The Orange men marching on Drumcree Church
The idea of Orange bands and supporters marching through Dublin streets, as advocated by one of their leaders, Chief Secretary Drew Nelson, to the Irish senate this week is absurd.

It is always the weak-kneed liberals in Irish political parties who demand that we should consider the rights of such an organization to march through Irish streets.

They conveniently utterly ignore the massive anti-Catholicism and racism of the group, not to mention its continued propensity for violence, if it does not get its way.

There is freedom to march and then there is freedom from bigotry. The two directly clash here and the Orange Order has such a bigoted past that it should not be allowed near Dublin streets unless it changes its ways

Here is the oath every Orangeman signs up to when he is chosen to join: “He should strenuously oppose the fatal errors and doctrines of the Church of Rome, and scrupulously avoid countenancing (by his presence or otherwise) any act or ceremony of Popish worship; he should, by all lawful means, resist the ascendancy of that Church, its encroachments, and the extension of its power.”

The F-- the Pope Bands who take part in Orange marches sing a wonderful air called “We are the Billy Boys,” the first verse goes like this:

Hello! Hello! We are the Billy Boys
Hello! Hello! You'll know us by our noise
We're up to our necks in Fenian blood
Surrender or you'll die.

Charming I’m sure.

Anti-Catholicism is rampant. On July 12, 1996, Robert Saulters, a future Grand Master of the Orange Order, told a meeting that the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, "has already sold his birthright by marrying a Romanist. He would sell his soul to the devil himself. He is not loyal to his religion. He is a turncoat."

One can only imagine how Saulters felt when Balir himself converted to Catholicism.

Should we encourage these bigots to march in Dublin? I really don’t think so. Despite best efforts in recent years to somehow portray the Orange marches as cultural rather than triumphal events, the reality of the sectarian swagger deep in the souls of the serried files of Orangemen marching is never far away.

We are on the cusp of July 12th week when Northern Ireland resounds to the pounding of the Orange Order’s Lambeg drums as they commemorate their distant victory over Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne.

The year 1690 never seems as alive as it does during Orange marching week. Bonfires, “Kick the Pope” bands and displays of triumphalism all take over as the masses seek to insist that “God is a Prod,” as one Orangemen memorably remarked.

Yes, we have progressed mightily in Northern Ireland, but in spite of rather than because of the Orange Order.

This is a group that continues to refuse to negotiate over marches through Nationalist areas, a group that most recently brought Northern Ireland to the verge of conflagration over the contentious Drumcree march.

They have been a massive brake on progress, unyielding and unflinching in their sense of superiority and their right to rule.

In fairness many leading Unionists also recognize the need to change, and the power sharing government is an overwhelming acknowledgement of that.

But like the dissident IRA groups on the Nationalist side, there are still irredentist forces on the other side such as large elements of the Orange Order.

The idea of encouraging them to march through Dublin streets sends the wrong message altogether.

Would they invite the hardline Dissident IRA supporters to do the same up the Shankill Road in Belfast?

You can bet not. Irish authorities should feel the same about them marching in Dublin.