Bingham was one of a number of prominent UVF members to be assassinated during the 1980s, the others being Lenny Murphy, William Marchant, Robert Seymour and Jackie Irvine
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The views and opinions expressed in these pages/documentaries are solely intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.
Ulster Volunteer Force
John Bingham was born in Northern Ireland around 1953 and was brought up in a Protestant family. Described as a shopkeeper, he was married with two children. He lived in Ballysillan Crescent, in the unionist estate of Ballysillan in North Belfast, and also owned a holiday caravan home in Millisle, County Down.
He was a member of the “Old Boyne Island Heroes” Lodge of the Orange Order. On an unknown date, he joined the Ulster loyalist paramilitary organisation, the UVF, and eventually became the commander of its “D Company”, 1st Battalion, Ballysillan, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel.
He was the mastermind behind a productive gun-running operation from Canada, which over the years had involved the smuggling of illegal weapons into Northern Ireland to supply UVF arsenals; however, three months after Bingham’s death, the entire operation collapsed following a raid on a house in Toronto by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in December 1986.
Bingham was one of the loyalist paramilitaries named in the evidence given by supergrass Joe Bennett, who accused him of being a UVF commander. He testified that he had seen Bingham armed with an M60 machine gun and claimed that Bingham had been sent to Toronto to raise funds for the UVF.
These meetings opened contact with Canadian businessman John Taylor, who became involved in smuggling guns from North America to the UVF. As a result of Bennett’s testimony, Bingham was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment after being convicted of committing serious crimes.
He publicly denounced the supergrass system before live television cameras outside Belfast’s Crumlin Road Courthouse when he was released in December 1984 after his conviction had been overturned, having spent two and a half years in prison.
On one occasion, Bingham allegedly placed a loaded pistol inside journalist Martin Dillon‘s mouth because of the latter’s offensive words he had used against him. In an attempt to make amends for his threat, Bingham invited Dillon to visit him at his home in North Belfast.
Dillon accepted the invitation and after several whiskeys and brandishing a pistol, Bingham offered to show him his racing pigeons as he was an avid pigeon fancier. He then told Dillon that he shouldn’t believe what people said about him claiming that he couldn’t harm a pigeon. As they said farewell at the front door, Bingham reportedly murmured in a cold voice to Dillon:
“You ever write about me again and I’ll blow yer fuckin’ brains out, because you’re not a pigeon”.
IRA Belfast Brigade, shoot & kill UVF Inner Council memember John Bingham 14 September 1986
In July 1986, a 25-year-old Catholic civilian, Colm McCallan, was shot close to his Ligoniel home; two days later, he died of his wounds. The IRA sought to avenge McCallan’s death by killing Bingham, the man they held responsible for the shooting.[
Bingham was also believed to have been behind the deaths of several other Catholic civilians.
Ballysillan, north Belfast, where John Bingham lived and commanded the Ballysillan UVF
At 1:30 am on 14 September 1986, Bingham had just returned to Ballysillan Crescent from his caravan home in Millisle. Three gunmen from the IRA’s Ardoyne 3rd Battalion Belfast Brigade, armed with two automatic rifles and a .38 Special, smashed down his front door with a sledgehammer and shot Bingham twice in the legs. Despite his injuries, Bingham ran up the stairs in an attempt to escape his attackers and had just reached a secret door at the top when the gunmen shot him three more times, killing him.
He was 33 years old. He was given a UVF paramilitary funeral, which was attended by politicians from the two main unionist parties, the Ulster Unionist Party and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Members of his “Old Boyne Island Heroes” Orange Order (OO) Lodge formed the guard of honour around his coffin, which was covered with the UVF flag and his gloves and beret. Prominent DUP activist George Seawright helped carry the coffin whilst wearing his OO sash, and called for revenge.
In retaliation, the UVF killed Larry Marley, a leading IRA member from Ardoyne who was also a close friend of Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams. The IRA in their turn gunned down William “Frenchie” Marchant the following spring on the Shankill Road. The deaths of three leading UVF members caused suspicion amongst the UVF leadership that someone within their ranks was setting up high-ranking UVF men by passing on pertinent information to the IRA; therefore, they decided to conduct an enquiry.
Although it was revealed that the three men, Shankill ButcherLenny Murphy, Bingham, and Marchant had all quarrelled with powerful UDA fund-raiser and racketeer James Pratt Craig prior to their deaths, the UVF did not believe the evidence was sufficient to warrant an attack against Craig, who ran a large protection racket in Belfast.
Craig was later shot to death in an East Belfast pub by the UDA (using their “Ulster Freedom Fighters” covername) for “treason”, claiming he had been involved in the assassination of South Belfast UDA brigadier John McMichael, who was blown up by a booby-trap car bomb planted by the IRA outside his Lisburn home in December 1987.
The Battle of the Diamond was a planned confrontation between the Catholic Defenders and the Protestant Peep o’ Day Boys that took place on 21 September 1795 near Loughgall, County Armagh, Ireland.
The Peep o’ Day Boys were the victors, killing some 30 Defenders, with no casualties in return. It led to the foundation of the Orange Order and the onset of:
“the Armagh outrages”.
In the 1780s, County Armagh was the most populous county in Ireland, and the centre of its linen industry. Its population was equally split between Protestants, who were dominant north of the county, and Catholics, who were dominant in the south. Sectarian tensions had been increasing throughout the decade and were exacerbated by the relaxing of some of the Penal Laws, failure to enforce others, and the entry of Catholics into the linen industry at a time when land was scarce and wages were decreasing due to pressure from the mechanised cotton industry. This led to fierce competition to rent patches of land near markets.
By 1784, sectarian fighting had broken out between gangs of Protestants and Catholics. The Protestants re-organised themselves as the Peep o’ Day Boys, with the Catholics forming the Defenders. The next decade would see an escalation in the violence between the two and the local population as homes were raided and wrecked
The Diamond, which was a predominantly Protestant area, is a minor crossroads in County Armagh, lying almost half-way between Loughgall and Portadown. For several days groups from both sides had been arriving at the crossroads. The Defenders had made their base on Faughart Hill in the townland of Tullymore, less than a quarter of a mile south-west of The Diamond.
The Peep o’ Day Boys, which historian Connolly states were of the “Orange Boys” faction,encamped on a hill in the townland of Grange More to the north-east.
Word of a planned confrontation appears to have been widespread well before it took place, even being gossiped about by militia-men stationed Dublin and Westport.[
Catholic Bernard Coile, from Lurgan, County Armagh, who had rose to become a merchant in the linen industry, called upon the local two parishes to agree to a non-aggression pact. This appears to have succeeded in regards to the Lurgan area, were no Lurgan men were amongst the combatants. There would also seem to have been adequate time for preparations, with one County Tyrone militia-man sending home a guinea to purchase a musket for the Defenders, and Peep o’ Day Boys scouring Moy, County Tyrone for gunpowder.
The fact word seems to have been so widespread meant that the government could not have been unaware that trouble was stirring.
The Peep o’ Day Boys are cited in three accounts of the battle as possessing Volunteer muskets, with additional weapons provided by local squires. One account, by Charles Teeling, who had given up hopes of being a mediator, stated that on his return to Lisburn, County Down, he saw re-formed Volunteer corps with all of their equipment heading for The Diamond.
The Defenders on the other hand may not all have been armed and possessing lesser quality firearms.
The days before the battle
The numbers had increased so much that by Friday 18 September 1795, a local magistrate, Captain Joseph Atkinson, who lived about a mile north of The Diamond, called for a peace conference between four Protestant landowners and three Catholic priests. A priest accompanying the Defenders persuaded them to seek a truce after a group called the “Bleary Boys” came from County Down to reinforce the Peep o’ Day Boys.
At some point large numbers of Defender reinforcements from counties Londonderry and Tyrone are claimed to have been prevented from crossing the River Blackwater by James Verner and his sons who led a detachment of the North-Mayo militia, based in Dungannon, northwards to seize the boats by the river.
The Defenders failed to await substantial reinforcements from Ballygawley, County Tyrone and Keady, County Armagh, and were starting to become panicked by the situation, being on enemy soil and winter not far away.
The landowners summoned by Atkinson were: Robert Camden Cope, of the grand Loughgall Manor, MP for County Armagh and Lieutenant Colonel of the Armagh Militia; Nicholas Richard Cope and his son Arthur Walter Cope, proprietors of the much smaller Drumilly estate; and James Hardy, the squire of Drumart.
