HomeNewsOrange Order ban anti-Catholic songs such as Billy Boys and Famine Song

Orange Order ban anti-Catholic songs such as Billy Boys and Famine Song

The Orange Order has banned its members from playing anti-Catholic anthems The Billy Boys and The Famine Song in this year’s parade season.

The vow to punish anyone defying their orders, comes as the Lodge tries to rebrand its movement seen by many as a haven for sectarian bigotry.

David Walters, the Grand Lodge’s executive officer, said: “We’ve informed bands that certain tunes could be interpreted the wrong way — The Famine Song, for example — and said, ‘It’s not the members that sing this but people on the sidelines might put words that could be seen as offensive’.”

He told The Scottish Sun on Sunday: “And The Billy Boys, we’ve told people they should refrain from that. We don’t want to offend anybody. We don’t want to be causing disharmony among the community. But if it did happen, action would be taken. If it’s not stopped immediately, it would be informed to a senior member of the institution.”

His remarks were echoed by Grand Master Andrew Murray. He said: “It’s members of the public we can’t control who consume alcohol outside the roads. If you come along, please act responsibly. It reflects on the image of the Orange Order.”

The Famine Song is based on an old melody – which was popularised by the Bee Gees – but has lyrics that are widely considered sectarian and racist. The chorus goes “the famine is over, why don’t you go home?”. And The Billy Boys – which contains “we are up to our knees in Fenian blood, surrender or you’ll die” was also a staple around Ibrox. It was in initially named after a Glasgow razor gang of the 1920s led by a Blackshirt, Billy Fullerton. The criminal went on to found the Glasgow branch of the British Union of Fascists and became a bodyguard to the pro-Nazi, Oswald Mosley.

There is confusion on which “Billy” the song is in reference to, Fullerton or King William of Orange – the hero of Protestant orders.

Provost Drew McKenzie, who has attended lunches at a Freemason lodge

Thousands are expected to take part in parades around Glasgow and Airdrie this weekend. The provost of Inverclyde was forced to apologise – first reported in the Scottish Catholic Guardian – after he called the parades a “spectacle” in a newspaper column welcoming the march to Greenock last Saturday. Drew Mackenzie, an independent councillor, used terms like “Tim” and “Proddy” and cited the loyalist slogan “No Surrender”.

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