The Orange Institution (more commonly known as the Orange Order, the Orange Lodge or the Orangemen) is a Protestant fraternal organisation based at Schomberg House, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Founded in 1796 near the village of Loughgall in County Armagh, its name is a tribute to the Dutch-born Protestant King William of Orange, who defeated the army of the Catholic king James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. Although based in Northern Ireland, the Institution also has a significant presence in lowland Scotland and lodges throughout the Commonwealth and United States.
Politically, the Orange Order is strongly linked to unionism. The Order sees itself as defending Protestant civil and religious liberties, whilst critics have accused the Order of being sectarian, triumphalist and supremacist. As a Protestant society, non-Protestants cannot become members unless they agree to adhere to the principles of Orangeism and convert.
The Orange Institution commemorates the civil and religious liberties conferred by William of Orange, the Dutch prince who became King of England, Scotland, and Ireland in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. In particular, the Institution remembers the victories of William III and his forces in Ireland in the early 1690s, especially the Battle of the Boyne. The 1689 Bill of Rights granted civil and religious liberties on Protestant subjects, and the Glorious Revolution strengthened Parliament in relation to the Monarchy.
Formation and early years
Throughout the 1780s sectarian tension had been building until boiling point in County Armagh. Here the number of Protestants and Catholics in what was then Ireland’s most populous county were of roughly equal number and competition between them to rent patches of land near markets was fierce. Dr. William Richardson stated in a detailed analysis of the situation in 1797:
“much offence had lately been taken because the Catholics in the general increase in wealth had raised the price of land by bidding high when it became vacant. This was the real cause of our ill-humour: [not] the relaxation of the popery laws but the pretence.”
By 1786, drunken brawls in the Markethill area of County Armagh between groups known as the Bawn Fleet, Bunkerhill Defenders, and the Nappach Fleet had become openly sectarian, despite originating in a quarrel between two Presbyterians. They then reorganised as the Protestant Peep o’ Day Boys and the Catholic Defenders. The next decade in County Armagh was marked by a raging sectarian conflict between both groups.
Lord Gosford observed of the Peep o’ Day Boys that they were a “low set of fellows who with guns and bayonets, and other weapons break open the houses of the Roman Catholicks, and as I am informed treat many of them with cruelty”. Some Protestant gentry gave weapons to Catholics so that they could defend themselves. Soon, however, guns were also being given out to the “Protestant Boys” to defend them from attacks by Catholics.
The sectarian violence soon spread to south Armagh where Catholics were a majority and turned on the Protestants “with a ferocity not seen for more than a century”. The point of no return occurred on 28 January 1791, when Catholics cut off the tongue and fingers of Mr Barkeley, a popular schoolmaster from Forkhill, and his wife. As “the same hereditary enmities handed down from generation to generation” raged to the fore, violence spread to neighbouring counties.
In July 1795 a Reverend Devine had held a sermon at Drumcree Church to commemorate the “Battle of the Boyne”. In his History of Ireland Vol I (published in 1809), the historian Francis Plowden described the events that followed this sermon:
“Reverend Devine so worked up the minds of his audience, that upon retiring from service, on the different roads leading to their respective homes, they gave full scope to the anti-papistical zeal, with which he had inspired them… falling upon every Catholic they met, beating and bruising them without provocation or distinction, breaking the doors and windows of their houses, and actually murdering two unoffending Catholics in a bog. This unprovoked atrocity of the Protestants revived and redoubled religious rancour. The flame spread and threatened a contest of extermination…”
Battle of the Diamond
In September 1795 at a crossroads known as “The Diamond”, near Loughgall, Defenders and Peep o’ Day Boys gathered to fight each other. This initial stand-off ended without battle when the priest that accompanied the Defenders persuaded them to seek a truce after a group called the “Bleary Boys” came from County Down to reinforce the Peep o’ Day Boys. When a contingent of Defenders from County Tyrone arrived on 21 September, however, they were “determined to fight”. The Peep o’ Day Boys quickly regrouped and opened fire on the Defenders. According to William Blacker the battle was short and the Defenders suffered “not less than thirty” deaths.
After the battle had ended, the Peep o’ Days marched into Loughgall, and in the house of James Sloan they founded the Orange Order, which was to be a Protestant defence association made up of lodges. The principle pledge of these lodges was to defend “the King and his heirs so long as he or they support the Protestant Ascendancy”. At the start the Orange Order was a “parallel organisation” to the Defenders in that it was a secret oath-bound society that used passwords and signs.
One of the very few landed gentry that joined the Orange Order at the outset, William Blacker, was ill-pleased at some of the outcomes of the Battle of the Diamond. He says that a determination was expressed to “driving from this quarter of the county the entire of its Roman Catholic population”, with notices posted warning them “to Hell or Connaught”. Other people were warned by notices not to inform on local Orangemen or “I will blow your soul to the low hills of Hell and burn the house you are in”.Within two months, 7000 Catholics had been driven out of County Armagh. According to Lord Gosford, the governor or Armagh:
It is no secret that a persecution is now raging in this country… the only crime is… profession of the Roman Catholic faith. Lawless banditti have constituted themselves judges… and the sentence they have denounced… is nothing less than a confiscation of all property, and an immediate banishment.
Two former Grand Masters of the Order, William Blacker and Robert Hugh Wallace, have questioned this statement, saying whoever the Governor believed were the “lawless banditti” they could not have been Orangemen as there were no lodges in existence at the time of his speech. According to historian Jim Smyth:
Later apologists rather implausibly deny any connection between the Peep-o’-Day Boys and the first Orangemen or, even less plausibly, between the Orangemen and the mass wrecking of Catholic cottages in Armagh in the months following ‘the Diamond’ — all of them, however, acknowledge the movement’s lower class origins.
The Order’s three main founders were James Wilson (founder of the Orange Boys), Daniel Winter and James Sloan. The first Orange lodge was established in nearby Dyan, County Tyrone, and its first grand master was James Sloan of Loughgall. Its first ever marches were to celebrate the “Battle of the Boyne” and they took place on 12 July 1796 in Portadown, Lurgan and Waringstown.