The priests were father’s: Taggart, possibly Arthur Taggart, parish priest of Cookstown, County Tyrone, who was notoriously erratic; McParland, future parish priest of Loughgall from 1799, possibly Arthur McParland; and Trainor. William Blacker claims a leader of the Defenders, “Switcher Donnelly”, was also present. According to Patrick Tohall, there is reason to doubt the sincerity of all the delegates at this peace conference. He claims some may have used it to blindside the genuine peace-makers, with the two armed sides seeing the clash as inevitable.
On Saturday 19 September, the priests who had stayed the night in Atkinson’s house, left apparently satisfied at the outcome. There are conflicting accounts of what happened next. According to Tohall, writing in 1953, the local Catholics had obeyed the priests, and this is evidenced by none of them being counted amongst the eventual combatants. He goes on to state that the priests seemingly failed to go to Faughart Hill and persuade the Defenders. Blacker, who was there on the day of the battle on the Protestant side, however said when he was being questioned by a government Select Committee meeting on the Orange Order on 4 August 1835, that the Defenders had agreed to disperse and that the Peep o’ Day Boys would do likewise.
Later that day there was sporadic shooting, which didn’t trouble Atkinson, and this was followed on Sunday 20 September by overall quietness.
Some Defender reinforcements from County Tyrone however made it to The Diamond and appear to have encouraged their comrades to become:
“determined to fight”
and a decision seems to have been taken that night to advance the next day. Blacker claims:
“a large body of ‘Defenders’ not belonging to the County of Armagh, but assembled from Monaghan, Louth and I believe Cavan and Tyrone came down and were disappointed at finding a truce of this kind made, were determined not to go home without something to repay them for the trouble of their march”.
On the morning of 21 September, the Defenders, numbering around 300, made their way downhill from their base, occupying Dan Winter’s homestead, which lay to the north-west of The Diamond and directly in their line of advance. News of this advance reached the departing Peep o’ Day Boys who quickly reformed at the brow of the hill where they had made their camp. From this position, they gained three crucial advantages: the ability to comfortably rest their muskets, allowing for more accurate shooting; and a steep up-hill location which made it hard for attackers to scale; and a direct line-of-sight to Winter’s cottage which the Defenders made their rallying point.
This has been claimed as showing that the Peep o’ Day Boys had more experienced commanders.
The shooting began again in earnest, and after Atkinson gave his weapon and powder to the Peep o’ Day Boys, he rode to Charlemont Garrison for troops to quell the trouble. There was no effective unit stationed in the garrison at the time, despite the fact a detachment of the North-Mayo Militia was stationed in Dungannon and a detachment of the Queen’s County Militia was at Portadown.
The battle according to Blacker, was short and the Defenders suffered “not less than thirty” deaths. James Verner, whose account of the battle is based on hearsay, gives the total as being nearly thirty, whilst other reports give the figure as being forty-eight, however this may be taking into account those that died afterwards from their wounds.
A large amount of Defenders are also claimed to have been wounded. One of those claimed to have been killed was “McGarry of Whiterock”, the leader of the Defenders. The Peep o’ Day Boys on the other hand in the safety of the well-defended hilltop position suffered no casualties. Blacker praised the Bleary Boys for their prowess in the fight.
200th Anniversary Battle of the Diamond Parade 1995
See also: Orange Order and Peep o’ Day Boys § The Armagh outrages
In the aftermath of the battle, the Peep o’ Day Boys retired to James Sloans inn in Loughgall, and it was here that James Wilson, Dan Winter, and James Sloan would found the Orange Order, a defensive association pledged to defend :
“the King and his heirs so long as he or they support the Protestant Ascendancy”.
The first Orange lodge of this new organisation was established in Dyan, County Tyrone, founding place of the Orange Boys.
One historian claims that the victors saw the battle as:
“a Godly conquest, construed as a sanction for the spoliation of the homes of the Philistines”.
This saw violence directed firstly at the Catholics in the vicinity of The Diamond who had refrained the participating in the battle, before spreading throughout the county and further afield.
The winter of 1795–6, immediately following the battle, saw Protestants drive around 7,000 Catholics out of County Armagh in what became known as “the Armagh outrages”. In a sign that tension over the linen trade was still a burning issue, ‘Wreckers’ continued the Peep o’ Day Boys strategy of smashing looms and tearing webs in Catholic homes to eliminate competition.
This resulted in a reduction in the hotly competitive linen trade which had been in a brief slump. A consequence of this scattering of highly-political Catholics however was a spread of Defenderism throughout Ireland
We are a Protestant fraternity with members throughout the world. Autonomous Grand Lodges are found in Scotland, England, the United States of America, West Africa, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Our name comes from William III, Prince of Orange, and is kept because his victory over despotic power laid the foundation for the evolution of Constitutional Democracy in the British Isles.
Support for William of Orange in the British Isles led to the formation of Orange Societies to commemorate his victory at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690, but the largest and longest lasting groups were the Boyne Societies in Ireland.
In 1795, following the culmination of attacks on Protestants in County Armagh at the Battle of the Diamond , in which Protestants routed those who had attacked them and attempted to burn properties, it was decided to form an organisation which would protect Protestants. This body, drawing on existing Orange Clubs in the neighbourhood, was named the Loyal Orange Institution.
In modern times the Loyal Orange Institution continues to function, with thousands of members in Ireland many others across the world. Today defending Protestantism is not so literal as it was in 1795, but it requires us to take a stand for truth in an age of secularism and in order to defend our culture and traditions.
The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland was established in 1798. We hope you will learn more about us and the Orange tradition through this website.
It has also been criticised for associating with loyalist paramilitary groups. As a Protestant society, it does not accept non-Protestants as members unless they convert and adhere to the principles of Orangeism, nor does it accept Protestants married to Catholics. Orange marches through mainly Catholic and nationalist neighbourhoods in Northern Ireland are controversial and have often led to violence.
Since the 1690s commemorations—state-sponsored and those held by the lower classes—had been held throughout Ireland celebrating key dates in the Williamite War such as the Battle of the Boyne, Siege of Derry and the Siege of Cork. These followed a tradition started in Elizabethan England of celebrating key events in the Protestant calendar. By the 1740s there were organisations holding parades in Dublin such as the Boyne Club and the Protestant Society, both seen as forerunners to the Orange Order.
Throughout the 1780s, sectarian tension had been building in County Armagh, largely due to the relaxation of the Penal Law. Here the number of Protestants and Catholics (in what was then Ireland’s most populous county) were of roughly equal number, and competition between them to rent patches of land near markets was fierce. Drunken brawls between rival gangs had by 1786 become openly sectarian. These gangs eventually reorganised as the Protestant Peep o’ Day Boys and the Catholic Defenders, with the next decade in County Armagh marked by fierce sectarian conflict between both groups, which escalated and spread into neighbouring counties.
200th Anniversary Battle of the Diamond Parade 1995
In September 1795, at a crossroads known as “The Diamond” near Loughgall, Defenders and Peep o’ Day Boys gathered to fight each other. This initial stand-off ended without battle when the priest that accompanied the Defenders persuaded them to seek a truce, after a group called the “Bleary Boys” came from County Down to reinforce the Peep o’ Day Boys. When a contingent of Defenders from County Tyrone arrived on 21 September, however, they were “determined to fight”. The Peep o’ Day Boys quickly regrouped and opened fire on the Defenders. According to William Blacker, the battle was short and the Defenders suffered “not less than thirty” deaths.
After the battle had ended, the Peep o’ Days marched into Loughgall, and in the house of James Sloan they founded the Orange Order, which was to be a Protestant defence association made up of lodges. The principal pledge of these lodges was to defend “the King and his heirs so long as he or they support the Protestant Ascendancy“. At the start the Orange Order was a “parallel organisation” to the Defenders in that it was a secret oath-bound society that used passwords and signs.
One of the very few landed gentry that joined the Orange Order at the outset, William Blacker, was unhappy with some of the outcomes of the Battle of the Diamond. He says that a determination was expressed to “driving from this quarter of the county the entire of its Roman Catholic population”, with notices posted warning them “to Hell or Connaught”. Other people were warned by notices not to inform on local Orangemen or “I will Blow your Soul to the Low hils of Hell And Burn the House you are in”. Within two months, 7,000 Catholics had been driven out of County Armagh.
