Sons of William
George VI Memorial
A District of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland
'IT'S NOT JUST A 12TH OF JULY THING'
Over the marching season the media will be on hand to record images associated with Orange Order parades and relay them to a world audience. Unfortunately the disgraceful behaviour of a few Orangemen, and more particularly the 'hangers on' over whom the Orange Order has no control, will allow TV coverage to portray scenes which will on the whole be entirely negative.
Most people fail to appreciate that Orange Lodges are active twelve months of the year, and that one of the principle functions of their all year round activity is fundraising for charities.
The designated charity for the Orange Order in 2004 was N.I. Cancer Research. The £124 000 handed over to Cancer Research was the largest single donation it has ever received from any organisation in Northern Ireland. BBC NI, UTV, etc., were invited to the ceremony at which the cheque was to be presented to the cancer charity. None of the TV companies responded and the TV cameras were conspicuous by their absence.
For over seven years now the Newtownards District Orange Lodge has sponsored the education of children in a small Christian School for Special Needs children in Bangalore, India. The child who is currently in receipt of their support is a lad from a slum background who has been abandoned by his father and whose mother is barely coping to care for him.
An example of this was when staff became aware that he had not had anything to eat for morning break or lunch for two days in succession and thereafter ensured that food was provided. The school environment offers stability, security and certainty for him, in a young life that has been marked by domestic strife and confusion.
This charitable work by individual and District Lodges is in addition to their donations to the Grand Lodge of Ireland designated charity. Other organisations which have benefited from Newtownards District and private Lodges are NI Chest, Heart & Stoke; Parkinsons Disease Association; Action MS; St John's Ambulance Brigade; and Gospel Outreach, Dublin to name but a few. As charitable giving is not something about which publicity is sought, this aspect of Orange Order activity goes largely unreported.
Unfortunately the mind-set of the national and international media seems to be that 'good news is no news' (especially the medium of television), and therefore a more rounded understanding of the activities of the Orange Order will remain unknown and probably misunderstood, with only the negative images registering in the minds of the general public.
by Billy Currie, July 2005