. It is 10 years since the GAA abolished rule 21.

Since then the British national anthem has been played at Croke Park as the English rugby team took on Ireland.  If that wasn’t change enough then the British Monarch herself has visited Croke Park were her grandfather’s forces murdered innocent civilians in 1920.

The GAA has acted with maturity and magnanimity throughout the Peace Process.

The “Gah” is in my blood. In my grandfather’s wee town in Westmeath the idea of the team turning out without one of my clann in it  is almost ridiculous. One of my treasured possessions is a photo of my 19 year old father with his hurling team somewhere in West Mayo. They had won the county championship. For the non Irish reader it is hard to convey the cultural importance of Cumann Lúthchleas Gael to this country’s journey into nationhood. So huge concessions have been made by nationalist Ireland in the cause of peace. However it has to be a two way process.

It is sad then to see the behaviour of the Orange Order over the attendance of UUP leader Tom Elliott for attending the funeral of Ronan Kerr.

The very fact that is being discussed at a meeting of senior Orangemen about whether or not to discipline their “brother” is very sad.

The rules of the Orange Order prohibit members from attending Catholic masses.

Rules can be changed.

Ask the GAA.

People in leadership positions within both communities in the North have shown great courage and vision over the last 15 years.

Political Unionism has moved on greatly. Loyalism, particularly the PUP, has  started  to develop a sophisticated class based analysis.

The one organisation that hasn’t moved on is the Orange Order.

They remain handcuffed to their past.

It is a given that the Orange Order would not pass muster of any equality audit.

Their rules are an anachronism and should be an embarrassment to anyone who admits to being a member of “the Orange”.

Like the Klan in the USA their day has passed.

The people they used to look down on are no longer at the back of the bus.

They are still camped on the Hill of Drumcree waiting to coat trail down the Garvaghy road.

They still don’t get it.

Their day is gone.

They have lost their “wee country”.

The old Orange State is dead.

They should acknowledge the new dispensation or slowly die.

If they don’t change the cause of death will be their irrelevancy.

Discover Phil’s dramatic play Rebellion