As the political situation on the Island stabilised and the parliament in Northern Ireland has been reestablished as part of the Belfast agreement it was understood that all religious and cultural traditions on the island would be afforded equal status. A lot of work has been afforded by both parliaments on the Island to promote greater understanding and cooperation between North and South and the different internal Northern traditions and identities. But alas little recognition has been given to the different cultural identities in the South, especially one of its oldest the Anglo Irish or British Irish identity, with the exception of the Ulster Scot. Successive Governments since independence have gone to great lengths to promote a mono cultural identity in the state. In many cases they have used the educational system and the media to promote an identity for the state that is Republican, Roman Catholic and everything else is less Irish. The view that the Anglo Irish and British Irish identity does not exist in the South is born out by the comments of one politician when he stated some years back, “The Irish state is a seamless society”. I as a member of that tradition strongly disagree that this is a seamless society. It is plain for all to see that this state is multicultural. Not only does it have its long established Anglo Irish/ British Irish cultural identity it also has new cultures and identities from other mainland European countries.
Now that the social and political problems of the past have been somewhat addressed and for the first time in the life of many their is little or no political motivated violence, their is a growing confidence that people like me who identify with the Anglo-Irish or British Irish can slowly come forward. The recent moves by the Irish Government to promote a greater understanding of all Irish men and women who gave their lives in the two world wars is welcomed. As a member of the Dublin and Wicklow Lodge I also welcome the opening of the new Boyne heritage centre. I hope the many that visit this centre will gain a wider understanding of Orangeism and why this famous battle took place. The recent granting of financial aid to Orange Lodges in the boarder areas is also a sign that the state here is starting to move forward. The next step that is long over due and would be to invite Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to the Republic of Ireland and for the Republic to rejoin the commonwealth. I will do an article on this in a future newsletter. This would final show that this state has finally matured. As things on the political and social side are moving forward I also think it is time for the Orange institution to move forward. From a Southern perspective I would agree that a lot of work needs to be done in order to counter the large amount of negativity that was attached to the institution over the years but with time I believe this can be achieved. I welcome the recent moves by Grand Lodge of Ireland to promote the Orange tradition especially the Ulster Scots but I think the Anglo Irish needs to be promoted as well. It is to this tradition that many Orange brethren and potential brethren in Southern Ireland are drawn from.
As a member of the Dublin Lodge I would like to see the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland return to basics. The fundamental foundation stone on which the Institution was built is to defend, promote and protect Irish Protestants and it is to this foundation we should return. I would like to see the Grand Lodge of Ireland should produce a program that would fully inform and educate the people of Ireland (the whole Island) as to what Orangeism is and what the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland and its Lodges stands for today. This program should reflect a modern institution relevant to a modern society. An institution that will act as a voice for the Protestant people of Ireland in matters relating to the Protestant ethos in Health and Education. As a southern Protestant and proud member of the Dublin and Wicklow Lodge I know of many (of the Anglo-Irish and British Irish) who fully support the principles of Orangeism and a role to protect, support and defend Protestants. It is my sincere belief that if the Institution grasped this opportunity their is no reason why lodges, in time, cannot be reopened throughout Ireland.