Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Beacons and the hornet’s nest of bonfires

Wed 10 July 2013, 3:30pm

Driving into work every morning I pass a number of bonfire sites. The stacks of pallets strewn across the sites on the Donegall Road have been gradually sculpted into tall towers. It’s good to see an absence of tyres at Monarch Street. (Their bonfire suffered from being lit prematurely in 2011 and was given a Council-provided beacon and a hastily reconstructed tyre-ridden replacement bonfire.)

Bonfires have rarely been out of the news headlines in recent weeks:

Yesterday, DRD Roads Service’s Traffic Watch put out a warning to advise that the recently installed traffic lights at the back entrance of Belfast City Hospital would be switched off over the Twelfth.

TrafficWatch City Hospital

A bonfire is built each year in the fenced off land at the end of Coolfin Street. This year the pallets are stacked up at the front of the site, as far away from the houses as possible. However, one of the new traffic lights is likely to melt unless Roads Service physically remove it.

Donegall Road City Hospital bonfire

Common sense seems to disappear during the Twelfth fortnight. Bonfire constructors seem to forget how hot their fires get and how they wouldn’t like to be the person living closest to the flames. The normal societal niceties of not melting street furniture, not poisoning people with the fumes from burning tyres and asking permission to build fires on other people’s land seem to disappear too.

Like many councils, Belfast City Council runs a bonfire management programme under its Good Relations Unit. Financial incentives (ie, grants for bouncy castles and entertainment etc) are used as levers to address health and safety concerns (eg, promising not to burn tyres) and make celebrations family-friendly and reconnected with “the cultural significance of bonfires”, and avoiding burning flags.

Small beacons and larger frame constructions (5m tall reusable pyramids filled with sustainable willow and placed on a heat shield bed of sand) are offered as alternatives to the traditional bonfires.

BCC beacons bonfires stats

Within Belfast City Council’s area, there are expected to be just short of 80 bonfires lit tomorrow evening. Just over half of bonfire sites now participate in the Belfast City Council bonfire management programme. Over the past three years there has been a small but steady increase in the number of sites taking part in the BCC programme. However, around 40% of sites are still not involved. (The figures above are for Eleventh night festivities and exclude beacons/bonfires in August or Halloween.)

Belfast City Council comment:

So far [in 2013] groups have complied with the guidelines for participation in the programme. Where there have been issues such as illegal fly-tipping/dumping at sites, we have dealt with these. For example, tyres which were dumped on the Lower Shankill community last week were unwanted by the community and removed and disposed of by the Council.

Over at the King George V Playing Fields two summer’s ago I spoke to the bonfire organiser Rob about their approach and rejection of the council scheme.

The Belfast Telegraph quotes Lagan Valley MLA Jonathan Craig (DUP) commenting on the need for cross-departmental cooperation to address the issue of bonfires:

No Government department will touch the [issue of] bonfire sites. They see it as a hornets’ nest. Some of the departments see it as unsolvable … We are walking away from the communities on these issues.

With the DUP occupying the positions of First Minister, Minister of Health, Social Services & Public Safety (overseeing the NI Fire & Rescue Service) , Minister for Social Development (overseeing urban regeneration as well as the NIHE on whose land many bonfires are built) and the Minister of Finance and Personnel, that should be a good start to address some of the burning issues.

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Comments (94)

  1. Morpheus (profile) says:

    Excellent blog.

    I think the competitive nature of these bonfires has gotten out of hand and organisers seem to have forgotten the meaning behind them and totally ignore the wants/needs of the community. I mean, shutting off the electricity? Come on. That to me is those in authority being too spineless to tackle the issue resulting in costs spiraling out of control.

    Bonfires aren’t family-friendly anymore – they haven’t been for a long time in my experience. How many parents want their children to watch flags and effigies being burned and drinking in the streets etc?