According to Lord Gosford, the governor of Armagh:
It is no secret that a persecution is now raging in this country… the only crime is… profession of the Roman Catholic faith. Lawless banditti have constituted themselves judges… and the sentence they have denounced… is nothing less than a confiscation of all property, and an immediate banishment.
A former Grand Master of the Order, also called William Blacker, and a former County Grand Master of Belfast, Robert Hugh Wallace have questioned this statement, saying whoever the Governor believed were the “lawless banditti”, they could not have been Orangemen as there were no lodges in existence at the time of his speech.
According to historian Jim Smyth:
Later apologists rather implausibly deny any connection between the Peep-o’-Day Boys and the first Orangemen or, even less plausibly, between the Orangemen and the mass wrecking of Catholic cottages in Armagh in the months following ‘the Diamond’ – all of them, however, acknowledge the movement’s lower class origins.
The Order’s three main founders were James Wilson (founder of the Orange Boys), Daniel Winter and James Sloan. The first Orange lodge was established in nearby Dyan, and its first grand master was James Sloan of Loughgall. Its first ever marches were to celebrate the Battle of the Boyne and they took place on 12 July 1796 in Portadown, Lurgan and Waringstown.
The United Irishmen rebellion
Flag of the United Irishmen.
The Society of United Irishmen was formed by liberal Presbyterians and Anglicans in Belfast in 1791. It sought reform of the Irish Parliament, Catholic Emancipation and the repeal of the Penal Laws. By the time the Orange Order was formed, the United Irishmen had become a revolutionary group advocating an independent Irish republic that would “Unite Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter”. United Irishmen activity was on the rise, and the government hoped to thwart it by backing the Orange Order from 1796 onward.
Irish nationalist historians Thomas A. Jackson and John Mitchel argued that the government’s goal was to hinder the United Irishmen by fomenting sectarianism, thereby creating disunity and disorder under pretence of “passion for the Protestant religion”. Mitchel wrote that the government invented and spread “fearful rumours of intended massacres of all the Protestant people by the Catholics”.
Historian Richard R Madden wrote that “efforts were made to infuse into the mind of the Protestant feelings of distrust to his Catholic fellow-countrymen”. Thomas Knox, British military commander in Ulster, wrote in August 1796 that :
“As for the Orangemen, we have rather a difficult card to play…we must to a certain degree uphold them, for with all their licentiousness, on them we must rely for the preservation of our lives and properties should critical times occur”.
The United Irishmen saw the Defenders as potential allies, and between 1794 and 1796 they formed a coalition. The United Irishmen, despite seeing the Defenders as “ignorant and poverty-stricken houghers and rick-burners” would claim in 1798 that they were indebted to the Armagh disturbances as the Orangemen had scattered politicised Catholics throughout the country and encouraged Defender recruitment, creating a proto-army for the United Irishmen to utilise.
The United Irishmen launched a rebellion in 1798. In Ulster, most of the United Irish commanders and many of the rebels were Protestant. Orangemen were recruited into the yeomanry to help fight the rebellion and “proved an invaluable addition to government forces”.
No attempt was made to disarm Orangemen outside the yeomanry, because they were seen as by far the lesser threat. It was also claimed that if an attempt had been made then “the whole of Ulster would be as bad as Antrim and Down”, where the United Irishmen rebellion was at its strongest. However, sectarian massacres by the Defenders in County Wexford “did much to dampen” the rebellion in Ulster.
The Scullabogue Barn massacre saw over 100 non-combatant (mostly Protestant) men, women, and children imprisoned in a barn which was then set alight, with the Catholic rebels ensuring none escaped, not even a child who it is claimed managed to break out only for a rebel to kill with his pike. In the trials that followed the massacres, evidence was recorded of anti-Orange sentiments being expressed by the rebels at Scullabogue. Partly as a result of this atrocity, the Orange Order quickly grew and large numbers of gentry with experience gained in the yeomanry came into the movement.
The homeland and birthplace of the Defenders was mid-Ulster and here they failed to participate in the rebellion, having been cowed into submission and surrounded by their Protestant neighbours who had been armed by the government. The sectarian attacks on them were so severe that Grand Masters of the Orange Order convened to find ways of reducing them.
According to Ruth Dudley Edwards and two former Grand Masters, Orangemen were among the first to contribute to repair funds for Catholic property damaged in the rebellion.
One major outcome of the United Irishmen rebellion was the 1800 Act of Union that merged the Irish Parliament with that of Westminster, creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Many Catholics supported the Act, but the Orange Order saw it as a threat to the “Protestant constitution” and 36 lodges in counties Armagh and Monaghan alone passed declarations opposing the Union.
Dolly’s Brae, site of the “Battle of Dolly’s Brae” (1849) between Orangemen and Catholic Ribbonmen
In the early nineteenth century, Orangemen were heavily involved in violent conflict with an Irish Catholic secret society called the Ribbonmen. One instance, publicised in a 7 October 1816 edition of the Boston Commercial Gazette, included the murder of a Catholic priest and several members of the congregation of Dumreilly parish in County Cavan on 25 May 1816. According to the article,
“A number of Orangemen with arms rushed into the church and fired upon the congregation”.
On 19 July 1823 the Unlawful Oaths Bill was passed, banning all oath-bound societies in Ireland. This included the Orange Order, which had to be dissolved and reconstituted. In 1825 a bill banning unlawful associations – largely directed at Daniel O’Connell and his Catholic Association, compelled the Orangemen once more to dissolve their association. When Westminster finally granted Catholic Emancipation in 1829, Roman Catholics were free to take seats as MPs (and take up various other positions of influence and power from which they had been excluded) and play a part in framing the laws of the land. The likelihood of Irish Catholic members holding the balance of power in the Westminster Parliament further increased the alarm of Orangemen in Ireland, as O’Connell’s ‘Repeal’ movement aimed to bring about the restoration of a separate Irish Parliament in Dublin, which would have a Catholic majority, thereby ending to the Protestant Ascendancy.
From this moment on, the Orange Order re-emerged in a new and even more militant form.
In 1845 the ban was again lifted, but the notorious Battle of Dolly’s Brae between Orangemen and Ribbonmen in 1849 led to a ban on Orange marches which remained in place for several decades. This was eventually lifted after a campaign of disobedience led by William Johnston of Ballykilbeg.
By the late 19th century, the Order was in decline. However, its fortunes were revived in the 1880s after its embrace by the landlords in opposition to both the Irish Land League and later Home Rule. The Order was heavily involved in opposition to Gladstone‘s first Irish Home Rule Bill 1886, and was instrumental in the formation of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). Protestant opposition to Irish self-government under Roman Catholic influence was intense, especially in the Protestant-dominated province of Ulster.
The Order helped to organise the 1912 Ulster Covenant – a pledge to oppose Home Rule which was signed by up to 500,000 people. In 1911 some Orangemen began to arm themselves and train as militias. In 1913 the Ulster Unionist Council decided to bring these groups under central control, creating the Ulster Volunteer Force, an Ulster-wide militia dedicated to resisting Home Rule. There was a strong overlap between Orange Lodges and UVF units.
A large shipment of rifles was imported from Germany to arm them in April 1914, in what became known as the Larne gun-running.
However, the crisis was interrupted by the outbreak of the World War I in August 1914, which caused the Home Rule Bill to be suspended for the duration of the war. Many Orangemen served in the war with the 36th (Ulster) Division, suffering heavy losses, and commemorations of their sacrifice are still an important element of Orange ceremonies.
James Craig, the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, maintained always that Ulster was in effect Protestant and the symbol of its ruling forces was the Orange Order. In 1932, Prime Minister Craig maintained that “ours is a Protestant government and I am an Orangeman”. This was in response to a speech the year before by Eamonn de Valera in the Irish Free State claiming that Ireland was a “Catholic nation” in a debate about protests against Protestant woman Letitia Dunbar-Harrison being appointed as County Librarian in County Mayo.
At its peak in 1965, the Order’s membership was around 70,000, which meant that roughly 1 in 5 adult Ulster Protestant males were members.Since 1965, it has lost a third of its membership, especially in Belfast and Derry. The Order’s political influence suffered greatly after the unionist-controlled government of Northern Ireland was abolished in 1973.
In 2012, it was stated that estimated membership of the Orange Order was around 34,000.