The United Irishmen rebellion
The Society of United Irishmen was formed by liberal Presbyterians and Anglicans in Belfast in 1791. It sought reform of the Irish Parliament, Catholic Emancipation and the repeal of the Penal Laws. By the time the Orange Order was formed, the United Irishmen had become a revolutionary group advocating an independent Irish republic that would “Unite Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter”. United Irishmen activity was on the rise, and the government hoped to thwart it by backing the Orange Order from 1796 onward. Nationalist historians Thomas A. Jackson and John Mitchel argued that the government’s goal was to hinder the United Irishmen by fomenting sectarianism — it would create disunity and disorder under pretence of “passion for the Protestant religion”. Mitchel wrote that the government invented and spread “fearful rumours of intended massacres of all the Protestant people by the Catholics”. Historian Richard R Madden wrote that “efforts were made to infuse into the mind of the Protestant feelings of distrust to his Catholic fellow-countrymen”. Thomas Knox, British military commander in Ulster, wrote in August 1796 that “As for the Orangemen, we have rather a difficult card to play…we must to a certain degree uphold them, for with all their licentiousness, on them we must rely for the preservation of our lives and properties should critical times occur”.
As the United Irishmen seemed more ready to talk of insurrection than participate in it, they saw the Defenders as potential allies, and between 1794 and 1796 they formed a coalition. The United Irishmen, despite seeing the Defenders as “ignorant and poverty-stricken houghers and rick-burners” would claim in 1798 that they were indebted to the Armagh disturbances as the Orangemen had scattered highly political Catholics throughout the country and encouraged Defender recruitment, creating an army for the United Irishmen to utilise.
The United Irishmen launched a rebellion in 1798. In Ulster, most of the United Irish commanders and many of the rebels were Protestant. Orangemen were recruited into the yeomanry to help fight the rebellion and “proved an invaluable addition to government forces”. No attempt was made to disarm Orangemen, for if an attempt had been made then it was claimed that “the whole of Ulster would be as bad as Antrim and Down” where the United Irishmen rebellion was at its strongest. However, sectarian massacres by the Defenders in County Wexford “did much to dampen” the rebellion in Ulster. At Scullabogue, over 100 non-combatant mostly Protestant men, women, and children were imprisoned in a barn which was then set alight, with the Catholic rebels ensuring none escaped, not even a child who it is claimed managed to break out only for a rebel to kill them with his pike. In the trials that followed the massacres, evidence was recorded of anti-Orange sentiments being expressed by the rebels at Scullabogue. Partly as a result of these atrocities the Orange Order quickly grew and large numbers of gentry with military experience came into the movement.
The homeland and birthplace of the Defenders was mid-Ulster and here they failed to participate in the rebellion, having been cowed into submission and surrounded by their Protestant neighbours who had been armed by the government. The sectarian attacks on them were so severe that Grand Masters of the Orange Order convened to find ways of reducing them. According to Ruth Dudley Edwards and two former Grand Masters, Orangemen were among the first to contribute to repair funds for Catholic property damaged in the rebellion.
One major outcome of the United Irishmen rebellion was the 1800 Act of Union that merged the Irish Parliament with that of Westminster creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Many Catholics supported the Act, but the Orange Order saw it as a threat to the Protestant Ascendancy and 36 lodges in counties Armagh and Monaghan alone passed declarations which opposed the Union.
In the early nineteenth century, Orangemen were heavily involved in violent conflict with an Irish Catholic and nationalist secret society called the Ribbonmen. One instance, published in a 7 October 1816 edition of the Boston Commercial Gazette, included the murder of a Catholic priest and several members of the congregation of Dumreilly parish in County Cavan on 25 May 1816. According to the article, “A number of Orangemen with arms rushed into the church and fired upon the congregation”. On 19 July 1823 the Unlawful Oaths Bill was passed, banning all oath-bound societies in Ireland. This included the Orange Order, which had to be dissolved and reconstituted. In 1825 a bill banning unlawful associations – largely directed at Daniel O’Connell and his Catholic Association, compelled the Orangemen once more to dissolve their association. When Westminster finally granted Catholic Emancipation in 1829, Roman Catholics were free to take seats as MPs (and take up various other positions of influence and power from which they had been excluded) and play a part in framing the laws of the land. The likelihood of Irish Catholic members holding the balance of power in the Westminster Parliament further increased the alarm of Orangemen in Ireland, as O’Connell’s ‘Repeal’ movement aimed to bring about the restoration of a separate Irish Parliament in Dublin, which would have a Catholic majority, thereby ending to the Protestant Ascendancy. From this moment on, the Orange Order re-emerged in a new and even more militant form.
In 1845 the ban was lifted, but the notorious Battle of Dolly’s Brae between Orangemen and Ribbonmen in 1849 led to a ban on Orange marches which remained in place for several decades. This was eventually lifted after a campaign of disobedience led by William Johnston of Ballykilbeg.
By the late 19th century, the Order was in decline. However, its fortunes were revived by the spread of Protestant opposition to Irish nationalist mobilisation in the Irish Land League and then around the question of Home Rule. The Order was heavily involved in opposition to Gladstone’s first Irish Home Rule Bill 1886, and was instrumental in the formation of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). The strength of Protestant opposition to Irish self-government under possible Roman Catholic influence, especially in the Protestant-dominated province of Ulster, eventually led to six Ulster counties remaining within the United Kingdom, as Northern Ireland.
In the first decade of the twentieth century, the Order suffered a split when Thomas Sloane left the organisation to set up the Independent Orange Order. Sloane had been suspended after running against a Unionist candidate on a pro-labour platform in an election in 1902.
Role in the partition of Ireland
In 1912 the Third Home Rule Bill was introduced in the British House of Commons. However, its introduction would be delayed until 1914. The Orange Order, along with the British Conservative Party and unionists in general, were inflexible in opposing the Bill. The Order helped to organise the 1912 Ulster Covenant – a pledge to oppose Home Rule which was signed by up to 500,000 people. In 1911 some Orangemen began to arm themselves and train as a militia called the Ulster Volunteers. In 1913 the Ulster Unionist Council decided to bring these groups under central control, creating the Ulster Volunteer Force, a militia dedicated to resisting Home Rule. There was a strong overlap between Orange Lodges and UVF units. A large shipment of rifles was imported from Germany to arm them in April 1914, in what became known as the Larne gun-running.
However, the crisis was interrupted by the outbreak of the World War I in August 1914. This caused the Home Rule Bill to be suspended for the duration of the war. Many Orangemen served in the war with the 36th (Ulster) Division suffering heavy losses, and commemorations of their sacrifice are still an important element of Orange ceremonies.
The Fourth Home Rule Act was passed as the Government of Ireland Act 1920; the six north eastern counties of Ulster became Northern Ireland and the other twenty-six counties became Southern Ireland. This self-governing entity within the United Kingdom was confirmed in its status under the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, and in its borders by the Boundary Commission agreement of 1925. Southern Ireland became first the Irish Free State in 1922 and then in 1949 a republic under the name of “Ireland”.