    I often wonder if we asked attendees why they are burning bonfires would the response be something about ‘themmuns’ or something about “Williamite ships”

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  2. Barnshee (profile) says:

    This is nonsense remove it or reduce it in size by fiat if necessary

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  3. Nevin (profile) says:

    “That to me is those in authority being too spineless to tackle the issue”

    Morpheus, those in authority tend to be careful about who they choose to pick a fight with. I’ve had a closer look at the fly-posters on the BT boxes and found this story about legal action threatened by said authorities.

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  4. redstar2011 (profile) says:

    Each to their own

    If your ” culture” involves burning a pile of tyres and matresses whilst boozing al fresco and spewing out hate for your Catholic neighbours, go for it.

    Dont expect 1 others to respect it, 2 this behaviour to be acceptable for much longer.

    Just like the fascist parades, the games up lads. The days of your smoke filled drunken sectarian fests are numbered. Cheers!!!

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  5. Ulster Press Centre (profile) black spot says:

    Alan, I think I missed your blog on the bonfires which took place last August? Can you post a link?

    Also, worth reminding Slugger readers that the last time Nationalist propaganda targeted the Donegall Road bonfire it was subsequently attacked by a Nationalist in a stolen car – driving at women and kids in an unprovoked sectarian attack as the fire was lit.

    http://s15.postimg.org/fpjjzm8mz/Screen_Shot_2013_07_10_at_17_08_24.png

    Let’s hope the same doesnt happen again this year.

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  6. iluvni (profile) says:

    Where would an injunction fit in with some of these ridiculous and dangerous bonfires?

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  7. UPC – At the end of a post in July 2011 I asked folk to get in touch in invite me to August bonfires and celebrations – no one responded. They do seem to mostly fly under the radar.

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  8. Ulster Press Centre (profile) black spot says:

    Perhaps – to have a bit of ‘balance’ – you could try a bit harder this year?

    Or maybe write a few blogs which cast some light on the dark underbelly of the GAA which doesn’t get half of the attention as the Orange Order seems to get on this site?

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  9. Am Ghobsmacht (profile) says:

    UPC

    Agreed, such an incident is reprehensible.

    What I must ask you though, is to clarify your personal stance on sectarianism?

    In this instance that you refer to (the car attack) you are quite clearly opposed to it. Good.

    Now, in the case of other sectarian instances e.g. bandsmen singing “what shall we do with the f****n b*****d?”, the singing of ‘The Billy Boys’ or indeed the burning of the effigy of the Pope what is your stance?

    Don’t see this as a snooty attack, rather a genuine question as I am curious.

    Personally, I condemn the whole bally lot and expect to leave ‘The field’ in quite a huff after a barney with someone on friday as I know from personal experience it’s only a matter of time before some one starts talking about ‘f*****s’.

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  10. Ulster Press Centre (profile) black spot says:

    Am Ghobsmacht: What I must ask you though, is to clarify your personal stance on sectarianism?

    Now, in the case of other sectarian instances e.g. bandsmen singing “what shall we do with the f****n b*****d?”, the singing of ‘The Billy Boys’ or indeed the burning of the effigy of the Pope what is your stance?

    I have no problem with ‘the Billy Boys’ – it’s a rough and tumble football song from the 1920s and should be treated as such. I’ve heard much more offensive and threatening songs at Anfield.

    As for the Pope, I thought the leader of an organisation which has systematically raped, abused and ruined the lives of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children around the world would be treated with contempt by all right minded people?

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  11. Am Ghobsmacht (profile) says:

    UPC

    “I have no problem with ‘the Billy Boys’ – it’s a rough and tumble football song from the 1920s and should be treated as such. I’ve heard much more offensive and threatening songs at Anfield.”

    Thank you for your honesty.

    As for the Pope(s), by no means their greatest fans (bit of a Hitchens fan myself) and I would love to see some closure for the many many victims world wide, but I just can’t piece together your concern for these Catholic child victims with your non-opposition to a song which includes the line “we’re up to our necks in f****n blood”.

    It’s horrible to bugger Catholic children (yes) but fine to slaughter them to the extent that their blood runs neck-deep?

    Pot-kettle-noir?