After the outbreak of “the Troubles” in 1969, the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland encouraged Orangemen to join the Northern Ireland security forces, especially the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and the British Army’s Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR). The response from Orangemen was strong. Over 300 Orangemen were killed during the conflict, the vast majority of them members of the security forces.
The Drumcree dispute is perhaps the most well-known episode involving the Order since 1921. On the Sunday before 12 July each year, Orangemen in Portadown would traditionally march to-and-from Drumcree Church. Originally, most of the route was farmland, but is now the densely populated Catholic part of town.
There have been intermittent violent clashes during the march since the 19th century. The onset of the Troubles led to the dispute intensifying in the 1970s and 1980s. At this time, the most contentious part of the march was the outward leg along Obins Street.
After serious violence two years in a row, the march was banned from Obins Street in 1986. The focus then shifted to the return leg along Garvaghy Road.
Each July from 1995 to 2000, the dispute drew worldwide attention as it sparked protests and violence throughout Northern Ireland, prompted a massive police/army operation, and threatened to derail the peace process.
The situation in Portadown was likened to a “war zone” and a “siege”. During this time, supporters of the Orangemen killed at least six Catholic civilians. In 1995 and 1996, residents succeeded in stopping the march. This led to a standoff at Drumcree between the security forces and thousands of loyalists. Following a wave of loyalist violence, the march was allowed through. In 1997, security forces locked down the Catholic area and forced the march through, citing loyalist threats.
This sparked widespread protests and violence by Irish nationalists. From 1998 onward the march was banned from Garvaghy Road and the Catholic area was sealed-off with large barricades. For a few years, there was an annual major standoff at Drumcree and widespread loyalist violence. Since 2001, things have been relatively calm, but the Order still campaigns for the right to march on Garvaghy Road. The dispute led to a short-lived boycott of businesses owned by Orangemen and their supporters elsewhere in the region, as well as to a marked decrease in the Order’s membership.
Membership of the Order was historically lower in areas where Protestants are in the majority, and vice versa. In County Fermanagh, where the Catholic and Protestant populations are close to parity, membership in 1971 was three times as high as in the more Protestant counties of Antrim and Down, where it was just over 10% of adult Protestant males.
Other factors that are associated with high rates of membership are levels of unemployment that more closely match Catholic levels, and low levels of support for the Democratic Unionist Party among unionists.
Beliefs and activities
Orange Order poster depicting historical and religious symbols
Previous rules specifically forbade Roman Catholics and their close relatives from joining but modern rules now use the wording “non-reformed faith”.
Converts to Protestantism can join by appealing to Grand Lodge.
Some evangelical groups have claimed that the Orange Order is still influenced by freemasonry. Many Masonic traditions survive, such as the organisation of the Order into lodges. The Order has a similar system of degrees through which new members advance. These degrees are interactive plays with references to the Bible. There is particular concern over the ritualism of higher degrees such as the Royal Arch Purple and the Royal Black Institutions.
The Order considers important the Fourth Commandment, and that it forbids Christians to work, or engage in non-religious activity generally, on Sundays. When the Twelfth of July falls on a Sunday the parades traditionally held on that date are held the next day instead. In March 2002, the Order threatened “to take every action necessary, regardless of the consequences” to prevent the Ballymena Show being held on a Sunday.
The County Antrim Agricultural Association complied with the Order’s wishes.
The Order, from its very inception, was an overtly political organisation. In 1905, when the Ulster Unionist Council (UUC) was formed, the Orange Order was entitled to send delegates to its meetings. The UUC was the decision-making body of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). Between 1922 and 1972, the UUP was consistently the largest party in the Northern Ireland Parliament, and all Prime Ministers of Northern Ireland and the vast majority of senior UUP figures were members of the Order. Due to its close links with the UUP, the Orange Order was able to exert great influence.
The Order was the force behind the UUP no-confidence votes in reformist Prime Ministers O’Neill (1969), Chichester-Clark (1969–71) and Faulkner (1972–74). At the outbreak of The Troubles in 1969, the Order encouraged its members to join the Northern Ireland security forces. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) attracted the most seats in an election for the first time in 2003. DUP leader Ian Paisley had been clashing with the Order since 1951, when the Order banned members of Paisley’s Free Presbyterian Church from acting as Orange chaplains and later, from the 1970s, when it openly endorsed the UUP against the DUP.
Recently, however, Orangemen have begun voting for the DUP in large numbers due to their opposition to the Good Friday Agreement. Relations between the DUP and Order have healed greatly since 2001, and there are now a number of high-profile Orangemen who are DUP MPs and strategists.
In December 2009, the Orange Order held secret talks with Northern Ireland’s two main unionist parties, the DUP and UUP. The main goal of these talks was to foster greater unity between the two parties, in the run-up to the May 2010 general election. Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey said that the talks exposed the Order as a “very political organisation”. Shortly after the election, Grand Master Robert Saulters called for a “single unionist party” to maintain the union. He said that the Order has members “who represent all the many shades of unionism” and warned, “we will continue to dilute the union if we fight and bicker among ourselves”.
“Linking the Catholic community or indeed any community to terror groups is inciting weak-minded people to hatred, and surely history tells us what that has led to in the past”.
In a 2011 survey of 1,500 Orangemen throughout Northern Ireland, over 60% believed that “most Catholics are IRA sympathizers”.
In 2015, the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland made a submission to the Northern Ireland Department of Arts, Culture and Leisure opposing the introduction of an Irish Language Bill. In its submission, the Lodge stated that it respected “Irish as one of the indigenous languages of the British Isles”. However, the Lodge argued an Irish Language Act would promote inequality because it would be “directed towards a section of the Roman Catholic community”.
Parades are a big part of the Order’s activities. Most Orange lodges hold a yearly parade from their Orange hall to a local church. The denomination of the church is quite often rotated, depending on local demographics.
The highlights of the Orange year are the parades leading up to the celebrations on the Twelfth of July. The Twelfth, however, remains in places a deeply divisive issue, not least because of the alleged triumphalism, anti-Catholicism and anti-Irish nationalism of the Orange Order. In recent years, most Orange parades have passed peacefully.
All but a handful of the Orange Order parades, at so called “interface areas” where the two communities live next to each other, are peaceful. The locations used for the annual Twelfth parades are located throughout the six counties of Northern Ireland with County Down having the most venues with thirty three.Counties Armagh and Fermanangh having a smaller population both have twelve host venues.
The Grand Lodge of Ireland does not recognise the Parades Commission, which it sees as having been founded to target Protestant parades, as Protestants parade at ten times the rate of Catholics. Grand Lodge is, however, divided on the issue of working with the Parades Commission. 40% of Grand Lodge delegates oppose official policy while 60% are in favour. Most of those opposed to Grand Lodge policy are from areas facing parade restrictions like Portadown District, Bellaghy, Derry City and Lower Ormeau.
In a 2011 survey of Orangemen throughout Northern Ireland, 58% said they should be allowed to march through Irish nationalist and Catholic areas with no restrictions; 20% said they should negotiate with residents first.
Rasharkin Orange hall daubed with republican graffiti
Clifton Street Orange Hall in Belfast, which has a protective cage. The statue on the roof is the only one of King William III of England on any Orange hall in Ireland
Monthly meetings are held in Orange halls. Orange halls on both sides of the Irish border often function as community halls for Protestants and sometimes those of other faiths, although this was more common in the past . The halls often host community groups such as credit unions, local marching bands, Ulster-Scots and other cultural groups as well as religious missions and unionist political parties.
Of the approximately 700 Orange halls in Ireland, 282 have been targeted by arsonists since the beginning of the Troubles in 1968. Paul Butler, a prominent member of Sinn Féin, has said the arson is a “campaign against properties belonging to the Orange Order and other loyal institutions” by nationalists.
On one occasion a member of Sinn Féin’s youth wing was hospitalised after falling off the roof of an Orange hall. In a number of cases halls have been badly damaged or completely destroyed by arson, while others have been damaged by paint bombings, graffiti and other vandalism.
The Order claims that there is considerable evidence of an organised campaign of sectarian vandalism by Irish republicans. Grand Secretary Drew Nelson claims that a statistical analysis shows that this campaign began in the last years of the 1980s and continues to the present.
