The McAleese presidency and the Orange Order

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 19.18.37

Picture by T C Loften

It’s odd how complicated the world is. And the people in it. Take, if you will, events at Aras An Uachtarain  during the presidency of  President Mary McAleese. It’d be fair to say that she and her husband Martin transfomed relationships between the Orange Order and the Irish Presidency, wouldn’t it? Every Twelfth a big party thrown in the grounds of the Aras, the place teeming with Orange Order members and their supporters – a truly trailblazing affair, led by Mary and Martin.

Only inside the past few weeks I’ve received a communication that gives a slightly different view on things. This person, who let’s say should know, says that the sequence of events were this.

President McAleese approached the Orange Order in Belfast and invited them to come for a bunfest.  Predictably, the Orange Order turned a thumb’s-down to any such thing.  At that point a figure in the Orange Order in the south, who believed firmly that the Orange Order was part of Irish history and not British history, got in touch with the Aras, saying he thought he could make this meeting between the Order and the President happen. After a lunch with President McAleese, he contacted the Orange Order in the north, told them his southern Lodge would be attending. That established, the northern Orange Order would be invited as “guests” and thus save face. And so it came to pass.

But there’s more. My source tells me that credit for getting the Orange Order to come to the Aras was assumed by Martin McAleese, not the member of the southern Orange Order who’d actually done the work. In fact it appears this person got little thanks for his pains: in all the years of Orange-Order-at-the-Aras, he never once met with Martin McAleese, in the final two years of the McAleese presidency he wasn’t even invited to the event which he’d made possible, and he wasn’t invited to Mary McAleese’s farewell thank-you event at the end of her presidency.

Now maybe this version of events I’ve been given is untrue – but it has the ring of truth. The man who made the event happen went on to divorce, as it were, the southern Orange Order from the northern, which he saw as excessively anti-Catholic; eventually he retired from the Order himself.

Two questions offer themselves: (i) Was the McAleese presidency capable of such self-serving manipulation of events? And (ii) Have the various overtures to the Orange Order, Jackie McDonald et al resulted in any lasting and/or beneficial change?  My own suspicion (it can only be that) is Yes and No, in that order. And no pun intended.

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20 Responses to The McAleese presidency and the Orange Order

  1. Steve. May 4, 2015 at 10:31 am #

    Interesting but at the momdnt it’s simply unverified hearsay. Any chance that former member will write something on it? Presume he was from thr Dublin lodge?

    • Jude Collins May 4, 2015 at 11:29 am #

      My lips are sealed, Steve ( and lips that touch liquor will never touch mine…) You are right about lack of verification and I’ve tried to stress that.

  2. Iolar May 4, 2015 at 11:33 am #

    The politics of exclusion

    Has there been any lasting or beneficial change in the north of Ireland? Zhou Enlai’s comment about the significance of the French Revolution, “it is too early to say” is perhaps the most appropriate response in the circumstances.

    Bonfire material is being collected and grant aid is available for the annual Orangefest. There is no point in being critical of children with ‘KAT’ on their foreheads when individuals who should know better use such offensive terms when using social media.

    The Ulster Drugs Association has given us fair warning about ‘a bad July’.

    Some politicians are seeking legislation designed to enhance the questionable rights of marchers while at the same time, they wish to limit numbers of protesters.

    While some politicians continue to support Tory austerity policies, taxpayers continue to foot the bill at camp Twaddell.

    The message for Ms McAleese is loud and clear, the current buns are out of date and be careful with cake.

  3. Francis May 4, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

    It would be very unfortunate if political expediency and manipulation guided the Mac Aleeses’ hands in the matter. When it came to the whole “Hug An Orangeman” tripe indulged in the south of the country, I always thought it very Generous Spirited of them. So many sagacious southern commentators and political pundits telling us northern nationalists how we should act/respond to sectarianism in the guise of this supremacist Dis-Order. How Magnanimous of them indeed! All the ensuing strife and discord fomented under the shadow of such open malignity perpetuated, and we are told to reconcile ourselves to it!
    They don’t have to effing live with this blight which festers divisively across so many of our communities, for so much of the year.
    The Mary and/or Martin may have been sucked into this facile partitionist fairytale, or even manipulated it to enhance their own Political credibility/clout, would be truly disappointing. Mary from Ardoyne, must know what the seiges of Ardoyne are like, and what the Ardoyne people have suffered as a result of Orange inspired extremism.
    As for this unwearied outreach among so many of our countrymen in the south,-come and live for a gentle summer in a beleaguered community north of the DMZ, then fill your pipes with all the nostalgic recall you could invent after,- if you can hold true to the lie?….Til then you can stick your generous outreaches, you do not have to live with this Afrikaner stomping.