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  12. Ulster Press Centre (profile) black spot says:

    It’s just a song buddy. Obviously I would condemn anyone who actually put the lyrics into action.

    As I said, I’ve heard far worse at Anfield – especially in the bars before and after the games.

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  13. Davy McFaul (profile) says:

    In terms of bonfires the one around Lanark Way must be seen.

    The statue of the Virgin Mary close to it’s base is particularly fetching.

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  14. Ulster Press Centre (profile) black spot says:

    Davy McFaul: In terms of bonfires the one around Lanark Way must be seen.

    The statue of the Virgin Mary close to it’s base is particularly fetching.

    Perhaps it was left there by one of the hundreds of thousands of Irish catholics who have shunned the church since they discovered their children were being treated as sex slaves on an industrial scale?

    http://www.salon.com/2013/03/26/irish_catholics_flee_the_church_partner/

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  15. redstar2011 (profile) says:

    UPC dont put a vile thing past your own religion-C Of E apologised for mass protestant abuse of kids yday.

    Plus lets not forget the ” shenanigans” in those bonfire huts…….

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  16. Davy McFaul (profile) says:

    Davy McFaul – ‘Bonfire has a religious statue

    UPC – Yeah, but look at this.

    Perhaps but it’s much more likely that is was put there by a bunch of neanderthal spides who see stoking the fires of religious hatred and winding the ‘other side’ up as part of their ‘culture’

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  17. Ulster Press Centre (profile) black spot says:

    redstar2011: UPC dont put a vile thing past your own religion-C Of E apologised for mass protestant abuse of kids yday.

    I ain’t religious a charai.

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  18. redstar2011 (profile) says:

    Well keep your hand over your halfpenny in your bonfire hut

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  19. Am Ghobsmacht (profile) says:

    UPC

    It’s not just a song.

    It’s offensive and vile.

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  20. Delphin (profile) says:

    I am finding Slugger a little tiresome just now. There is a continual drone going on in the background, reminiscent of being beside an endless Orange Order march and having to listen to appalling bands like“Sons of KAI Rathcoole” Apariently named after a footballer and not the sectarian gang of thugs. The sad thing is these people think they are being cleaver – remind you of anyone?

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  21. tacapall (profile) says:

    Alan seeing as your post included the site of the Donegal road bonfire the question must be asked is how loyalists got the keys to a locked compound off the management of Belfast City hospital to store bonfire material, or to site a bonfire, that particular spot where you have indicated is the property of the Belfast City hospital.

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  22. Davy McFaul (profile) says:

    “Obviously I would condemn anyone who actually put the lyrics into action”

    Does that mean you’ll cease to be an apologist for the UVF?

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  23. sevendouble (profile) says:

    I must admit that I’m an intruder. I’ve been logging on to this site now for a couple of months and am agog at the sheer craziness. Agog I may be, but I’m also fascinated. I thought the West of Scotland was eccentric, but, your, ‘Wee Country’, takes the biscuit.
    Please don’t judge me as patronising. I am interested in and concerned about the future of your part of the world.
    It’s my part of the world too.

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  24. sevendouble (profile) says:

    Ulster Press Centre
    ‘I have no problem with ‘the Billy Boys’ – it’s a rough and tumble football song ‘.

    It’s a song glorifying Billy Fullerton, a violent, fascist-supporting, razor-slashing, murderous sectarian thug.

    It’s got nothing whatsoever to do with football.
    I like football.

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  25. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    Perhaps – to have a bit of ‘balance’ – you could try a bit harder this year?

    UPC,

    I know you’re just doing your usual whataboutery bullshit, but you might be surprised to find that most nationalists oppose those bonfires. They’re an eyesore, they attract criminal elements as well as rats and vermin, and are not wanted by local residents.

    Problem is, the authorities can’t touch it. Why ? Because then they’d have to go after the 11th night bonfires too. So as usual, regular, respectable nationalists – and their unionist counterparts in places like Articlave – have to put up with the bullshit.