The Orange Order had a central place in the new state of Northern Ireland. From 1921 to 1969, every Prime Minister of Northern Ireland was an Orangeman and member of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP); all but three Cabinet Ministers were Orangemen; all but one unionist Senators were Orangemen; and 87 of the 95 MPs who did not become Cabinet Ministers were Orangemen. James Craig, the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, maintained always that Ulster was in effect Protestant and the symbol of its ruling forces was the Orange Order. In 1932, Prime Minister Craig maintained that “ours is a Protestant government and I am an Orangeman”. This was in response to a speech the year before by Eamonn de Valera in the Irish Free State claiming that Ireland was a `Catholic country for a Catholic people` in a debate about protests against a Protestant woman being appointed as Librarian in County Mayo. Two years later he stated: “I have always said that I am an Orangeman first and a politician and a member of this parliament afterwards…All I boast is that we have a Protestant Parliament and a Protestant State”.
At its peak in 1965, the Order’s membership was around 70,000, which meant that roughly 1 in 5 adult Protestant males were members. Since 1965, it has lost a third of its membership, notably in Belfast and Derry. The Order’s political influence suffered greatly when the Unionist-dominated Northern Ireland Parliament was prorogued in 1972. In 2012 it was stated that estimated membership of the Orange Order was around 34,000.
After the outbreak of “The Troubles” in 1969, the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland encouraged Orangemen to join the Northern Ireland security forces—namely the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and the British Army’s Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR). The response from Orangemen was strong. Over 300 Orangemen were killed during the conflict, the vast majority of them members of the security forces. Some Orangemen also joined loyalist paramilitaries. During the conflict, the Order had a fractious relationship with loyalist paramilitaries, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the Independent Orange Order and the Free Presbyterian Church. The Order urged its members not to join these organisations, and it is only recently that some of these intra-Unionist breaches have been healed.
The Drumcree dispute is perhaps the most well-known episode involving the Order since 1921. On the Sunday before 12 July each year, the Order holds its “Drumcree parade” in Portadown, when it marches to-and-from Drumcree Church. It has marched this route since 1807, when the area was sparsely populated. However, today most of this route falls within the town’s mainly-Catholic and nationalist quarter, which is densely populated. The residents have sought to re-route the parade away from this area, seeing it as “triumphalist” and “supremacist”.
There have been intermittent violent clashes during the yearly parade since at least 1873. The dispute was intensified by “The Troubles”. Before the 1990s, the most contentious part of the parade was the outward leg along Obins Street. When the parade was banned from Obins Street in 1986, the focus shifted to the parade’s return leg along Garvaghy Road.
In 1995, the dispute drew worldwide media attention as it led to widespread protests and rioting throughout Northern Ireland. This wave of violence began when Catholic and nationalist protestors prevented the march from continuing along Garvaghy Road. This pattern was repeated every July for the next five years. During that time the dispute led to the deaths of at least five civilians and prompted massive police and army operations. Since 1998 the parade has been banned from most of the nationalist area, and the violence has subsided. However, regular moves to get the two sides into face-to-face talks have failed.
Beliefs and activities
The basis of the modern Orange Order is the promotion and propagation of “biblical Protestantism” and the principles of the Reformation. As such the Order only accepts those who confess a belief in a Protestant religion. As well as Catholics, Non-Credal and non Trinitarian Christians are also banned. This includes members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Unitarians and some branches of Quakers, although these denominations do not have large congregations where most Orange lodges are found. There is not a ban on close members of families belonging to these groups.
Previous rules specifically forbade Roman Catholics and their close relatives from joining but modern rules now use the wording “non reformed faith”.
Converts to Protestantism can join by appealing to Grand Lodge.
Some evangelical groups have claimed that the Orange Order is still influenced by freemasonry. Many Masonic traditions survive, such as the organisation of the Order into lodges. The Order has a system of degrees through which new members advance. These degrees are interactive plays with references to the Bible. There is particular concern over the ritualism of higher degrees such as the Royal Arch Purple and the Royal Black Institutions.
The Order considers the Fourth Commandment to forbid Christians to work, or engage in non-religious activity generally, on Sundays, to be important. When the Twelfth of July falls on a Sunday the parades traditionally held on that date are held on the Monday instead. In March 2002 the Order threatened “to take every action necessary, regardless of the consequences” to prevent the Ballymena Show being held on a Sunday. The County Antrim Agricultural Association complied with the Order’s wishes.
The Orange Order is strongly linked to British unionism. This is a political ideology that supports the continued unity of the United Kingdom. Unionism is thus opposed to, for example, the unification of Ireland and Scottish independence.
The Order, from its very inception, was an overtly political organisation. In 1905, when the Ulster Unionist Council (UUC) was formed, the Orange Order was entitled to send delegates to its meetings. The UUC was the decision-making body of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). Between 1922 and 1972, the UUP was consistently the largest party in the Northern Ireland Parliament. Due to its close links with the UUP, the Orange Order was able to exert great influence. The Order was the force behind the UUP no-confidence votes in reformist Prime Ministers O’Neill (1969), Chichester-Clark (1969–71) and Faulkner (1972–74). At the outbreak of The Troubles in 1969, the Order encouraged its members to join the Northern Ireland security forces, which were opposed by all Irish nationalist and republican parties. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) attracted the most seats in an election for the first time in 2003. DUP leader Ian Paisley, who was not a member of the Orange Order, maintained a bitter campaign of conflict with the Order since 1951, when the Order banned members of Paisley’s Free Presbyterian Church from acting as Orange chaplains and openly endorsed the UUP against the DUP. Recently, however, Orangemen have begun voting for the DUP in large numbers due to their opposition to the Good Friday Agreement.Relations between the DUP and Order have healed greatly since 2001, and there are now a number of high profile Orangemen who are DUP MPs and strategists.
In December 2009, the Orange Order held secret talks with Northern Ireland’s two main unionist parties – the DUP and UUP. The main goal of these talks was to foster greater unity between the two parties, in the run-up to the May 2010 general election. Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey said that the talks exposed the Order as a “very political organisation”. Shortly after the election, Grand Master Robert Saulters called for a “single unionist party” to maintain the union. He said that the Order has members “who represent all the many shades of unionism” and warned, “we will continue to dilute the union if we fight and bicker among ourselves”.
