Irish Orange lodge trailing behind over ‘lingering sectarianism’, Protestant minister warns

Irish Orange lodge trailing behind over ‘lingering sectarianism’, Protestant minister warns

The Orange Order must drop its “out-of-date”, sectarian regulations and embrace more tolerant attitudes towards Catholics, a prominent Protestant minister has urged.

Dr Ken Newell, a former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, said there are “lingering elements” of sectarianism in the loyalist organisation, and that the Irish lodge should be more tolerant of other religious perspectives.

“There are elements of lingering sectarianism that need to be dropped and the best way to drop them is to develop very positive social and religious attitudes, while still being able to bear witness to your own Protestant faith,” the minister, who played a significant role in the peace process, told The Irish Catholic.

“To do so, without looking over your shoulder to a past that is now well and truly gone and needs to be translated into modern and I would say more tolerant attitudes.”


Dr Newell’s comments come after news that the Orange Order in Scotland has lifted its longstanding ban on members entering Catholic churches. The archaic rule states that members of the order “should not countenance by your presence” any act of ceremony of Catholic worship, but this practice is widely disregarded by members today.

Describing sectarianism as on the “fringes”, Dr Newell said that the decision by the centre of the Scottish lodges to remove the sectarian regulation is a “move in the right direction”, and that Ireland should follow suit.


“The Scottish lodges are now marching ahead, and it looks as if the Irish lodge is being left behind. It’s seen as more connected to the past than the Scottish lodges would be,” Dr Newell said.

“The Scottish lodges continue to be loyal in their orangism but don’t feel that that needs to be done with out-of-date regulations and what would be seen as negative aspects that are not necessary to the core of orangism.”

When this newspaper contacted the Irish branch about the new move, a Grand Lodge spokesman said: “This is a matter for the Grand Lodge of Scotland. We have no further comment to make.”