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  26. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    UPC,

    I think you are a breath of fresh air with your tolerant attitude to mere songs. I’m more used to unionists raising bloody murder over songs like the Soldier’s Song.

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  27. Submariner (profile) says:

    Perhaps some of our unionist poster’s would like to enlighten me as to the cultural significance of putting a statue of the virgin Mary on a loyalist bone fire

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  28. JR (profile) says:

    This is what the community that built the Titanic builds these days. Sad when you think about it.

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  29. Morpheus (profile) says:

    Anyone seen this on Facebook? Check out the pictures!

    https://www.facebook.com/ballycraigy.bonfire.7?fref=ts

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  30. Morpheus (profile) says:

    There’s a whole site dedicated to them! One is 119.7 feet tall, a tad excessive?

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/11th-july-Bonefires/100705133312417

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  31. Submariner (profile) says:

    I wonder how many thousands of pounds worth of pallets they stole in order to build it. Thieving is now culture apparently

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  32. qwerty12345 (profile) says:

    As a nationalist with zero interest in the GAA I have to say UPC your reference to their “dark underbelly” has me most intrigued.

    Should I start paying attention now?

    I thought the GAA was just a place where the most boring members of my community coralled themselves for the good of others.

    You have to watch us taigs though we can be terribly sneaky, not as overt as your club where the fun and games are so amusingly overt.

    I have to say following the annual comments on the marching season and everything associated with it is terribly depressing.

    Doesnt it get a bit dull?

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  33. Bishops Finger (profile) says:

    Submariner (profile) 10 July 2013 at 9:54 pm
    I wonder how many thousands of pounds worth of pallets they stole in order to build it. Thieving is now culture apparently
    =============================
    They don’t steal them, they’re donated by the business owners who are prepared to pay the pallet rental company the cost, but probably claim it from their insurance.

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  34. jagmaster (profile) says:

    I could just about stomach this every year if the BBC didn’t give it such extensive coverage. And to think they have the nerve to threaten Nationalist viewers with heavy fines of jail terms if they don’t pay their TV licence!

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  35. Sp12 (profile) says:

    “They don’t steal them, they’re donated by the business owners who are prepared to pay the pallet rental company the cost, but probably claim it from their insurance.”

    Back when I worked in a rather well known bar in Belfast in my student days, the first half of the summer’s duties involved chasing ‘wee scrotes’ that constantly tried to nick the pallets from the back entry.
    The bar’s owners wisely gave a bye-ball for not chasing off the 40 year old hard men who came to do the same closer to the twelfth, workers insurance probably doesn’t cover messing with a knucklehead when he realises his communal penis sculpture is smaller than the other guys.
    It’s just not worth it.

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  36. Ulster Press Centre (profile) black spot says:

    Comrade Stalin: I know you’re just doing your usual whataboutery bullshit, but you might be surprised to find that most nationalists oppose those bonfires. They’re an eyesore, they attract criminal elements as well as rats and vermin, and are not wanted by local residents.

    Problem is, the authorities can’t touch it. Why ? Because then they’d have to go after the 11th night bonfires too. So as usual, regular, respectable nationalists – and their unionist counterparts in places like Articlave – have to put up with the bullshit.

    So… it’s all the prods fault?

    You’re like a broken record.

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  37. ayeYerMa (profile) says:

    jagmaster, we have to tolerate Austin O’Callaghan every single day telling us how wonderful an Irish Republican organisation masquerading as a sports body is. An organisation that has no problem with indoctrinating children with the glory of the Provos.

    The coverage of orange/loyalist events is actually quite poor given their frequency.

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  38. ayeYerMa (profile) says:

    Am Ghobsmacht, you might want to do a bit of research on who the Fenians were.

