An examination of the relationship between the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Orange Order since 2001

  • Simon Walls

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis is an examination of the relationship between the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the Orange Order in Northern Ireland since 2001.

A series of twenty one semi structured interviews took place with three distinct interview groups; the PSNI’s first three permanent Chief Constables, a number of its senior officers, and senior members of the Orange Order. The subsequent data was analysed using a qualitative paradigm.

Despite the extensive amount of literature regarding policing, parading, and the loyal orders in Northern Ireland, this study is believed to be the first that asks the question, ‘What is the current relationship between policing and Orangeism since 2001?’ It is
also believed to be the first study that captures the views of senior members of both
the PSNI and the Orange Order in such detail and regarding a single issue.

The literature review puts the current relationship between the PSNI and the Orange Order into the context of the Orange Order’s historic relationship with the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). It describes how policing changed from its early non-partisan form to become closely entwined with unionism and orangeism. Until political and policing changes gradually put distance between these groups. These changes culminated in, but were no means finished by, the formation of the PSNI.

The thesis considers the relationship at both the local and organisational levels, the various factors that influence this, including the Parades Commission, the rural and urban “divide” in the Orange Order and the legacy of the RUC. It suggests that the local relationship is a pragmatic and broadly positive one driven by a need to manage large numbers of peaceful and lawful parades. The organisational relationship is more difficult to characterise but it is one more prone to the influence of events and faces a number of challenges, some of which are beyond the gift of either organisation.

The thesis concludes with a number of recommendations
Date of AwardJul 2015
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorBarry Loveday (Supervisor)

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