Wednesday, 4th July 2012
Seanad Leader, Senator Maurice Cummins, on the visit of the Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland to Seanad Éireann
Seanad Leader, Senator Maurice Cummins as part of his lengthy address ofwelcome to the Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland's visit to Seanad Eireann on Tuesday said:
"For far too long my tradition saw the Orange Order through the distorting prism of a poorly understood past. In 1963 President Kennedy, addressing a Joint Session of the Oireachtas quoted from a poem by John Boyle O'Reilly which said:
"The world is large when its weary leagues two loving hearts divide”.
It is true, Grand Secretary, that neither of our two traditions tried to walk the "weary leagues” that separated Dublin from Belfast. In the case of my own tradition, we were too long fixated by what we saw as the exclusionary elements in the ethos of the Orange Order.
Accordingly we focused only on the anti-Jacobite part of the oath in the Order's constitution which read: 'I do declare that I am not, nor ever was, a Roman-Catholic or Papist; that I was not, am not, or ever will be, a member of the society called "United Irishmen.”
But that fixation meant we missed other core messages in the constitution of the Orange Order.
Messages which dwelt on the dignity of religious freedom.
Messages which expressed the Northern Protestant fear of isolation during the era of the great Catholic empires of Europe. Fears that were often well - founded as Papal power used the Inquisition to stifle independent inquiry and religious freedom.
We also, I regret to admit, Grand Secretary, paid too little heed to the Orange Institute of Ireland's statement of principle which is "to aid and assist loyal subjects of every religious persuasion, by protecting them from violence and oppression.”
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