One of the Orange Order’s activities is teaching members and the general public about William of Orange and associated subjects. Both the Grand Lodge and various individual lodges have published numerous booklets about William and the Battle of the Boyne, often aiming to show that they have continued relevance, and sometimes comparing the actions of William’s adversary James II with those of the Northern Ireland Office. Furthermore, historical articles are often published in the Order’s newspaper the Orange Standard and the Twelfth souvenir booklet. While William is the most frequent subject, other topics have included the Battle of the Somme (particularly the 36th (Ulster) Division‘s role in it), Saint Patrick (who the Order argues was not Roman Catholic), and the Protestant Reformation.
There are at least two Orange Lodges in Northern Ireland which they claim represent the heritage and religious ethos of Saint Patrick. The best known is the Cross of Saint Patrick LOL (Loyal Orange lodge) 688, instituted in 1968 for the purpose of (re)claiming Saint Patrick. The lodge has had several well known members, including Rev Robert Bradford MP who was the lodge chaplain who himself was killed by the Provisional IRA, the late Ernest Baird.
Today Nelson McCausland MLA and Gordon Lucy, Director of the Ulster Society are the more prominent members within the lodge membership. In the 1970s there was also a Belfast lodge called Oidhreacht Éireann (Ireland’s Heritage) LOL 1303, which argued that the Irish language and Gaelic culture were not the exclusive property of Catholics or republicans.
William was supported by the Pope in his campaigns against James’ backer Louis XIV of France, and this fact is sometimes left out of Orange histories.
Occasionally the Order and the more fundamentalist Independent Order publishes historical arguments based more on religion than on history. British Israelism, which claims that the British people are descended from the Israelites and that Queen Elizabeth II is a direct descendant of the Biblical King David, has from time to time been advanced in Orange publications.
Thiepval Memorial Lodge parade in remembrance of the Battle of the Somme.
The Order has been prominent in commemorating Ulster’s war dead, particularly Orangemen and particularly those who died in the Battle of the Somme (1916) during World War I. There are many parades on and around 1 July in commemoration of the Somme, although the war memorial aspect is more obvious in some parades than others. There are several memorial lodges, and a number of banners which depict the Battle of the Somme, war memorials, or other commemorative images. In the grounds of the Ulster Tower Thiepval, which commemorates the men of the Ulster Division who died in the Battle of the Somme, a smaller monument pays homage to the Orangemen who died in the war.
Relationship with loyalist paramilitaries
Orangemen carrying a banner of killed UVF member and Orangeman Brian Robinson in 2003
The Orange Order has been criticized for associating with loyalist paramilitary groups such as the UVF and UDA, which are classified as terrorist organizations. However, it has publicly condemned terrorism and paramilitary violence. Some bands that appear at Orange marches openly display support for loyalist paramilitary groups, such as by carrying paramilitary flags or sporting paramilitary names and emblems.
For example, prominent loyalist John Gregg was a member of Cloughfern Young Conquerors band, while Coleraine-based Freeman Memorial band was named after a UVF member who was killed by his own bomb. It has also been claimed that paramilitary groups approach certain bands asking the band to carry a flag of their organization with financial assistance sometimes offered for doing so.
The banner of Old Boyne Island Heroes Orange lodge bears the names of John Bingham and Shankill Butcher Robert Bates, who were both members. Another Shankill Butcher, UDR soldier Eddie McIlwaine, was pictured taking part in an Orange march in 2003 with a bannerette of killed UVF member Brian Robinson (who himself was an Orangeman). McIlwaine was also pictured acting as a steward at a 2014 Orange march. An Orange Order spokesman refused to condemn McIlwaine’s membership of the Order.
On 12 July 1972, at least fifty masked and uniformed members of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) escorted an Orange march into the Catholic area of Portadown, saluting the Orangemen as they passed. That year, Orangemen formed a paramilitary group called the Orange Volunteers. This group “bombed a pub in Belfast in 1973 but otherwise did little illegal other than collect the considerable bodies of arms found in Belfast Orange Halls”.
Portadown Orangemen allowed known militants such as George Seawright to take part in a 6 July 1986 march, contrary to a prior agreement. Seawright was a unionist politician and UVF member who had publicly proposed burning Catholics in ovens. As the march entered the town’s Catholic district, the RUC seized Seawright and other known militants. The Orangemen attacked the officers with stones and other missiles.
When a July 1992 Orange march passed the scene of the Sean Graham bookmakers’ shooting—in which the UDA killed five Catholic civilians—Orangemen shouted pro-UDA slogans and held aloft five fingers as a taunt to residents. Journalists Henry McDonald and Jim Cusack said images of Orangemen “gloating over the massacre” were beamed around the world and were a public relations disaster for the Order. Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said the marchers “would have disgraced a tribe of cannibals”. The incident led to a more concerted effort by residents to have the marches banned from the area.
In 2007, a banner commemorating UDA member Joe Bratty appeared at an Orange march. Bratty was said to have orchestrated the massacre.
Orange lodges in Britain have also been accused of links with loyalist paramilitaries. In the early years of The Troubles, the Order’s Grand Secretary in Scotland toured Orange lodges for volunteers to “go to Ulster to fight”. Thousands are believed to have volunteered although only a small number travelled to Ulster.
During the 1970s an Orangeman—Roddy MacDonald—was the UDA’s ‘commander’ in Scotland. In 1976, senior Scottish Orangemen tried to expel him after he admitted on television that he was a UDA leader and had smuggled weapons to Northern Ireland. However, his expulsion was blocked by 300 Orangemen at a special disciplinary hearing. His successor as Scottish UDA commander, James Hamilton, was also an Orangeman. Many Scottish Orangemen were also convicted for loyalist paramilitary activity, and some Orange meetings were used to raise funds for loyalist prisoners’ welfare groups.
In 2006, three Liverpool Orangemen were jailed for possession of weapons and UVF membership. Local MP Louise Ellman called for them to be expelled from the Orde.
Stoneyford Orange Hall in County Antrim
During the Drumcree standoffs, loyalist militants publicly supported the Orangemen and launched waves of violence across NI in protest at the Orange march being blocked. They smuggled homemade weaponry to Drumcree, apparently unhindered by the Orangemen, and attacked police lines. Members of the UDA/UFF appeared at Drumcree with banners supporting the Orangemen. Portadown Orange Lodge said it could not stop such people from gathering, but added that it welcomed any support.
Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) leader Billy Wright was frequently seen at Drumcree in the company of Harold Gracey, head of Portadown Orange Lodge. Gracey later attended a rally in support of Wright and refused to condemn the loyalist violence linked to the standoff.
In the late 1990s, Stoneyford Orange Hall was reported to be a focal point for the Orange Volunteers. Following a police raid on the hall, two Orangemen were convicted for possession of “documents likely to be of use to terrorists”, an automatic rifle, and membership of the Orange Volunteers.
Their Orange lodge refused to expel them.
An Orangeman and DUP election candidate with links to the Real UFF in Antrim was jailed in 2013 for his part in a sectarian attack on a Polish family. He was expelled from the Order.
The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland has issued several statements condemning violence and paramilitarism. Answering accusations of paramilitary links by Sinn Féin in 2011, an Orange spokesman said: “The Orange Order has consistently condemned all terrorist violence”.
In 2008, Armagh Orangemen condemned the flying of paramilitary flags. Denis Watson, the then secretary of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, has publicly called for anyone convicted of terrorist offences to be thrown out. Addressing a 12 July demonstration in 2000, Orangeman and Democratic Unionist politician Jeffrey Donaldson said
“It is essential that the Orange Order does not allow the paramilitaries to infiltrate its parades or hijack legitimate protests as a means of flaunting their aggression and engaging in displays of naked intimidation …
The Orange Order stands for higher ideals than this and must at every opportunity condemn the illegal activities of the paramilitaries and of all those who engage in acts of violence”. Eric Kaufmann, in his book The New Unionism, writes: “The Orange Order actually took a firm stand against violence and paramilitarism throughout the Troubles. This opposition was rooted in the large contingent of Protestant clergymen who are built into the power structure of the Order. Young Orangemen were urged to join the RUC (police) or UDR (local security forces) and to stay away from paramilitaries”
Requirements for entry
“An Orangeman should have a sincere love and veneration for his Heavenly Father, a humble and steadfast faith in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, believing in Him as the only Mediator between God and man. He should cultivate truth and justice, brotherly kindness and charity, devotion and piety, concord and unity, and obedience to the laws; his deportment should be gentle and compassionate, kind and courteous; he should seek the society of the virtuous, and avoid that of the evil; he should honour and diligently study the Holy Scriptures, and make them the rule of his faith and practice; he should love, uphold, and defend the Protestant religion, and sincerely desire and endeavour to propagate its doctrines and precepts; he should strenuously oppose the fatal errors and doctrines of the Church of Rome and other Non-Reformed faiths, and scrupulously avoid countenancing (by his presence or otherwise) any act or ceremony of Roman Catholic or other non-Reformed Worship; he should, by all lawful means, resist the ascendancy, encroachments, and the extension of their power, ever abstaining from all uncharitable words, actions, or sentiments towards all those who do not practice the Reformed and Christian Faith; he should remember to keep holy the Sabbath Day, and attend the public worship of God, and diligently train up his offspring, and all under his control, in the fear of God, and in the Protestant faith; he should never take the name of God in vain, but abstain from all cursing and profane language, and use every opportunity of discouraging those, and all other sinful practices, in others; his conduct should be guided by wisdom and prudence, and marked by honesty, temperance, and sobriety, the glory of God and the welfare of man, the honour of his Sovereign, and the good of his country, should be the motives of his actions.”.
