It was formed in Ireland in 1903 by Tom Sloan and others, who had been expelled from the Orange Order when they voiced opposition to it being used for party political ends by Ulster Unionists. Originally it was associated with the labour movement, but it soon realigned itself with traditional unionist politics.
Like the Orange Order it is a Protestant fraternal organisation dedicated to the principles of the Protestant Reformation. It takes its name in memory of King William of Orange of the house of Orange who fought at the Battle of the Boyne, brought about the Glorious Revolution and the Bill of Rights giving the Westminster parliament ultimate power of the country rather than the Monarch. It is addressed annually on the Twelfth of July by Ian Paisley, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, during its celebrations, although he is not a member. The Independent Order is small compared to the main organisation with about 1500-2000 members. It is largely based around the County Antrim area of Northern Ireland but has lodges around the world, including England, Scotland and Australia.
The Bishop Farrar Memorial Lodge was formed in 1982, under the authority of the Loyal Orange Institution of England.
This was the year of the Papal visit and members of the lodge organised protests helped by Ian Paisley. These included a demonstration and a Christian service in Crown Square, Manchester, on the day the Pope visited that city.
In 1989 the decision was taken to leave the Loyal Orange Institution of England and join the Independent Loyal Orange Institution, thus becoming the first Independent Lodge in England outside of Liverpool.
A "parade of witness" and a memorial service to the dead Bishop Farrar were held in Halifax in May 1991, in which 200 IOO members were led by three bands.
The lodge currently publishes a newsletter, The Orange Sentinel in support of the Independent Loyal Orange Institution. It also maintains an archive of press cuttings concerning the Roman Catholic Church and is in the process of creating a website .
The first notable effect after the formation of the Independent Order was a more liberal interpretation of the rules of the "old order." In the early years of the Institution many suffered the full wrath of the "powers that be", who were opposed to any splitting of the Orange Order. Jobs were lost, homes were burnt and their headquarters in Belfast bombed. Independent Orangemen believe that while the "Old" Order maintains what they see as its totalitarian laws, its political affiliation, and its "spiritual weakness", the "principles of the Reformation" will not be kept to the fore in its ranks.
Independent Orangeism today maintains that it is essential for the Orange Institution to be kept free from politics and to guard the principles of Reformation Protestantism. They often expressed alarm when they believed these principles were endangered by conciliatory politicians. They are opposed to ecumenism. While being opposed to Orangeism being linked to the Ulster Unionist Party they are not apolitical and tend to work alongside unionist politicians and parties.
The structure and size of the Order lends itself to good communication and disciplined action based on that communication. Thus they have been able to participate in strikes, days of action, and parade protests. On occasions lodges have been given area responsibility as part of an overall co-ordinated, disciplined and peaceful protest action.
The Institution also promotes Ulster Protestant history. This is most obvious during the Twelfth and other parades, but also involves lectures, tours of historic sites and commemorative publications.
The Institution proclaims the principle of "Liberty of Conscience". They declare their right to think and act independently without direction from political or clerical masters. They seek to strengthen the position of Orangeism. They often warn of the danger of the development of a social and cultural Orangeism devoid of Protestant principle.
They claim the support of all Protestants with their slogan:
Protestantism, not politicsIndependent Orangemen believe that Protestantism is the religion of the Bible and the foundation of modern democracy.
Principles, not party
Measures, not men
The Independent Orange Institution possesses 3 degrees - the Orange, Plain Purple and the highly ritualistic Royal Arch Purple. The layout of the Independent Orange Institution degree system is outlined in the Independent Loyal Orange Institution 'candidate instruction' booklet which states: "There are three degrees in the Institution, the first being the Orange...Upon receipt of the Plain Purple degree a member is entitled to hold office in his Private Lodge and to attend the meetings of District. The Royal Arch Purple degree is the longest and most detailed degree. A member who receives this degree can attend County and Imperial Grand Lodge meetings."
This degree, worked within the Independent Orange, is in essence the same as that employed by the Royal Arch Purple Chapter, although like any distinct organisation it has some slight differences.