In the October 2010 issue of The Orange Standard, Grand Master Robert Saulters referred to ‘dissident’ Irish republican paramilitaries as the “Roman Catholic IRA”. SDLP MLA John Dallat asked Justice Minister David Ford to find if Saulters had broken the hate speech laws. He said: “Linking the Catholic community or indeed any community to terror groups is inciting weak-minded people to hatred, and surely history tells us what that has led to in the past”.
In a 2011 survey of 1,500 Orangemen throughout Northern Ireland, over 60% believed that “most Catholics are IRA sympathizers”.
Parades are a big part of the Order’s activities. Most Orange lodges hold a yearly parade from their Orange hall to a local church. The denomination of the church is quite often rotated, depending on local demographics.
The highlights of the Orange year are the parades leading up to the celebrations on the Twelfth of July. The Twelfth, however, remains in places a deeply divisive issue, not least because of the alleged triumphalism, anti-Catholicism and anti-Irish nationalism of the Orange Order. In recent years, most Orange parades have passed peacefully. All but a handful of the Orange Order parades, at so called “interface areas” where the two communities live next to each other, are peaceful.
The Grand Lodge of Ireland does not recognise the Parades Commission, which it sees as having been founded to target Protestant parades, as Protestants parade at ten times the rate of Catholics. Grand Lodge is, however, divided on the issue of working with the Parades Commission. 40% of Grand Lodge delegates oppose official policy while 60% are in favour. Most of those opposed to Grand Lodge policy are from areas facing parade restrictions like Portadown District, Bellaghy, Derry City and Lower Ormeau.
In a 2011 survey of Orangemen throughout Northern Ireland, 58% said they should be allowed to march through Irish nationalist and Catholic areas with no restrictions; 20% said they should negotiate with residents first.
Monthly meetings are held in Orange halls. Orange halls on both sides of the Irish border often function as community halls for Protestants and sometimes those of other faiths, though this was more common in the past. The halls often host community groups such as credit unions, local marching bands, Ulster-Scots and other cultural groups as well as religious missions and Unionist political parties.
Of the approximately 700 Orange halls in Ireland, 282 have been targeted by arsonists since the beginning of the Troubles in 1968. Paul Butler, a prominent member of Sinn Féin, has said the arson is a “campaign against properties belonging to the Orange Order and other loyal institutions” by nationalists. On one occasion a member of Sinn Féin’s youth wing was hospitalised after falling off the roof of an Orange hall. In a number of cases halls have been badly damaged or completely destroyed by arson, while others have been damaged by paint bombings, graffiti and other vandalism. The Order claims that there is considerable evidence of an organized campaign of sectarian vandalism by Irish republicans. Grand Secretary Drew Nelson claims that a statistical analysis shows that this campaign began in the last years of the 1980s and continues to the present.
One of the Orange Order’s activities is teaching members and the general public about William of Orange and associated subjects. Both the Grand Lodge and various individual lodges have published numerous booklets about William and the Battle of the Boyne, often aiming to show that they have continued relevance, and sometimes comparing the actions of William’s adversary James II with those of the Northern Ireland Office. Furthermore, historical articles are often published in the Order’s newspaper the Orange Standard and the Twelfth souvenir booklet. While William is the most frequent subject, other topics have included the Battle of the Somme (particularly the 36th (Ulster) Division’s role in it), Saint Patrick (who the Order argues was not Roman Catholic), and the Protestant Reformation.
There are at least two Orange Lodges in Northern Ireland which they claim represent the heritage and religious ethos of Saint Patrick. The best known is the Cross of Saint Patrick LOL (Loyal Orange lodge) 688, instituted in 1968 for the purpose of (re)claiming Saint Patrick. The lodge has had several well known members, including Rev Robert Bradford MP who was the lodge chaplain who himself was killed by the Provisional IRA, the late Ernest Baird. Today Nelson McCausland MLA and Gordon Lucy, Director of the Ulster Society are the more prominent members within the lodge membership. In the 1970s there was also a Belfast lodge called Oidhreacht Éireann (Ireland’s Heritage) LOL 1303, which argued that the Irish language and Gaelic culture were not the exclusive property of Catholics or republicans.
William was supported by the Pope in his campaigns against James’ backer Louis XIV of France, and this fact is sometimes left out of Orange histories.
Occasionally the Order and the more fundamentalist Independent Order publishes historical arguments based more on religion than on history. British Israelism, which claims that the British people are descended from the Israelites and that Queen Elizabeth II is a direct descendant of the Biblical King David, has from time to time been advanced in Orange publications.
The Order has been prominent in commemorating Ulster’s war dead, particularly Orangemen and particularly those who died in the Battle of the Somme (1916) during World War I. There are many parades on and around 1 July in commemoration of the Somme, although the war memorial aspect is more obvious in some parades than others. There are several memorial lodges, and a number of banners which depict the Battle of the Somme, war memorials, or other commemorative images. In the grounds of the Ulster Tower Thiepval, which commemorates the men of the Ulster Division who died in the Battle of the Somme, a smaller monument pays homage to the Orangemen who died in the war.
Relationship with loyalist paramilitaries
Many Irish nationalists and Catholics have opposed Orange marches due to their perceived links with hardline Ulster loyalism. Some bands hired to appear at Orange marches openly display support for loyalist paramilitary groups, either by carrying paramilitary flags or having paramilitary names and emblems on their banners.
The banner of Old Boyne Island Heroes Orange lodge bears the names of John Bingham and Shankill Butcher Robert Bates, who were both members. Another Shankill Butcher, Eddie McIlwaine, was pictured taking part in an Orange march in 2003 with a bannerette of dead UVF volunteer Brian Robinson (who himself was an Orangeman). While in the Maze Prison, Robert Bates was said to have “found God”, and as a result became a born-again Christian. Bates’s funeral was attended by a large number of Orange lodge representatives.
Other prominent loyalist militants who were also members of the Orange Order included Gusty Spence, Robert Bates, Davy Payne,David Ervine, John Bingham, George Seawright, Richard Jameson, Billy McCaughey, Ernie Elliott, and Robert McConnell.
On 12 July 1972, at least fifty members of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) escorted an Orange march into the Catholic area of Portadown. The UDA members were dressed in paramilitary uniforms and saluted the Orangemen as they passed. That year, Orangemen formed a paramilitary group called the Orange Volunteers. This group “bombed a pub in Belfast in 1973 but otherwise did little illegal other than collect the considerable bodies of arms found in Belfast Orange Halls”.