Most jurisdictions require both the spouse and parents of potential applicants to be Protestant, although the Grand Lodge can be appealed to make exceptions for converts. Members have been expelled for attending Roman Catholic religious ceremonies. In the period from 1964 to 2002, 11% of those expelled from the order were expelled for their presence at a Roman Catholic religious event such as a baptism, service or funeral.
This is based on Reformed Christian theology, which teaches that the Roman Catholic Mass is idolatry, a view promulgated by Protestant Reformers such as Martin Luther.
The Order takes as its basis the Open Bible and historical Reformed documents such as the Presbyterian Westminster Confession, Anglican 39 Articles and other Protestant creeds.All prospective members must affirm their Reformed Christian Faith prior to membership.
The Laws and Constitutions of the Loyal Orange Institution of Scotland of 1986 state, “No ex-Roman Catholic will be admitted into the Institution unless he is a Communicant in a Protestant Church for a reasonable period.” Likewise, the “Constitution, Laws and Ordinances of the Loyal Orange Institution of Ireland” (1967) state, “No person who at any time has been a Roman Catholic … shall be admitted into the Institution, except after permission given by a vote of seventy five per cent of the members present founded on testimonials of good character …” In the 19th century, Rev. Mortimer O’Sullivan, a converted Roman Catholic, was a Grand Chaplain of the Orange Order in Ireland. In the 1950s, Scotland also had a former Roman Catholic as a Grand Chaplain, the Rev. William McDermott.
The Orange Institution in Ireland has the structure of a pyramid. At its base are about 1400 private lodges; every Orangeman belongs to a private lodge. Each private lodge sends six representatives to the district lodge, of which there are 126. Depending on size, each district lodge sends seven to thirteen representatives to the county lodge, of which there are 12. Each of these sends representatives to the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, which heads the Orange Order.
The Grand Lodge of Ireland has 373 members. As a result, much of the real power in the Order resides in the Central Committee of the Grand Lodge, which is made up of three members from each of the six counties of Northern Ireland (Down, Antrim, Armagh, Londonderry, Tyrone and Fermanagh) as well as the two other County Lodges in Northern Ireland, the City of Belfast Grand Lodge and the City of Derry Grand Orange Lodge, two each from the remaining Ulster counties (Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan), one from Leitrim, and 19 others. There are other committees of the Grand Lodge, including rules revision, finance, and education.
Despite this hierarchy, private lodges are basically autonomous as long as they generally obey the rules of the Institution. Breaking these can lead to suspension of the lodge’s warrant – essentially the dissolution of the lodge – by the Grand Lodge, but this rarely occurs.Private lodges may disobey policies laid down by senior lodges without consequence. For example, several lodges have failed to expel members convicted of murder despite a rule stating that anyone convicted of a serious crime should be expelled, and Portadown lodges have negotiated with the Parades Commission in defiance of Grand Lodge policy that the Commission should not be acknowledged.
Private lodges wishing to change Orange Order rules or policy can submit a resolution to their district lodge, which may submit it upwards until it eventually reaches the Grand Lodge.
All Lodge meetings commence with the reading of the Bible and prayers that non-practising Protestants, Roman Catholics and people of other faiths and none, ‘may become wise unto salvation’ (which is direct quote from 2 Timothy 3:15 in the Bible).
An Orangewoman marching in an Orange Order parade in Glasgow.
Association of Loyal Orangewomen of Ireland
A distinct women’s organisation grew up out of the Orange Order. Called the Association of Loyal Orangewomen of Ireland, this organisation was revived in December 1911 having been dormant since the late 1880s. They have risen in prominence in recent years, largely due to protests in Drumcree. The women’s order is parallel to the male order, and participates in its parades as much as the males apart from ‘all male’ parades and ‘all ladies’ parades respectively. The contribution of women to the Orange Order is recognised in the song “Ladies Orange Lodges O!”.
Independent Orange Institution
The Independent Orange Institution was formed in 1903 by Thomas Sloane, who opposed the main Order’s domination by Unionist Party politicians and the upper classes. The Independent Order originally had radical tendencies, especially in the area of labour relations, but this soon faded. In the 1950s and 60s the Independents focussed primarily on religious issues, especially the maintenance of Sunday as a holy day. With the outbreak of the Troubles, Ian Paisley began regularly speaking at Independent meetings, although he was never a member.
As a result, the Independent Institution has become associated with Paisley and the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster and Democratic Unionist Party. Recently the relationship between the two Orange Institutions has improved, with joint church services being held. Some people believe that this will ultimately result in a healing of the split which led to the Independent Orange Institution breaking away from the mainstream Order. Like the main Order, the Independent Institution parades and holds meetings on the Twelfth of July. It is based mainly in County Antrim.
The Royal Black Institution was formed out of the Orange Order two years after the founding of the parent body. Although it is a separate organisation, one of the requirements for membership in the Royal Black is membership of the Orange Order and to be no less than 17 years old. The membership is exclusively male and the Royal Black Chapter is generally considered to be more religious and respectable in its proceedings than the Orange Order.
Apprentice Boys of Derry
Apprentice Boys Of Derry Relief Of Derry Parade 2013
The Apprentice Boys of Derry exist for their acts during the siege of Derry from James II. Although they have no formal connection with the Orange Order, the two societies have overlapping membership.
Throughout the world
The Orange Order was brought to other parts of the English-speaking world by Ulster Protestant migrants and missionaries. Grand Lodges have been set up in Scotland, England, Wales, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and West Africa. However, the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland have always been the largest by far. The Imperial Grand Orange Council is made up of representatives from all of these various Grand Lodges. It has the power to arbitrate in disputes between Grand Lodges, and in internal disputes when invited.
Famous Orangemen have included Dr Thomas Barnardo, who joined the Order in Dublin; Mackenzie Bowell, who was Grandmaster of the Orange Order of British North America before becoming the Prime Minister of Canada; William Massey, who was Prime Minister of New Zealand; Harry Ferguson, inventor of the Ferguson tractor; and Earl Alexander, the Second World War general. Mohawk chief Dr Oronhyatekha, an Oxford scholar, was also a membe
Republic of Ireland
An Orange Hall In Monaghan
The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland represents lodges in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, where Orangeism remains particularly strong in border counties such as Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan. Before the partition of Ireland the Order’s headquarters were in Dublin, which at one stage had more than 300 private lodges. After partition the Order declined rapidly in the Republic of Ireland. The last 12 July parade in Dublin took place in 1937. The last Orange parade in the Republic of Ireland is at Rossnowlagh, County Donegal, an event which has been largely free from trouble and controversy.
It is held on the Saturday before the Twelfth as the day is not a holiday in the Republic of Ireland. There are still Orange lodges in nine counties of the Republic of Ireland – counties Cavan, Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Laois, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan and Wicklow, but most either do not parade or travel to other areas to do so.
In 2005, controversy was generated when the organisers of Cork’sSt Patrick’s Day parade invited representatives of the Orange Order to parade in the celebrations, part of the year-long celebration of Cork’s position of European Capital of Culture. The Order accepted the invitation and was to parade with their wives and children alongside Chinese, Filipino and African community groups in an event designed to recognise and celebrate cultural diversity. Subsequently, after consultation with the Garda Síochána, the Order’s grand secretary, Drew Nelson, said both his organisation and the parade organisers were disappointed that the Order would not be attending the festivities. He added that he welcomed the invitation and hoped the Order would be able to participate in the event next year.