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  39. Neil (profile) says:

    Just on the debate regarding how the English view Loyalism. So I figured I’d hit the top rated comments under this bonfire piece in the Daily Mail:

    Grumpy in Grumpton says “Idiots”

    John in Cheshire thinks “I don’t know what mandate you think you have but I REALLY resent you polluting my atmosphere for your childish pantomime. To the Police and Fire Brigades too, how dare you allow these people to release so much poison? We are told we must pay £12 for a light bulb to “save the planet” and then you allow this? You are all utter hypocrites. For goodness’ sake grow up.”

    Pashton in Everton “350 years ago….why can’t they let go and stop taunting the Catholics..Live and let live”

    I particularly like Suzie Sue’s post “We are proud of our Union Jack flag but it is terrible to see it hijacked and used as an object of terror and hatred by the loyalist gangs of N Ireland. Snd who are they supposed to be loyal to. Surely not the people they embarrass on mainland Britain. Get over your hatred and move into modern times you bigots.”

    585 comments, and these are just first few top-rated comments. Seriously go and have a read, some insightful stuff there. If you can find one that’s sympathetic to Orangeism you’ll be doing better than I.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2359557/Catholic-King-James-defeat-celebrated-huge-Tyre-mountains-Belfast.html

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  40. Am Ghobsmacht (profile) says:

    ayeYerMa

    Well, I could do a bit more research (assuming that I know nothing, which, is a bit of a bold assumption as I’m constantly plastering historical tit-bits on here and as of yet no one has taken me to task on their accuracy) on The Fenians.

    Let’s assume I find out alll manner of horrible things about them.

    At what point do we declare that when people sing “what shall we do with the f****n B*****d” are singing about the historical group as opposed to every day Catholics, given that

    a/ You’ve just insinuated that some one who evidently reads about Irish history is ignorant of their existence which would further diminish the chances of Jonny Bandsman knowing anything about them

    b/ I used to be in a Loyalist band and going to parades was a hobby of mine in my younger days. I know the context in which this song is (or at least was) sung.

    Perhaps if it was sung by Queen’s Political History Dept Son’s of William I might assume a different context.

    Given the confusion that could be generated by such a song, do you not think that it might paint Loyalism in a poor light? If so is that not another good reason to do away with this song?

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  41. > seeing as your post included the site of the Donegal road bonfire the question must be asked is how loyalists got the keys to a locked compound off the management of Belfast City hospital to store bonfire material, or to site a bonfire, that particular spot where you have indicated is the property of the Belfast City hospital.

    tacapall – Indeed. And every year, a week or two after the bonfire, the railings are repainted green and replaced if too bent. Sounds like public money being spent.

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  42. ayeYerMa (profile) says:

    Am Ghobsmacht, my point is merely that a song in itself is not the problem, as condemning a song in entirety belittles the legitimacy within said song of combating Irish Republican militants from the IRB to the Provos and beyond.

    It is the intent of whatever individual is using it that matters, and as you say logic or nobility often does not prevail with many who do use it. However, this idea of simply trying to silence and censor entirely just because of the actions of some with different intents is a tyrannous affront to free speech. INTENT is everything.

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  43. ayeYerMa (profile) says:

    Neil, yesterday I posted a polite (even for myself!) comment on that extremely sloppy Daily Mail article in order to elaborate on the Twelfth celebrations beyond the rather ignorant and simplistic pro-Republican narrative presented by what seems to be a rather young and London-based journalist by the name of “Anthony”. Such overly-simplistic and lazy journalism is exactly what creates “inflammation”.

    My comment was not published.

    Beyond the ignorance, many of the English criticising are such hypocrites. Standing up to treason in England and having bonfires in hundreds of years old tradition = good. Standing up to treason in Ulster and having bonfires in hundreds of years old tradition = bad.

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  44. Morpheus (profile) says:

    Bonfire night in London

    Bonfire night in Belfast

    Spot the difference

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  45. boondock (profile) says:

    Bonfire night in London

    Bonfire night in Belfast

    Spot the difference

    No-one drinking buckfast in London?

