Today I am posing the question, should Southern Irish Lodges create a separate Grand Lodge? Having a Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland incorporating two distinct political and religious jurisdictions since partition has not worked.
The Grand Orange lodge of Ireland in its present form does not take and has never taken any serious cognizance of the views of Southern Orangemen. This can be seen in the public face of the Institution predominated by brethren from Belfast.
Even though the institution has broken its links to political parties the institution is still engaged in an ongoing tug of war between DUP and UUP factions which have little or no relevance or interest to Orange brethren in the south.
As a proud Southern Orangeman it is my view the answer to the question posed is yes as this would be a positive step in rebuilding the Orange presence in the South.
For the institution to survive and become more relevant it needs to change.
For example the qualifications, the current qualification are the third version used in the institution since it was founded. On reading the original qualification it is my view they would be more in turn with a modern Orange institution.
On discipline the institution is often perceived as taking a weak stance on members who discredit the institution and bring it into disrepute. .
At one time in the institution a member who attracted a criminal record would do the honourable thing and resign sadly this is no longer the case and the institution has failed to step up and remove such brethren.
As a member of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland I cannot understand why the Grand Lodge of Ireland is bound only by the Laws of Northern Ireland.
When this amendment was proposed the Dublin lodge wrote to propose that the proposed rule should include something to the effect that the institution in the south would be bound by the laws of the ROI. As to form this was ignored.
As a Southern Orangeman the rule governing the attendance at a Roman Catholic Mass is ambiguous. Most Orangemen and Women I know have attended many Roman Catholic churches for friend’s christenings, marriages and funerals over the years and we will continue to do so without question.
A High court ruling, in Northern Ireland, a number of years back directed that attendance was not participation. If as the rule book now states that the Institution is bound by the laws of Northern Ireland why does the current rule on attending a mass not reflect this high court ruling..
I am sure I can find more examples where the institution on this Island is out of touch. Any divorce between the Southern lodges and the Northern Lodges must be amicable.
It would of course require the establishment of joint committees to govern areas of common interest. Would the Southern Irish Lodges be better served by a Southern Grand orange Lodge? What do you think?