A Church of Ireland clergyman, Rev. David Armstrong, spoke out against the invitation.
In February 2008 it was announced that the Orange Order was to be granted nearly €250,000 from the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. The grant is intended to provide support for members in border areas and fund the repair of Orange halls, many of which have been subjected to vandalism.
The Scottish branch of the Orange Order is the largest outside Ireland. The vast majority of Scotland’s lodges are found in the Lowlands, especially the west Central Lowlands (Glasgow, Ayrshire, Renfrewshire, Lanarkshire).
Scotland’s first Orange lodges were founded in 1798 by soldiers returning home from Ireland, where they had helped suppress an Irish republican rebellion. The Scottish branch grew swiftly in the early 1800s, when there was an influx of working-class Ulster Protestant immigrants into the Scottish Lowlands. Many of these immigrants saw themselves as returning to the land of their forefathers .
As such, the Scottish branch has always had strong links with Northern Ireland, and tends to be largest wherever there are most descendants of Irish Protestants. In 1881, three-quarters of its lodge masters were born in Ireland and, when compared to Canada, the Scottish branch has been both smaller (no more than two percent of adult male Protestants in west central Scotland have ever been members) and had more of an Ulster link.
Scottish Orangeism was associated with the Tory party. The Order’s political influence crested between the World Wars, but was effectively nil thereafter as the Tory party began to move away from Protestant politics.
After the onset of the Troubles, many Scottish Orangemen began giving support to loyalist militant groups in Northern Ireland, such as the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). Although the Grand Lodge publicly denounced paramilitary groups, many Scottish Orangemen were convicted of involvement in loyalist paramilitary activity and Orange meetings were used to raise funds for loyalist prisoners’ welfare groups.
In 2004 former Scottish Orangeman Adam Ingram, then Armed Forces Minister, sued George Galloway for stating in his book I’m Not the Only One that Ingram had “played the flute in a sectarian, anti-Catholic, Protestant-supremacist Orange Order band”. Judge Lord Kingarth ruled that the phrase was ‘fair comment‘ on the Orange Order and that Ingram had been a member, although he had not played the flute.
England and Wales
An Orange Order parade in Hyde Park, London, June 2007
Manchester Orange Order at Scarborough Parade 2010
The Orange Order reached England in 1807, spread by soldiers returning to the Manchester area from service in Ireland. Since then, the English branch of the Order has generally supported the Conservative and Unionist Party.
Liverpool Loyal Orange Lodge – 2015 Whit Monday
The Orange Order in England is strongest in Liverpool including Toxteth and Garston. Its presence in Liverpool dates to at least 1819, when the first parade was held to mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne, on 12 July. The Order was an important component in the founding of the Liverpool Protestant Party in 1909, keeping an association until the party’s demise in 1974.
The Orange Order in Liverpool holds its annual Twelfth parade in Southport, a seaside town north of Liverpool. The Institution also holds a Junior parade there on Whit Monday. The Black Institution holds its Southport parade on the first Saturday in August. The parades in Southport have attracted controversy in recent times, with criticism of the disruption that from the closure of main roads.
Other parades are held in Liverpool on the Sunday prior to the Twelfth and on the Sunday after. These parades along with St George’s day; Reformation Sunday and Remembrance Sunday go to and from church. Other parades are held by individual Districts of the Province – in all approximately 30 parades a year.
Cymru LOL 1922 was the only Orange lodge in Wales. A new Lodge in Cardiff opened on 17 March 2012, the first new Orange Lodge to be opened there for over 90 years.
Founded by Ogle Gowan, in Brockville Ontario, the Orange Order played an important role in the history of Canada, where it was established in 1830. Most early members were from Ireland, but later many English, Scots, Italians and other Protestant Europeans joined the Order, as well as Mohawk Native Americans. Toronto was the epicentre of Canadian Orangeism: most mayors were Orange until the 1950s, and Toronto Orangemen battled against Ottawa-driven initiatives like bilingualism and Catholic immigration. The Toronto lodge has held an annual Orange parade since 1821, claiming it to be the longest running consecutive parade on the North American continent.
A Brief History: The Orange Order in Canada
A third of the Ontario legislature was Orange in 1920, but in Newfoundland, the proportion has been as high as 50% at times. Indeed, between 1920 and 1960, 35% of adult male Protestant Newfoundlanders were Orangemen, as compared with just 20% in Northern Ireland and 5%–10% in Ontario in the same period.
In addition to Newfoundland and Ontario, the Orange Order played an important role in the frontier regions of Quebec, including the Gatineau–Pontiac, Quebec region. The region’s earliest Protestant settlement occurred when fifteen families from County Tipperary settled in the valley in Carleton County after 181
These families spread across the valley, settling towns near Shawville, Quebec. Despite these early Protestant migrants, it was only during the early 1820s that a larger wave of Irish migrants, many of them Protestants, came to the Ottawa valley region. Orangism developed throughout the region’s Protestant communities, including Bristol, Lachute– Brownsburg, Shawville and Quyon
After further Protestant settlement throughout the 1830s and 40s, the Pontiac region’s Orange Lodges developed into the largest rural contingent of Orangism in the Province.[ The Orange Lodges were seen as community cultural centres, as they hosted numerous dances, events, parades, and even the teaching of step dancing Orange Parades still occur in the Pontiac-Gatineau- Ottawa Valley area; however, not every community hosts a parade. Now one larger parade is hosted by a different town every year
A picture of the Orange Order headquarters in New York City during the 1871 riot
American Orange Lodge The Twelfth – Magherafelt 2006
Participation in the Orange Institution was not as large in the United States as it was in Canada. In the early nineteenth century, the post-Revolutionary republican spirit of the new United States attracted exiled Protestant United Irishman such as Wolfe Tone and others Most Protestant Irish immigrants in the first several decades of the century were those who held to the republicanism of the 1790s, and who were unable to accept Orangeism. Loyalists and Orangemen made up a minority of Irish Protestant immigrants during this period.
America offered a new beginning, and “…most descendents of the Ulster Presbyterians of the eighteenth century and even many new Protestant Irish immigrants turned their backs on all associations with Ireland and melted into the American Protestant mainstream.”
The first “Orange riot” on record was in 1824, in Abingdon, New York, resulting from a 12 July march. Several Orangemen were arrested and found guilty of inciting the riot. According to the State prosecutor in the court record, “the Orange celebration was until then unknown in the country”. The immigrants involved were admonished: “In the United States the oppressed of all nations find an asylum, and all that is asked in return is that they become law-abiding citizens. Orangemen, Ribbonmen, and United Irishmen are alike unknown. They are all entitled to protection by the laws of the countr
By 1870, when there were about 930 Orange lodges in the Canadian province of Ontario, there were only 43 in the entire eastern United States. These few American lodges were founded by newly arriving Protestant Irish immigrants in coastal cities such as Philadelphia and New York. These ventures were short-lived and of limited political and social impact, although there were specific instances of violence involving Orangemen between Catholic and Protestant Irish immigrants, such as the Orange Riots in New York City in 1824, 1870 and 1871.
The Orange riots of 1870 and 1871 killed nearly 70 people, and were fought out between Irish Protestant and Catholic immigrants. After this the activities of the Orange Order were banned for a time, the Order dissolved, and most members joined Masonic lodges. After 1871, there were no more riots between Irish Catholics and Protestants.
In 1923 the Loyal Orange Institution of the United States of America had 32,862 members in 256 lodges. The office of the “Supreme Grand Secretary” was at 229 Rhode Island Avenue, Washington, D.C.. There was apparently a split in the group in the early 1920s.
Qualifications for membership were restrictive. According to their “Declaration of Principles”: “No person who ever was or is a Roman Catholic, or who shall educate, or cause to be educated, his children or any children in his charge, in any Roman Catholic school, convent, nunnery or monastery, shall ever be admitted to membership.”
The Institution maintained a home for sick and aged members
There are currently two Orange Lodges in New York City, one in Manhattan and the other in the Bronx.
The Ulster-Scots LOL 1690 was established in Torrance, California in 1998 It was the first new lodge to be instituted in the US for more than 20 years.