  4. Perkin Warbeck May 4, 2015 at 2:04 pm #

    Gadzooks ! The McAleese Presidency capable of such self-serving manipulation of events?

    Well, I never.

    Certainly, Perkie’s inner Pinafore Presidential watcher never heard of such an outlandish, Marlon Brandish suggestion before, Esteemed Blogmeister.

    What, never?

    No, never.

    What, never?

    Well, hardly ever.

    Now that one thinks about it, Perkie;s inner man upper is not at all unhappy to fess up that he now, after all, does seem to recall this ingenuous radio interview recently with Notre Dame from Notre Dame (for it is she !). Yes, the same one, what was packaged, by all accounts, by the Condoleezza McAleezza Media Manipulation Services.

    To do with the upcoming Same Difference Referendum thingy in the F.S.S.,, the ship of which Stateen she acquitted herself with such distinction as its second (ever) Lady Captain.

    Now, why Notre Dame aka the Non-playing Lady Captain, chose Notre Dame in which to hector, oops, lecture on ‘Media Manipulation: the Trans-Atlantic Dimension’ is a moot point. Though two suggestions have raised their close-cropped heads.

    One hint is the motto of The Fighting Irish as the University’s Grid Iron Team is known. That would be, erm, a leprechaun: wow !

    Looking back on the track for a little green bag
    Got to find just the kind or I’m losing my mind.

    Now, even the Reservoir Dogs in the street know that this little green bag is the very identical one that Norte Dame carries her leprechaun vocabulary collection with her; hence, it is a particularly little bag / mailin beag bideach ar fad.

    The second hint refers to the location of both Notre Dames at this moment in t., going forward: South Bend, Indiana.

    South Bend is right. In fact it might even suggest that her little green bag could have been used to tote her favourite much-thumbed and multi-dogeared bed-side reading book . This suggestion though can be discounted as said volume is as big as Nelson’s Column on a clear day.

    That would be the book which contains on the fly leaf the following zipper of a summary: ‘This remarkable story of a woman who journeyed from a working class Catholic West Belfast to the highest office in the Republic of Ireland, and who, shedding most of her own tribal baggage, became the President for all the people of Ireland’.

    Hmmm. And Hrrrrrr.

    This tome, ‘First Citizen: Mary McAleese and the Irish Presidentcy’ (for it is it !) is the Official Hagiography, oops, Biography of Notre Dame and the exquisitly coiffeured prose in which it is wrought in the Q’s Engligh (wow !) does its subject not only full justice. Indeed, if the truth were told, it does it full Reid Professorship of Criminal Law, Criminology and (gulp) Penology at TCD itself.

    Its author, incidentally, and it is entirely co incidentally, ar ndoigh/ of course, was and still is the revered Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Unionist Times, no less. So,no corduroy trousered tome then, from that particular quarter, in hind sight..

    Patsy McGarry (for it is he !) was uniquely eligible to take on this disinterested and detached role, having graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from UCG. He is also a distinguished member of that Centre of Excellence for Inclusivity, the Unitarian Church on St. Stephen’s Green.

    Again, a role for which this Bacheror of Arts is also particularly eligible, being a born Catholic and a born-again Christian, an entirely admirable cohort among the FSS hackitariat, growing in numbers, going forward. When his colleague, John Waters, summarily departed the pages of the paper of rectum, oops, record, there were wild rumours of uisce faoi thalam/ / underground water / skullduggery circulating.

