Orange Order’s Flag Day: Tricolour must be reclaimed
(John Coulter, Irish Daily Star)
Orangemen, especially those in the Southern border counties, should reclaim the Irish tricolour as part of their heritage and history.
Orangeism likes to boast about its brother organisations across the globe, such as Canada, New Zealand, Australia as well as the African states of Togo and Ghana.
The Order’s new European Union-funded Orange Heritage Museum in east Belfast has up to nine different flags associated with Orangeism.
But the Order has delivered a massive two-fingered salute to four of its thriving county lodges in the Republic – Donegal, Monaghan, Cavan and Leitrim.
In a few days’ time, those Southern lodges will host one of the most popular of the Orange commemorations in the Republic – but not a tricolour in sight.
Southern Irish-based members of the Loyal Orders must be the only brethren and sisters who cannot parade proudly behind the national flag of the state in which they live.
Using its cartoon character, Diamond Dan, the Order has launched a charm offensive in Catholic schools to convince young pupils that Orangeism is not about ‘hating Fenians’.
So it’s okay for Orange historians to lecture young Catholics about the history of the Order, but it’s not proper for its own Orange members to walk behind the national flag of a country where it has a substantial presence.
The pathetic spin which the Order pumps out is that all its Southern members see themselves as pro-British in culture and, therefore, prefer to march behind the banner of St Patrick, noting that St Paddy’s Cross is part of the Union Jack.
More militant Orangemen may point to the fact that IRA and INLA murder gangs used the Republic to launch sectarian genocide against the Northern Protestants from the safety of their bases.
They point how dead IRA men would often be honoured with the Irish tricolour bedecking their coffins.
And it was supporters of that same flag which ambushed Orangemen at prayer in the Tullyvallen Orange Hall massacre in the 1970s.
But the Order has got to start thinking with its head and not its feet. The Shinners would be left in a real mess if Orangemen paraded through the Donegal seaside resort of Rossnowlagh with the Irish tricolour at their head.
With the formal centenary of the 1916 Rising less than a year away, the Order could really pull a fast one by getting as many of its Southern lodges to make the Irish flag as part of their colour parties.
After all, the tricolour and Union flag have already been displayed side by side at a few events to mark the centenaries of some of the bloodiest battles of World War One.
Folklore has it that Rising boss James Connolly wanted the tricolour to symbolise the coming together of the Orange and Green traditions in a new, independent Ireland.
But a leading Orangeman once told me the Irish tricolour was really the Papal flag of the Vatican couple with the green of nationalism.
I once preached a Gospel sermon in a Protestant church during which I produced the Irish flag as my prop! I got out alive, too!
The green stands for the green hill of Calvary where Christ was crucified; the while for the Great White Throne where God will sit on Judgement Day; the orange for the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Using this religious interpretation of the Irish flag, perhaps churches hosting all Loyal Order services could have the tricolour on display.
The Orders must recognise that the Irish tricolour is as much as part of their heritage as the Union flag, rather than just an emblem to be burned. That would be a unique 12 July Resolution for the traditional Demonstration Fields!