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  46. Delphin (profile) says:

    Burning pallets doesn’t bother me so much. If the bonfire is properly sited its impact should be minimal.
    Tyres are another thing all together. When burnt they produce the same potent carcinogens as cigarettes, so any one down wind will be passive smoking on a massive scale. Burning waste in this way is a crime.
    So far Mr. Attwood’s Environmental Crime Team at the NI Environmental Agency has failed to take any action on this. It is too late this year, but something needs to be done. Make no mistake this is a serious public health issue. You can report concerns using the link below.
    http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/index/information-and-services/environment-and-greener-living/the-wider-environment/environmental-quality-in-your-area/report-waste-crime.htm

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  47. Reader (profile) says:

    Delphin: Tyres are another thing all together. When burnt they produce the same potent carcinogens as cigarettes, so any one down wind will be passive smoking on a massive scale. Burning waste in this way is a crime.
    Besides which, why would people want to spend their time hanging around a bonfire spewing out stinking black smoke? So I wonder why they build them like that whenever they are allowed: do the tyres give the bonfire structure, or stature? Is it the spectacle of the black smoke that they like?
    Anyway, this could probably be handled in a way that doesn’t get all bureaucratic or spark off Armageddon. If there’s a bonfire with tyres in it, knock it down with a bulldozer at lunchtime, and take the tyres away. Anyone who wants a bonfire that night can stand back and wait to rebuild it. Anyone who wants to be locked up for the holidays can try to interfere. I think most people would go for option 1.
    Of course, there’s a chance that they’ll hide the tyres in the middle next year, but it shouldn’t take too much intel to work out which bonfires are the worst offenders and bulldoze them anyway.

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  48. boondock (profile) says:

    Agreee with you 100% reader, to be fair I wouldnt fancy the job of being the guy in the bulldozer though something tells me there would be more than just a bit of drama trying to carry out such an operation

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  49. Neil (profile) says:

    I reckon the tires help with stability, usually they’re in the middle and the flexibility would allow you to stack up so it’s straight and less likely to tip. It’s one of those things bonfires, which to be fair most nationalists just ignore due to them being in Unionist majority areas and easy to avoid.

    Which leads then to the ‘hornet’s nest’ – the politicians don’t want to deal with it because the electoral advantage of doing so looks negligible at best, and the locals are scared to speak out in case they get accused of Lundyism (is that a word?).

    So the people who suffer are ordinary working class Unionists who don’t want to see their house getting melted or at the least know the 11th night is going to be long and noisy outside the front door.

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  50. tacapall (profile) says:

    “Which leads then to the ‘hornet’s nest’ – the politicians don’t want to deal with it because the electoral advantage of doing so looks negligible at best, and the locals are scared to speak out in case they get accused of Lundyism (is that a word”

    Like Alan remarked on Neil, how can loyalists get away with having a bonfire on hospital grounds, how do they get the keys to the locked compound and who pays for the damaged caused to that same compound every year. Maybe Ruth Patterson of the DUP, the local councilor for the area could explain this enigma.

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  51. leftofcentre (profile) says:

    The burning of the virgin Mary statue happened last year as well. I guess we can now class it as a tradition and maybe arrange some funding to pay for more statues for other bonfires? Here is a nice image of the impromptu altar:

    http://www.demotix.com/news/1328288/loyalists-put-final-touches-bonfire-structure-belfast#media-1328260

    Trying to explain the health risks of burning tyres to people who live on fags and WKD and for whom the existence of vegetables is but a bad rumour is a waste of time.

    Because you all accuse me of being a snob, I am from a working class background but it is clear today that the old class distinctions are gone. Now it is basically those who work and those who don’t.

    If you have no job, no stake in society, why would you care what you damage? There is no consequence to your actions, someone else will clean up your mess.

    I just look on in pity at these bonfires. It is sad this is the highlight of their year. Next week they can go back to their life of idleness and pill popping and leave the rest of us to pick up the tab. I equally pity the protesters who deliberately get out of their beds on a bank holiday to go and stand by a road to get offended, the whole situation is nuts.

    The real issue is there are large parts of our society both catholic and protestant that are basically adrift. They are basically unemployable, many can’t read or write and their work ethic is non existent. It is a complete waste of human potential, but there appears to be no solution in sight.