When a July 1992 Orange Order march passed the scene of the Sean Graham bookmakers’ shooting carried out by the UDA, Orangemen shouted pro-UDA slogans and held aloft five fingers as a taunt to residents over the five deaths. The claim is corroborated by Henry McDonald and Jim Cusack. They said that the images of Orangemen and loyalist flute band members holding up five fingers as they passed the shop were beamed around the world and were a public relations disaster for the Order. Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said that the actions of the marchers “would have disgraced a tribe of cannibals”. McDonald and Cusack also contend that the incident led to a more concerted effort by Lower Ormeau residents to have the marches banned from the area, which later happened. In 2007, a brother of one the victims demanded an apology from the Orange Order after a banner commemorating UFF member Joe Bratty appeared at a Twelfth parade. Bratty was said to have orchestrated the attack at Sean Graham’s bookermakers.
In the early years of The Troubles, the Order’s Grand Secretary in Scotland trawled Orange lodges for volunteers to “go to Ulster to fight”. Thousands are alleged to have “answered the call”, although the UVF said it “did not yet need them”. In 1976, senior Orangemen in Scotland tried to expel leading UDA member Roddy MacDonald after he said on television that he “would be happy to buy arms and ship them to Ulster”. However, his expulsion was blocked by 300 delegates at a special disciplinary hearing.
Portadown Orangemen allowed known militants such as George Seawright to take part in a 6 July 1986 march, contrary to a prior agreement. Seawright was a unionist politician and UVF member who had publicly proposed burning Catholics in ovens. As the march entered the town’s Catholic district, the RUC seized Seawright and other known militants. The Orangemen attacked the officers with stones and other missiles.
During November 1999, in a raid on Stoneyford Orange Hall, which the Irish Times has reported as a focal point for the Orange Volunteers, police found military documents with the personal details of over 300 Irish republicans. This led to two Orangemen being convicted for possession of “documents likely to be of use to terrorists”, possession of an automatic rifle, and membership in the outlawed Orange Volunteers. Their Orange lodge refused to expel them.
In 2004, police found a weapons stash at the home of an Orangeman in Liverpool. He and two other Orangemen were later jailed for possession of weapons and UVF membership. In 2006, a local Labour Party Member of Parliament, Louise Ellman, called for the members to be expelled from the Order.
An Orangeman and DUP election candidate with links to the Real UFF in Antrim was jailed in 2013 for his part in a sectarian attack on a Polish family.His membership of the Orange Order was terminated.
The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland has issued several statements condemning violence and paramilitarism. Answering accusations of paramilitary links by Sinn Féin in 2011, an Orange spokesman said: “The Orange Order has consistently condemned all terrorist violence”. In 2008, Armagh Orangemen condemned the flying of paramilitary flags. Denis Watson, the then secretary of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, has publicly called for anyone convicted of terrorist offences to be thrown out. Addressing a 12 July demonstration in 2000, Orangeman and Democratic Unionist politician Jeffrey Donaldson said “It is essential that the Orange Order does not allow the paramilitaries to infiltrate its parades or hijack legitimate protests as a means of flaunting their aggression and engaging in displays of naked intimidation … The Orange Order stands for higher ideals than this and must at every opportunity condemn the illegal activities of the paramilitaries and of all those who engage in acts of violence”.
Eric Kaufmann, in his book The New Unionism, writes: “The Orange Order actually took a firm stand against violence and paramilitarism throughout the Troubles. This opposition was rooted in the large contingent of Protestant clergymen who are built into the power structure of the Order. Young Orangemen were urged to join the RUC (police) or UDR (local security forces) and to stay away from paramilitaries”.
Comparisons with the Ku Klux Klan
Irish nationalists and Catholics have compared the Orange Order marching through their neighbourhoods to the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) marching through an African American neighbourhood. The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association of the 1960s-1970s, described them as “Britain’s Ku Klux Klan”
The Orange Order, however, sees itself as defending civil and religious liberties gained via the Protestant Reformation, the Glorious Revolution and other historical events. Martin Smyth, a former Grand Master of the Order, rejects the comparison: “The Order never developed in the southern states [of the United States], because they did not want to appear to be anti-black and didn’t want to work the fertile ground of what would have been the bible belt where there was slavery. They did have occasional blacks, but they were in the northern states”.
Irish republican writer and historian Tim Pat Coogan said that in America, the Order manifested itself in movements such as the Know Nothings and the KKK and that employers also used as a tool for keeping Protestant and Catholic workers from uniting for better wages and conditions. Many Orangemen joined the nativist Know Nothings to oppose 19th-century Catholic immigration in the northeastern United States. During the Klan’s rebirth in the 1920s, members of fraternal organisations such as the Orange Order were courted by Klan organizers in the United States and Canada, where the Klan also sought recruits from such groups as the Masons, the Oddfellows, the Knights of Pythias, the Salvation Army and the Rotary Club.
Brian Dooley says it would be “grossly inaccurate” to suggest that the Orange Order “mirrored” the Klan, but notes that they did share obvious similarities, not least their hostility to Catholicism.
Requirements for entry
“An Orangeman should have a sincere love and veneration for his Heavenly Father, a humble and steadfast faith in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, believing in Him as the only Mediator between God and man. He should cultivate truth and justice, brotherly kindness and charity, devotion and piety, concord and unity, and obedience to the laws; his deportment should be gentle and compassionate, kind and courteous; he should seek the society of the virtuous, and avoid that of the evil; he should honour and diligently study the Holy Scriptures, and make them the rule of his faith and practice; he should love, uphold, and defend the Protestant religion, and sincerely desire and endeavour to propagate its doctrines and precepts; he should strenuously oppose the fatal errors and doctrines of the Church of Rome and other Non-Reformed faiths, and scrupulously avoid countenancing (by his presence or otherwise) any act or ceremony of Roman Catholic or other non-Reformed Worship; he should, by all lawful means, resist the ascendancy, encroachments, and the extension of their power, ever abstaining from all uncharitable words, actions, or sentiments towards all those who do not practice the Reformed and Christian Faith; he should remember to keep holy the Sabbath Day, and attend the public worship of God, and diligently train up his offspring, and all under his control, in the fear of God, and in the Protestant faith; he should never take the name of God in vain, but abstain from all cursing and profane language, and use every opportunity of discouraging those, and all other sinful practices, in others; his conduct should be guided by wisdom and prudence, and marked by honesty, temperance, and sobriety, the glory of God and the welfare of man, the honour of his Sovereign, and the good of his country, should be the motives of his actions.”.