Grand Orange Lodge of Australia @ Donegal 2009
The first Orange Institution Warrant (No. 1780) arrived in Australia with the ship Lady Nugent in 1835. It was sewn in the tunic of Private Andrew Alexander of the 50th Regiment. The 50th was mainly Irish; many of its members were Orangemen belonging to the Regimental lodge and they had secretly decided to retain their lodge warrant when they had been ordered to surrender all military warrants, believing that the order would eventually be rescinded and that the warrant would be useful in Austral
There are five state Grand Lodges in Australia which sit under the warrant of the Grand Lodge of Australia, the overall governing body for the institution in Australia.
Former Orange hall in Auckland, New Zealand. Now a church.
New Zealand’s first Orange lodge was founded in Auckland in 1842, only two years after the country became part of the British Empire, by James Carlton Hill of County Wicklow. The lodge initially had problems finding a place to meet, as several landlords were threatened by Irish Catholic immigrants for hosting it.
The arrival of large numbers of British troops to fight the New Zealand land wars of the 1860s provided a boost for New Zealand Orangeism, and in 1867 a North Island Grand Lodge was formed. A decade later a South Island Grand Lodge was formed, and the two merged in 1908.
From the 1870s the Order was involved in local and general elections, although Rory Sweetman argues that ‘the longed-for Protestant block vote ultimately proved unobtainable’. Processions seem to have been unusual before the late 1870s: the Auckland lodges did not march until 1877 and in most places Orangemen celebrated the Twelfth and 5 November with dinners and concerts. The emergence of Orange parades in New Zealand was probably due to a Catholic revival movement which took place around this time. Although some parades resulted in rioting, Sweetman argues that the Order and its right to march were broadly supported by most New Zealanders, although many felt uneasy about the emergence of sectarianism in the colony.
Te Ara: The Encyclopaedia of New Zealand argues that New Zealand Orangeism, along with other Protestant and anti-Catholic organisations, faded from the 1920s.The Order has certainly declined in visibility since that decade, although in 1994 it was still strong enough to host the Imperial Orange Council for its biennial meeting. However parades have ceased, and most New Zealanders are probably unaware of the Order’s existence in their country. The New Zealand Order is unusual in having mixed-gender lodges, and at one point had a female Grand Master.
The Orange Order in Ghana was founded by Ulster-Scots missionaries some time during the early twentieth century, and is currently supported by the Institute of Ulster Scots Studies . Its rituals mirror those of the Orange Order in Ulster, though it does not place restrictions on membership for those who have Roman Catholic family members. The Orange Order in Ghana appears to be growing, largely based with the growing democracy there.
The first Orange Lodge in Nigeria was the Lagos Fine Blues LOL 801, which was first listed in 1907 in the returns of Woolwhich District 64 to the Grand Orange Lodge of England. Altogether there were three male lodges and one female lodge. They all appear to have died out some time in the 1960s, due to political unrest. Conversely the Ghana lodges increased greatly in popularity with the return of democracy.
In 1915 John Amate Atayi, a member of the Lagos Fine Blues LOL 801 moved to Lome, Togo, for work. Here he founded the Lome Defenders of the Truth LOL 867, under warrant of the Grand Orange Lodge of England. In 1916 a second lodge, Paline Heroes LOL No 884 was constituted.
As part of the re-branding of Orangeism to encourage younger people into a largely ageing membership, and as part of the planned rebranding of the July marches into an ‘Orangefest’, the ‘superhero’ Diamond Dan was created – named after one of its founding members, ‘Diamond’ Dan Winter – Diamond referring to the Institution’s formation at the Diamond, Loughgall, in 1795.
Initially unveiled with a competition for children to name their new mascot in November 2007 (it was nicknamed ‘Sash Gordon‘ by several parts of the British media); at the official unveiling of the character’s name in February 2008, Orange Order education officer David Scott said Diamond Dan was meant to represent the true values of the Order: “…the kind of person who offers his seat on a crowded bus to an elderly lady unless, of course, she is catholic, Irish or vaguely human. He won’t drop litter and he will be keen on recycling”. There were plans for a range of Diamond Dan merchandise designed to appeal to children.
There was however, uproar when it was revealed in the middle of the ‘Marching Season’ that Diamond Dan was a repaint of illustrator Dan Bailey‘s well-known “Super Guy” character (often used by British computer magazines), and taken without his permission, leading to the character being lampooned as “Bootleg Billy”.
Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles
Monday 5 May 1969
August 1969; Civil Rights marches
Sunday 2 May 1976
Seamus Ludlow (47), a Catholic civilian, who was an unmarried forestry worker from Thistle Cross, Dundalk, County Louth, was killed in the early hours of the morning.
He was shot a number of times.
[Initially the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was suspected by some members of the Garda Siochana (the Irish police). Later members of Ludlow’s family came to the conclusion that the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) / Red Hand Commando (RHC) were responsible. The family have pressed the Iriish government for an Inquiry.
On 3 November 2005 an interim report (PDF; 1650KB) into the killing was published.]
Thursday 2 May 1974
The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) exploded a bomb at the Rose and Crown public house on the Ormeau Road, Belfast, killing six Catholic civilians and injuring a further 18.
A woman member of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) was shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) during a gun and rocket attack on the UDR base in Clogher, County Tyrone.
The Irish government brought a case of torture against the British government to the European Commission on Human Rights. The case related to the treatment of Internees held in Northern Ireland
Monday 2 May 1977
In a last minute attempt to avoid the planned United Unionist Action Council (UUAC) strike Roy Mason, then Secretary of State, met leaders of the UUAC including Ian Paisley and Ernest Baird but the talks broke up without any agreement.
Ian Paisley rejected allegations that the UUAC was using the strike as cover to secure independence for Ulster but warned that if it did take place he could not guarantee that intimidation would not take place.
At Belfast docks workers decided by a small majority not to support the UUAC strike.
In areas of Belfast, including the Shankill and Crumlin Road, there were reports of a number of food vans being hijacked and their contents stolen.
In an interview Fred Mulley, then British Defence Secretary, warned that it might be impossible for the Army to maintain essential services.
Thomas Passmore, then County Grand Master of the Orange Order in Belfast, alleged that he had received death threats in the wake of his public opposition to the strike.
An opinion poll carried out by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) highlighted that although some 78 per cent of people interviewed opposed the UUAC stoppage, 93 per cent of Protestants and 43 per cent of Catholics supported a tougher security response against the IRA.
The RUC announce that it had set up a special anti-intimidation squad in order to try to counter the use of the tactic during the proposed strike.
Just before midnight, in a reverse of an earlier decision, 400 workers walked out of the Belfast shipyard.
Wednesday 2 May 1984
Report of New Ireland Forum
The Report of the New Ireland Forum was published. The authors of the report criticised Britain’s policy of ‘crisis management’ since 1968. The report set out three possible options for the future of Northern Ireland: join with the Republic in a United Ireland; joint authority over the region by the Republic of Ireland and Britain; a federal or confederal arrangement.
Charles Haughey, then leader of Fianna Fáil (FF), said that unity was the only option. The report rejects the use of violence to achieve political change in Northern Ireland.
Friday 2 May 1986
John Hermon, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), stated that fifty RUC families and 79 Catholic families had their homes fire-bombed by Loyalists between 1 and 26 April 1986.
Hermon condemned the attacks and accused some Unionist politicians of “consorting with paramilitary elements”.
Saturday 2 May 1992
The Garda Síochána (the Irish police) uncovered a large cache of arms, including 51 automatic rifles, in a concealed bunker at a farm near Newmarket, County Cork.
Thursday 2 May 1996
Conor Cruise O’Brien, formally an Irish Labour Party Minister, announced that he would stand in the forth-coming Northern Ireland elections on behalf of the United Kingdom Unionists (UKU).
Saturday 2 May 1998
Loyalist paramilitaries carried out a ‘punishment’ shooting attack on a 34 year old man in Forthriver Road in north Belfast.
[It was claimed that ‘mainstream Loyalists’, who were supposed to be observing a ceasefire, were responsible for the shooting.]
There were reports in local newspapers that a security force listening device had been planted in a house used by Gerry Kelly, then a senior Sinn Féin (SF) member.
Sunday 2 May 19997
A 16 year-old Catholic boy was attacked and badly beaten by a group of approximately 20 Loyalists in north Belfast. His arm was broken and he was left unconscious. The assailants also attacked the boy’s girlfriend