The Grand Master Jim McHarg, recently welcomed local MSP John Mason to Olympia House.  As well as being the local MSP, John has at times been an outspoken critic of the Orange Order and has strong views on perceived sectarianism and issues relating to the Union.

Shortly after the meeting, John tweeted that there had been a ‘full and frank’ discussion, which is probably a perfect summary of the session!

During the meeting itself, Jim McHarg strongly made the case that the Orange Order does not see itself as sectarian, and is built on the foundation of religious freedom for all, including other faiths.  Jim also put forward his view that recent comments by John Mason may in fact be fuelling sectarianism that thankfully, is no longer the problem it once was in society.

Whilst the two men may have different views and opinions, and see things from entirely different perspectives, the discussion, although most definitely ‘full and frank’, was always professional and courteous, as it should be.

Grand Master Jim McHarg said,

“I was delighted to welcome John back to Olympia House and felt that our meeting was positive.  We have very different views, and we’re both quite happy to talk these through openly and honestly.  Words can sometimes be dangerous, and I felt it important to call out some instances where we felt that recent comments aimed at us were unfair, unwarranted and in fact might be stirring up ill-will.

“Whilst John may not have accepted some of the points we made, I am grateful to him for listening, and for putting to us his strong views in some key areas too.  Tackling any issue in society requires people being willing to talk and listen in equal measure.  We’ll continue to meet with John and others and continue to play our part in tackling the issues and perceptions that are out there.”