A leading member of the SDLP has praised a journalist with an insight into unionist politics for an article which calls on the Orange Order to rethink its relationship with the Catholic Church.
Ballymena councillor Declan O'Loan was impressed with a piece in The Irish Catholic by John Coulter, son of North Antrim Ulster Unionist assembly member the Reverend Robert Coulter.
In the article, Mr Coulter said the order should "revamp the spiritual qualifications of an Orangeman" so that only 'born-again Christians' can join.
Mr Coulter's article said the order's "religious remotivation would also force it to rethink its relation with the Church of Rome, especially with the growth of the evangelical Catholic movement within Ireland.
"These are Salvationist Catholics who view themselves as 'born-again Christians', but rather than leave Catholicism, have chosen to evangelise from within.
"This presents a real spiritual dilemma for an evangelically motivated order how does it support fellow 'born-again brethren and sisters' who have chosen to remain as Salvationist Catholics within the Roman Catholic Church? Again, the qualifications will have to be redrafted to allow Evangelical Orangeism to work spiritually with Salvationist Catholicism."
Mr O'Loan welcomed the comments from Mr Coulter as "evidence of some original thinking".
"He calls for the Order to abandon its political activity and restructure itself as an entirely religious organisation," he said.
"Remarkably, he also calls on the Order to rethink its relations with the Church of Rome and to work spiritually with 'evangelical Catholics'."