Most jurisdictions require both the spouse and parents of potential applicants to be Protestant, although the Grand Lodge can be appealed to make exceptions for converts. Members have been expelled for attending Roman Catholic religious ceremonies. In the period from 1964 to 2002, 11% of those expelled from the order were expelled for their presence at a Roman Catholic religious event such as a baptism, service or funeral. This is based on the Reformed Christian theology that the Roman Catholic mass is idolatry and was taught by Protestant Reformers such as Martin Luther.
The Order takes as its basis the Open Bible and historical Reformed documents such as the Presbyterian Westminster Confession, Anglican 39 Articles and other Protestant creeds. All prospective members must affirm their Reformed Christian Faith prior to membership.
The Laws and Constitutions of the Loyal Orange Institution of Scotland of 1986 state, “No ex-Roman Catholic will be admitted into the Institution unless he is a Communicant in a Protestant Church for a reasonable period.” Likewise, the “Constitution, Laws and Ordinances of the Loyal Orange Institution of Ireland” (1967) state, “No person who at any time has been a Roman Catholic … shall be admitted into the Institution, except after permission given by a vote of seventy five per cent of the members present founded on testimonials of good character …” In the 19th century, Rev. Mortimer O’Sullivan, a converted Roman Catholic, was a Grand Chaplain of the Orange Order in Ireland. In the 1950s, Scotland also had a former Roman Catholic as a Grand Chaplain, the Rev. William McDermott.
The Orange Institution in Ireland has the structure of a pyramid. At its base are about 1400 private lodges; every Orangeman belongs to a private lodge. Each private lodge sends six representatives to the district lodge, of which there are 126. Depending on size, each district lodge sends seven to thirteen representatives to the county lodge, of which there are 12. Each of these sends representatives to the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, which heads the Orange Order.
The Grand Lodge of Ireland has 373 members. As a result, much of the real power in the Order resides in the Central Committee of the Grand Lodge, which is made up of three members from each of the six counties of Northern Ireland (Down, Antrim, Armagh, Londonderry, Tyrone and Fermanagh) as well as the two other County Lodges in Northern Ireland, the City of Belfast Grand Lodge and the City of Derry Grand Orange Lodge, two each from the remaining Ulster counties (Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan), one from Leitrim, and 19 others. There are other committees of the Grand Lodge, including rules revision, finance, and education.
Despite this hierarchy, private lodges are basically autonomous as long as they generally obey the rules of the Institution. Breaking these can lead to suspension of the lodge’s warrant – essentially the dissolution of the lodge – by the Grand Lodge, but this rarely occurs. Private lodges may disobey policies laid down by senior lodges without consequence. For example, several lodges have failed to expel members convicted of murder despite a rule stating that anyone convicted of a serious crime should be expelled, and Portadown lodges have negotiated with the Parades Commission in defiance of Grand Lodge policy that the Commission should not be acknowledged.
Private lodges wishing to change Orange Order rules or policy can submit a resolution to their district lodge, which may submit it upwards until it eventually reaches the Grand Lodge.
All Lodge meetings commence with the reading of the Bible and prayers that non-practising Protestants, Roman Catholics and people of other faiths and none, `may become wise unto salvation` (which is direct quote from 2 Timothy 3:15 in the Bible).
Association of Loyal Orangewomen of Ireland
A distinct women’s organisation grew up out of the Orange Order. Called the Association of Loyal Orangewomen of Ireland, this organisation was revived in December 1911 having been dormant since the late 1880s. They have risen in prominence in recent years, largely due to protests in Drumcree. The women’s order is parallel to the male order, and participates in its parades as much as the males apart from ‘all male’ parades and ‘all ladies’ parades respectively. The contribution of women to the Orange Order is recognised in the song “Ladies Orange Lodges O!”.
Independent Orange Institution
The Independent Orange Institution was formed in 1903 by Thomas Sloane, who opposed the main Order’s domination by Unionist Party politicians and the upper classes. The Independent Order originally had radical tendencies, especially in the area of labour relations, but this soon faded. In the 1950s and 60s the Independents focussed primarily on religious issues, especially the maintenance of Sunday as a holy day. With the outbreak of the Troubles, Ian Paisley began regularly speaking at Independent meetings, although he is not and has never been a member. As a result the Independent Institution has become associated with Paisley and his Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster and Democratic Unionist Party. Recently the relationship between the two Orange Institutions has improved, with joint church services being held. Some people believe that this will ultimately result in a healing of the split which led to the Independent Orange Institution breaking away from the mainstream Order. Like the main Order, the Independent Institution parades and holds meetings on the Twelfth of July. It is based mainly in County Antrim.
Royal Black Institution
The Royal Black Institution was formed out of the Orange Order two years after the founding of the parent body. Although it is a separate organisation, one of the requirements for membership in the Royal Black is membership of the Orange Order and to be no less than 17 years old. The membership is exclusively male and the Royal Black Chapter is generally considered to be more religious and respectable in its proceedings than the Orange Order.
Apprentice Boys of Derry
The Apprentice Boys of Derry exist for their acts during the siege of Derry from James II. Although they have no formal connection with the Orange Order, the two societies have overlapping membership.
Throughout the world
The Orange Institution spread throughout the English-speaking world and further abroad. It is headed by the Imperial Grand Orange Council, which is made up of representatives from all Grand Lodges. It has the power to arbitrate in disputes between Grand Lodges, and in internal disputes when invited. The Council represents the autonomous Grand Lodges of Ireland, Scotland, England, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Ghana, Togo, and Wales.
Famous Orangemen have included Dr Thomas Barnardo, who joined the Order in Dublin; Mackenzie Bowell, who was Grandmaster of the Orange Order of British North America before becoming the Prime Minister of Canada; William Massey, who was Prime Minister of New Zealand; Harry Ferguson, inventor of the Ferguson tractor; and Earl Alexander, the Second World War general. Mohawk chief Dr. Oronhyatekha (“Burning Sky” or “Burning Cloud” in the Mohawk language) an Oxford scholar was also a member.
The first Orange Institution Warrant (No. 1780) arrived in Australia with the ship Lady Nugent in 1835. It was sewn in the tunic of Private Andrew Alexander of the 50th Regiment. The 50th was mainly Irish, many of its members were Orangemen belonging to the Regimental lodge and they had secretly decided to retain their lodge Warrant when they had been order to surrender all military warrants, believing that the order would eventually be rescinded and that the Warrant would be useful in Australia.