    I have been to the field several times. It is basically a giant loyalist teen drinking session. In some ways I don’t begrudge them their day out, the rest of the year they are trapped in their ghettos. It is the only time of the year any of them are likely to set foot on the Malone Road.

    I don’t mean to come across as hostile, I write these words more in pity that we have abandoned a large section of society to a life of feckless idleness. If I were in there shoes I would be whacking the pills into me too.

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  52. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    ayeYerMa

    Based on past form you won’t reply to arguments you can’t handle, but I’ll indulge you anyway.

    Neil, yesterday I posted a polite (even for myself!) comment on that extremely sloppy Daily Mail article in order to elaborate on the Twelfth celebrations beyond the rather ignorant and simplistic pro-Republican narrative presented by what seems to be a rather young and London-based journalist by the name of “Anthony”. Such overly-simplistic and lazy journalism is exactly what creates “inflammation”.

    My comment was not published.

    Beyond the ignorance, many of the English criticising are such hypocrites. Standing up to treason in England and having bonfires in hundreds of years old tradition = good. Standing up to treason in Ulster and having bonfires in hundreds of years old tradition = bad.

    It’s hard to know where to start with this, it’s wrong on so many levels. Off the top of my head :

    - no Guy Fawkes bonfires take place on publicly owned land without the permission of the owner
    - no such bonfires involve burning tyres, plastic or other materials which are illegal to burn
    - bonfires are not erected near to properties or in places where power lines are put at risk
    - religious effigies or national flags are not burnt

    But most important of all

    - the bonfires don’t exclude half (nay, more than half) of the community.

    I would be perfectly welcome at a Guy Fawkes bonfire. I would not be welcome at an 11th night bonfire. Indeed if I presented myself at one, wearing an Alliance rosette, I’d be placing myself in danger.

    Please enjoy your night out. But please stop assuming that we’re all stupid enough to fall for your bullshit that what happens on the 11th/12th is normal, wholesome, or consistent with what is enjoyed in civilized countries. It is not. The 11th night bonfires are illegal, exclusive, dirty and are a public health hazard. Above all they symbolize intolerance, hate and bitterness, as the Facebook page chronicling their progress shows – almost all of them have either a flag, an anti-Catholic effigy, or slogans such as “KAT” written on them. None of this would not be tolerated in any other part of the UK – or Europe. I might as well add that none of it is tolerated in any community where people actually own their own houses.

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  53. ayeYerMa (profile) says:

    CS, I do have a problem with the size and some of the issues you mention around bonfires. My comments more relate to the narrative around the Twelfth tradition set there by the Daily Mail and many English commenters based on pure principle of having a bonfire alone, and the nonsense of many about it “being in the past” despite Guy Fawkes (and its ‘anti catholic effigies”) being in the same era of tradition, and the fact that the Twelfth also has a lot more to do with people celebrating their right to exist in the very present.

    The differences you speak of are due to NI has been an area under the veil of terrorism for decades and is a natural reflection of that in many but not all bonfires, which is only going to change at its own pace within those local areas (thankfully is changing as e.g. paramilitary shows of strength are not there as before, most coming under regulation, and tyres etc. being reduced, most of such slogans etc. being due to ignorant teenagers), and not because you just because you tut and sneer. The difference between S England and here being that if the terror had afflicted S England the problem would have been dealt with very swiftly with full force of the military, and there would not have been appeasement or bending over backwards to care about the feelings of rebels. Why on earth are you surprised that Alliance collarette would arise suspicion given Alliance’s recent pro-Republican appeasement actions and it’s dire attitudes concerning freedom of speech and expression when it comes to opposing mutually incompatible Republicanism?

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  54. Ulster Press Centre (profile) black spot says:

    leftofcentre: Because you all accuse me of being a snob, I am from a working class background but it is clear today that the old class distinctions are gone. Now it is basically those who work and those who don’t.