    Perkie ‘inner periscope has never seen any button-down proof to back these swirling alligators up.. Incidentally, the free-running Mr. Waters has declared himself a naysayer re the Referendum de dum to come.

    What, never ?

    No, never.

    What, never?

    Well, hardly ever.

    And then, gadzooks !

    (The etymology of which exclamation or/and ejaculation is: God’s hooks, being the nails which crucified the Lord)

    And then, there was that heroically symbolic demonstration at Christchurch, the Cathedral in New Ireland, not the town in New Zealand. When The First Citizen / Notre D. bowed her bare,though luxuriously hair-styled (still), head below the non-sectarian flag known as The Union Jill, in solemn supplication, to receive in communion with the separated though non-sectarian breds and hissy sissies.

    To recieve what was perceived to be a bitter pill for all sectarian RCs, of an outraged disposition. Who claimed Notre D was in fact in communion with the She-D, Elizabeth the Lizard (also the Second), sheself.

    And who shamelessly considered Mary 2’s inner contrarian of trying to outdo Mary 1’s inner contrarian when she went bald-headed where no shemale had dared to go before: the filthy rich Vatican (less Vat).

    This was not the recaction of the former Nationalists, now known as Rationalists in P.O.P.P.E. who danced a veritable Sir Roger de Coverly of Reconciliation in the leafy suburbs of Beef-Eater Baile Atha Cliath / Blackpool/ Dublin/ Dubh Linn.

    Thump ! Thump ! Thump !

    Schrodinger, again. Perkie’s pernickety pet pussycat, thumping the Axminsiter with his querulous tail, demanding clarification.

    P.P.O.P.P.E. (Peasantry Petrified of Purchased Press Egomaniacs) a societal phenom in the Free Southern Stateen first whipped into line by the latte, tormented Conor Crozier O’Brien. This occurred simultaneously with his heroically symbolic oranges and lemons crusade to rid RTE of the angst-inducing and Anglo-offensive Angelus.

    – If you do want to ding a dong, do ding a bell of St. Clemens.

    What, never?

    No, never.

    What, never?

    Well, hardly ever.

    Hardly ever swears a big, big Notre D.
    Then give three cheers, and one cheer more
    For the hardy Lady Captain of the Pinafore !

  5. neill May 4, 2015 at 3:30 pm #

    Francis who is beleaguered community in the north is this the same community that has increased over the last 50 years?

    • Ryan May 4, 2015 at 7:22 pm #

      Next you’ll be saying there was no systematic discrimination against Catholics in housing, jobs, et in the northern statelet Neill, and that’s not even touching on the sectarianism of the Unionist Government and its agents the RUC and B-Specials.

      If the Catholic community has increased over past 50 years it definitely wasn’t with the help of Unionism, I think we can all agree on that Neill lol Just so happens that Catholic families have more children on average than Protestant families and with the end of the Unionist statelet and of discrimination, inequality, et more and more Catholics were able to stay in the 6 counties because they were able to attain jobs and housing while in the past a lot emigrated. So that, in my opinion anyway, is why the Catholic population has grown here.

    • Francis May 4, 2015 at 8:22 pm #

      Are you suggesting Neill that the demographics belie the realities of an Orange State? 50 years of Stormont One Party Rule, and the only bill ever passed by a nationalist concerned Wildlife,-I’m sure the Brandy glasses were bubbling with mirth that night in big house Unionism.
      You subtle insinuation that the rise in the nationalist population displays that a harmonious equilibrium must have existed for such a proliferation…? Perhaps there were not enough Pogroms. Perhaps the papists who stayed, were from here and had nowhere else to go, nor any opportunity to go. Thousands were driven from Armagh late 18th century, perhaps Unionists of such steeled resolve, should have employed more modern methods to eradicate themselves from the indigenous problem perhaps. Discrimination and deprivations of all descript, and still they bred…..? Else apart from full blown ethnic cleansing Neill, how can one ever deny the original natives were anything but delighted with their lot, that is the ones at the bottom of the stolen garden, who would not go away? Time to share the place Neill, whoever fears an equality agenda really needs a rethink.