There are 5 state Grand Lodges in Australia which sit under the warrant of the Grand Lodge of Australia, the overall governing body for the Institution in Australia.
The Orange Order played an important role in the history of Canada, where it was established in 1830. Most early members were from Ireland, but later many English, Scots, Italians and other Protestant Europeans joined the Order, as well as Mohawk Native Americans. Toronto was the epicentre of Canadian Orangeism: most mayors were Orange until the 1950s, and Toronto Orangemen battled against Ottawa-driven initiatives like bilingualism and Catholic immigration. A third of the Ontario legislature was Orange in 1920, but in Newfoundland, the proportion has been as high as 50% at times. Indeed, between 1920 and 1960, 35% of adult male Protestant Newfoundlanders were Orangemen, as compared with just 20% in Northern Ireland and 5%–10% in Ontario in the same period.
In addition to Newfoundland and Ontario, the Orange Order played an important role in the frontier regions of Quebec, including the Gatineau-Pontiac, Quebec region. The region’s earliest Protestant settlement occurred when fifteen families from County Tipperary settled in the valley in Carleton County after 1818. These families spread across the valley, settling towns near Shawville, Quebec. Despite these early Protestant migrants, it was only during the early 1820s that a larger wave of Irish migrants, many of them Protestants, came to the Ottawa valley region. Orangism developed throughout the region’s Protestant communities, including Bristol, Lachute- Brownsburg, Shawville and Quyon. After further Protestant settlement throughout the 1830s and 40s, the Pontiac region’s Orange Lodges developed into the largest rural contingent of Orangism in the Province. The Orange Lodges were seen as community cultural centres, as they hosted numerous dances, events, parades, and even the teaching of step dancing. Orange Parades still occur in the Pontiac-Gatineau- Ottawa Valley area; however, not every community hosts a parade. Now one larger parade is hosted by a different town every year.
The Orange Order reached England in 1807, spread by soldiers returning to the Manchester area from service in Ireland. Since then, the English branch of the Order has generally supported the Conservative and Unionist Party.
The Orange Order in England is strongest in Liverpool including Toxteth and Garston. Its presence in Liverpool dates to at least 1819, when the first parade was held to mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne, on 12 July. The Order was an important component in the founding of the Liverpool Protestant Party in 1909, keeping an association until the party’s demise in 1974.
The Orange Order in Liverpool holds its annual Twelfth parade in Southport, a seaside town north of Liverpool. The Institution also holds a Junior parade there on Whit Monday. The Black Institution holds its Southport parade on the first Saturday in August. The parades in Southport have attracted controversy in recent times, with criticism of the disruption that from the closure of the main street in the town centre, Lord Street.
Other parades are held in Liverpool on the Sunday prior to the Twelfth and on the Sunday after. These parades along with St Georges day; Reformation Sunday and Remembrance Sunday go to and from church. Other parades are held by individual Districts of the Province – in all approximately 30 parades a year.
The Orange Order in Ghana was founded by Ulster-Scots missionaries some time during the early twentieth century, and is currently supported by the Institute of Ulster Scots Studies. Its rituals mirror those of the Orange Order in Ulster, though it does not place restrictions on membership for those who have Roman Catholic family members. The Orange Order in Ghana appears to be growing, largely based with the growing democracy there.
New Zealand’s first Orange lodge was founded in Auckland in 1842, only two years after the country became part of the British Empire, by James Carlton Hill of County Wicklow. The lodge initially had problems finding a place to meet, as several landlords were threatened by Irish Catholic immigrants for hosting it. The arrival of large numbers of British troops to fight the New Zealand land wars of the 1860s provided a boost for New Zealand Orangeism, and in 1867 a North Island Grand Lodge was formed. A decade later a South Island Grand Lodge was formed, and the two merged in 1908.
From the 1870s the Order was involved in local and general elections, although Rory Sweetman argues that ‘the longed-for Protestant block vote ultimately proved unobtainable’. Processions seem to have been unusual before the late 1870s: the Auckland lodges did not march until 1877 and in most places Orangemen celebrated the Twelfth and 5 November with dinners and concerts. The emergence of Orange parades in New Zealand was probably due to a Catholic revival movement which took place around this time. Although some parades resulted in rioting, Sweetman argues that the Order and its right to march were broadly supported by most New Zealanders, although many felt uneasy about the emergence of sectarianism in the colony. From 1912 to 1925 New Zealand’s most famous Orangeman, William Massey, was Prime Minister. During World War I Massey co-led a coalition government with Irish Catholic Joseph Ward. Historian Geoffrey W. Rice maintains that Bill Massey’s Orange sympathies were assumed rather than demonstrated.
Te Ara: The Encyclopaedia of New Zealand argues that New Zealand Orangeism, along with other Protestant and anti-Catholic organisations, faded from the 1920s. The Order has certainly declined in visibility since that decade, although in 1994 it was still strong enough to host the Imperial Orange Council for its biennial meeting. However parades have ceased, and most New Zealanders are probably unaware of the Order’s existence in their country. The New Zealand Order is unusual in having mixed-gender lodges, and at one point had a female Grand Master.
The first Orange Lodge in Nigeria was the Lagos Fine Blues LOL 801, which was first listed in 1907 in the returns of Woolwhich District 64 to the Grand Orange Lodge of England. Altogether there were three male lodges and one female lodge. They all appear to have died out some time in the 1960s, due to political unrest. Conversely the Ghana lodges increased greatly in popularity with the return of democracy.
Republic of Ireland
The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland represents lodges in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, where Orangeism remains particularly strong in border counties such as Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan. Before the partition of Ireland the Order’s headquarters were in Dublin, which at one stage had more than 300 private lodges. After partition the Order declined rapidly in the Republic of Ireland. The last 12 July parade in Dublin took place in 1937. The last Orange parade in the Republic of Ireland is at Rossnowlagh, County Donegal, an event which has been largely free from trouble and controversy. It is held on the Saturday before the Twelfth as the day is not a holiday in the Republic of Ireland. There are still Orange lodges in nine counties of the Republic of Ireland – counties Cavan, Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Laois, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan and Wicklow, but most either do not parade or travel to other areas to do so.
