A LOCAL ORANGE ORDER survey has revealed that just 10 per cent of members would attend a GAA match, with 73.8% stating they would not.
Similarly 62.5% of the Orangemen surveyed disagreed with inviting a GAA team to the Twelfth of July, with only 18% supporting the move.
The survey also raised concerns over the naming of some club grounds, with one comment saying the “GAA should be ashamed of calling their pitch after gunmen”.
The revelations have come to light from the Orange Community Audit, published by the County Fermanagh Grand Orange Lodge. The document, completed last year, was commissioned by the Order with the intention of increasing understanding and good relations across the community.
More than 600 members of the Loyal Order in the Fermanagh and a representation of people from across the community; including the voluntary, statutory and public sectors took part in the extensive information-gathering exercise.
It took a year to complete and was supported by Fermanagh District Council and delivered by Green Hat, a locally based consultancy.
Participants expressed opinions on a range of topics including parading, the use of Orange halls, flags and community education. Other noteworthy results from the audit include the 66% surveyed who said they were suspicious of some Roman Catholics, while 38% were suspicious of some Protestants.
A further 54.3% of members believe Roman Catholics are suspicious of the organisation. Interestingly half of the members surveyed in Fermanagh felt the rule preventing members from taking part in Roman Catholic Church services should be changed.
A comprehensive 89.1% felt the general public doesn’t know enough about the Order, its history, its culture and other aspects of its work. It also finds that while good community relations are perceived as very important, only a little over half – 51.4%– felt the institution was doing enough in the county to promote this objective.
County Grand Master of County Fermanagh Grand Orange Lodge, Stuart Brooker said he was not concerned by figures related to the GAA and admitted they weren’t a surprise.
“I suppose findings like that are maybe something you would sort of expect from a survey of an organisation like ours, but turning the coin over I think it shows we weren’t afraid to ask the question.
It comes to mind you never ask a question you don’t want to know the answer to , but we’ve asked those questions and the answers that have come back we must accept them as they are.”
Martin McBrien, a former secretary of Derrylin O’Connell’s GFC was not surprised at the findings. “That’s just their impression or misconception to a certain extent of what the GAA is and what it stands for.” He also moved to clarify a comment in the report which intimated that the Derrylin ground had been named after a terrorist.
“Unless Daniel O’Connell was a gun man, which I’m not aware of. Certainly that would be totally incorrect, Daniel O’Connell was totally opposed to violence.”
Mr McBrien conceded that there may be lack of knowledge in GAA circles about the order and their activities.
He added: “Probably a lack of communication is partly responsible”.
Mr Brooker admitted the fact that 89.1% of those surveyed felt the general public doesn’t know enough about the Order was a worry and more work to educate people on the organisation was required.
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