      • neill May 5, 2015 at 11:22 am #

        Francis and Ryan take a chill pill I wasn’t making a subtle point at all just stating if a community is beleaguered they tend not to have to many children as it wouldn’t be safe to have them.

        Yes of course there was discrimination who argues about that now?. Indeed the latest culprit was a SF minister discriminating against a Protestant you might have thought SF would have learned something from the past however they seem to be able to do exactly the same as unionists…

  6. Argenta May 4, 2015 at 5:48 pm #

    I’m not sure what the purpose of this blog is.I had always assumed that you were an admirer of the Mc Aleeses.Most of us are already aware of the many imperfections of the Orange Order..To accuse the Mc Aleese presidency of ” self serving manipulation of events” is a serious charge but I suppose like all other bodies, they might be capable of being economical with the truth.Even your own favourite party have on occasions been guilty of the very thing that you imply the Mc Aleeses could have been involved in.

    • Jude Collins May 4, 2015 at 5:56 pm #

      Dear oh dear, Argenta – should have gone to Specsavers? I accused the McAleese presidency of nothing of the kind. I have met Mrs McAleese on several occasions and I found her an admirable, intelligent, empathetic woman. But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to gloss over what may be the little-known truth of a situation. As I said in the blog, I don’t know if this is true or not. But it merits consideration.

    • sherdy May 4, 2015 at 9:09 pm #

      Argenta, ‘self serving manipulation of events’ and the Orange Order:
      Of course they are easily led. Look how many thousands of times per year are they led up hills, down dales, around and around towns and cities of NI.
      Did they get their ideas from the Pied Piper of Hammelin?

  7. ben madigan May 4, 2015 at 6:55 pm #

    I don’t know if this is true or not. But it merits consideration.
    Another piece to add to the jigsaw

    this report was hardly Dr Mc Aleese’s best moment

  8. Ryan May 4, 2015 at 7:43 pm #

    Did Mary McAleese do her best as President of Ireland to reach out to the Orange Order? I believe she did. Did it do any good? I think it did but not much, nothing substantial in the long term.

    Does the Orange Order have anything positive to offer to community relations here? I would say they do but certain extremists within the organisation stop that from happening.

    Look at the parading situation in Derry. The Orange Order there is in a City that is around 80% Catholic and yet both sides sat down and came to an agreement that was good for everyone. It could’ve been so easy for Catholics there to oppose all orange parades but they didn’t. Could you imagine the same thing happening with Republicans in say a Unionist dominated city like Lisburn? Where Unionists and republicans sat down and came to an agreement on republican parades both sides were happy with? I doubt it very much. This exposes the lack of effort on Unionisms part to reach out, understand and engage with the other community. They have done nothing of the sort.

    The Orange Order, North and South, has to remove the Anti-Catholic image that they have. If they don’t do this there will never be genuine peace and understanding here between Catholics and the Orange institution. It would be like trying to get Black people to tolerate and understand the KKK, its just not going to happen.

  9. IrelandSaoirse May 4, 2015 at 9:13 pm #

    I’m a bit disappointed with this story,you can’t say if it’s true or not,so it’s nothing but gossip really, I’m no particular fan on Mary Mc Aleese but I thought she did well as president.
    As for the Orange order I think they are sectarian and the 12th is a sickening reminder of how frigd up this island is.
    Hard to live in peace with your neighbours when they behave like louts and piss in peoples gardens.

    • Jude Collins May 4, 2015 at 9:37 pm #

      My source was pretty convincing – but offered no supporting evidence…

  10. pointis May 4, 2015 at 11:53 pm #

    No evidence – no case to answer!

  11. giordanobruno May 5, 2015 at 9:57 am #

    Someone who arranged for the OO to get together with the Irish President claims they didn’t get credit for doing so? Is that it?
    Hardly Watergate.

    • Jude Collins May 5, 2015 at 10:09 am #

      True, gio. Except for the person who felt their work was overlooked/airbrushed out. IF the story is true.

  12. RJC May 5, 2015 at 12:24 pm #

    A politician involved in the self-serving manipulation of events? Well, I never!

    An interesting read, Dr Collins. Veritas vos liberabit, and all that…