In 2005, controversy was generated when the organisers of Cork’s St Patrick’s Day parade invited representatives of the Orange Order to parade in the celebrations, part of the year-long celebration of Cork’s position of European Capital of Culture. The Order accepted the invitation and was to parade with their wives and children alongside Chinese, Filipino and African community groups in an event designed to recognise and celebrate cultural diversity. Subsequently, after consultation with An Garda Síochána, the Order’s grand secretary, Drew Nelson, said both his organisation and the parade organisers were disappointed that the Order would not be attending the festivities. He added that he welcomed the invitation and hoped the Order would be able to participate in the event next year. A Church of Ireland clergyman, Rev. David Armstrong, spoke out against the invitation.
In February 2008 it was announced that the Orange Order was to be granted nearly €250,000 from the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. The grant is intended to provide support for members in border areas and fund the repair of Orange halls, many of which have been subjected to vandalism.
The Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland is the largest Orange Lodge outside Northern Ireland. Most lodges are concentrated in west central Scotland around Glasgow, Motherwell, and parts of Renfrew and Ayr. However, the Order is also very strong in West Lothian, and, to a lesser extent East Lothian. Lodges are also based in the North East of Scotland, the most northerly lodges are located in Aberdeen, Peterhead and Inverness. The order’s presence in the North of Scotland can be located to the fishing industry and importation of workers from Belfast and Glasgow to the north and north east and migration of fishermen in the opposite direction.
In 1881, fully three quarters of Orange lodge masters were born in Ireland and, when compared to Canada, Scottish Orangeism has been both smaller (no more than two percent of adult male Protestants in west central Scotland have ever been members) and more of an Ulster ethnic association which has been less attractive to the native Protestant population. The strongest predictor of Orange strength in a Scottish county for the period 1860–2001 is the proportion of Irish-Protestant descent in the county.
Scottish Orangeism’s political influence crested between the wars, but was effectively nil thereafter as the Tory party at all levels began to move away from Protestant politics toward a more neo-liberal economic agenda.
In 2004 former Scottish Orange Order member Adam Ingram sued MP George Galloway for saying in his autobiography that Ingram had “played the flute in a sectarian, anti-Catholic, Protestant-supremacist Orange Order band”. Judge Lord Kingarth ruled that the phrase was ‘fair comment’ on the Orange Order and that Ingram had been a member, although he had not played the flute.
The Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland has spoken out against Scottish independence, and on 24 March 2007, a parade of 12,000 Orangemen and women paraded along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union.
In 1915 John Amate Atayi, a member of the Lagos Fine Blues LOL 801 moved to Lome, Togo, for work. Here he founded the Lome Defenders of the Truth LOL 867, under warrant of the Grand Orange Lodge of England. In 1916 a second lodge, Paline Heroes LOL No 884 was constituted.
Participation in the Orange Institution was not as large in the United States as it was in Canada. In the early nineteenth century, the post-Revolutionary republican spirit of the new United States attracted exiled Protestant United Irishman such as Wolfe Tone and others. Most Protestant Irish immigrants in the first several decades of the century were those who held to the republicanism of the 1790s, and who were unable to accept Orangeism. Loyalists and Orangemen made up a minority of Irish Protestant immigrants during this period. America offered a new beginning, and “…most descendents of the Ulster Presbyterians of the eighteenth century and even many new Protestant Irish immigrants turned their backs on all associations with Ireland and melted into the American Protestant mainstream.”
The first “Orange riot” on record was in 1824, in Abingdon, New York, resulting from a 12 July march. Several Orangemen were arrested and found guilty of inciting the riot. According to the State prosecutor in the court record, “the Orange celebration was until then unknown in the country”. The immigrants involved were admonished: “In the United States the oppressed of all nations find an asylum, and all that is asked in return is that they become law-abiding citizens. Orangemen, Ribbonmen, and United Irishmen are alike unknown. They are all entitled to protection by the laws of the country.”
Most of the Irish loyalist emigration was bound for Upper Canada and the Canadian Maritime provinces, where Orange lodges were able to flourish under the British flag.
By 1870, when there were about 930 Orange lodges in the Canadian province of Ontario, there were only 43 in the entire eastern United States. These few American lodges were founded by newly arriving Protestant Irish immigrants in coastal cities such as Philadelphia and New York. These ventures were short-lived and of limited political and social impact, although there were specific instances of violence involving Orangemen between Catholic and Protestant Irish immigrants, such as the Orange Riots in New York City in 1824, 1870 and 1871.
The Orange riots of 1870 and 1871 killed nearly 70 people, and were fought out between Irish Protestant and Catholic immigrants. After this the activities of the Orange Order were banned for a time, the Order dissolved, and most members joined Masonic Orders. After 1871, there were no more riots between Irish Catholics and Protestants.
In 1923 the Loyal Orange Institution of the United States of America had 32,862 members in 256 lodges. The office of the “Supreme Grand Secretary” was at 229 Rhode Island Avenue, Washington, D.C.. There was apparently a split in the group in the early 1920s.
Qualifications for membership were restrictive. According to their “Declaration of Principles”: “No person who ever was or is a Roman Catholic, or who shall educate, or cause to be educated, his children or any children in his charge, in any Roman Catholic school, convent, nunnery or monastery, shall ever be admitted to membership.”
The Institution maintained a home for sick and aged members.
There are currently two Orange Lodges in New York City, one in Manhattan and the other in the Bronx.
The Ulster-Scots LOL 1690 was established in Torrance, California in 1998. It was the first new lodge to be instituted in the US for more than 20 years.
Cymru LOL 1922 was the only Orange lodge in Wales. A new Lodge in Cardiff opened on 17 March 2012. The first Orange lodge there for over 90 years.
As part of the re-branding of Orangeism to encourage younger people into a largely ageing membership, and as part of the planned rebranding of the July marches into an ‘Orangefest’, the ‘superhero’ Diamond Dan was created – named after one of its founding members, ‘Diamond’ Dan Winter – Diamond referring to the Institution’s formation at the Diamond, Loughgall, in 1795.
Initially unveiled with a competition for children to name their new mascot in November 2007 (it was nicknamed ‘Sash Gordon’ by several parts of the British media); at the official unveiling of the character’s name in February 2008, Orange Order education officer David Scott said Diamond Dan was meant to represent the true values of the Order: “…the kind of person who offers his seat on a crowded bus to an elderly lady. He won’t drop litter and he will be keen on recycling”. There were plans for a range of Diamond Dan merchandise designed to appeal to children.
There was however uproar when it was revealed in the middle of the ‘Marching Season’ that Diamond Dan was a repaint of illustrator Dan Bailey’s well-known “Super Guy” character (often used by British computer magazines), and taken without his permission., leading to the character being lampooned as “Bootleg Billy”.