There I was thinking that the Orange Order and its marching bands were pretty much dedicated to doing down popery and perpetuating intolerance.
But, according to the administrators of the Peace III programme, the Orange Order has some elemental cultural merits that I may have missed. Indeed, according to a Mr Pat Colgan, the chap who intends to dole out over £250m of Peace III tax-payers’ money to “community organisations”, the Orange Order is very deserving of £4m to invest, primarily, in 2 museums in Belfast and Armagh. The Belfast building will, apparently, include a research facility. Quite what research is to be undertaken wasn’t made especially clear.
Upon its completion, “this EU-funded project will promote a greater awareness of the history and traditions of the Order” according to Colgan who is one of the staff members at the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) that, collectively, earn over £2m per year to dole out this money.
Quite why £4m of EU money needs to be invested by EU tax-payers in building greater awareness of the history and traditions of the Orange Order is a mystery. There isn’t clear evidence that there is any demand from the general populace to know much more about this nasty little institution. Rather, the funds that have been allocated to Peace III have to be spent. Mr Colgan and his team appear to have little choice but to pour money into the very institutions that have helped perpetuate bigotry, intolerance and division in our society. So much for “shared community spaces”.
If an argument were needed as to why the EU’s budget should be cut, this is it. And for this, and a myriad of other reasons, I applaud Bernard Jenkin and the other Tory rebels who helped defeat the government’s EU budget recommendations in the Commons last night.
I hope that one consequence of the EU budget cut might be that the Peace III budget is withdrawn and the SEUPB is summarily closed down.