    Your post is disgusting. You think only the unemployed go near bonfires and parades?

    I’ll pay more in income tax than you’ll earn this year – that I can guarantee. I’ve just cracked open my first cidre of the evening. Off down to Shawsbridge to enjoy the bonfire later alongside thousands of others and then out tomorrow with half a million law-abiding British citizens to celebrate my culture, history and nationality.

    No doubt you’ll be sitting in watching a Michael Moore documentary guffawing about how stupid everyone else is because you got a degree from the University of Ulster. You’re the one who needs pity my friend – not those out enjoying their lives.

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  55. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    UPC:

    So… it’s all the prods fault?

    You’re like a broken record.

    It certainly isn’t the Prods fault. The victims of these illegal and dangerous bonfires are usually Prods.

    The bottom line, which I note you did not dispute, is that enforcement action cannot be taken against the idiots who light their unwanted bonfires in places like Dunclug or Divis because the authorities have a policy of bonfire tolerance on account of the significance of the bonfires which occur on the 11th night.

    If it were up to me I’d pass legislation at the assembly allowing anyone caught constructing, lighting or otherwise organizing an illegal bonfire to be prosecuted. The nationalists would probably support such a measure; the unionists would oppose it. That’s the reality.

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  56. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    UPC

    Your post is disgusting. You think only the unemployed go near bonfires and parades?

    He was a bit off with the “unemployed” bit but .. who would mortgage a property next to a place with a bonfire site ? A couple of years ago someone came back from holiday and found their house had been burnt down.

    I’ll pay more in income tax than you’ll earn this year

    bet there isn’t a bonfire site next to your house.

    – that I can guarantee. I’ve just cracked open my first cidre of the evening. Off down to Shawsbridge to enjoy the bonfire later alongside thousands of others and then out tomorrow with half a million law-abiding British citizens to celebrate my culture, history and nationality.

    No doubt you’ll be sitting in watching a Michael Moore documentary guffawing about how stupid everyone else is because you got a degree from the University of Ulster. You’re the one who needs pity my friend – not those out enjoying their lives.

    Nothing against enjoying their lives, I’m quite happy for people to enjoy their 12th. Just wish they could do it in the same way civilized people elsewhere in the world do.

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  57. 6crealist (profile) says:

    Burning 100ft piles of tyres, burning the national flag of your neighbours while demanding respect for your own, and tirelessly marching in a bowler hats: all in all, the apogee of cultural expression.

    You truly are the people.

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  58. boondock (profile) says:

    I must have missed the bit on signing up for slugger where we all declared are incomes and tax returns, how strange.

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  59. Am Ghobsmacht (profile) says:

    ayeYerMa

    “Am Ghobsmacht, my point is merely that a song in itself is not the problem, as condemning a song in entirety belittles the legitimacy within said song of combating Irish Republican militants from the IRB to the Provos and beyond.”

    Sorry mate, but we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. The times when I have been most offended to the point of fury have been when people have been singing certain songs in a rather jovial fashion.

    My mates were on a stag do in Galway in May, one of whom lost his hearing in a bomb attack in Derry. Some ‘rapscallions’ started singing a song which contained lyrics along the lines of “god bless semtex (?)” or such like.

    Had I been there I would have rearranged his face. Provided he was half my size. With one arm. And paralysed from the waste down. And had a low pain tolerance…

    So, in my book, don’t sing about blessing semtex and perhaps implying that blowing up some decent people is a good thing and don’t sing about indecision regarding the doom-laden fate of an unfortunate Irish illegitimate.

    Both have the power to punch above their respective weights in causing hurt to people.

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  60. There can’t be that many sources of tyres … particularly given that those bonfires that burn tyres seem to use similarly car-sized ones.

    It’s something the Environment Committee has been nearly investigating since 2011. During one of the evidence-giving sessions an NIEA rep said “We are not specifically addressing the issue of bonfires at the moment”.

    During the same session, deputy chair of the Environment committee Simon Hamilton explained:

    If this inquiry is to be worth anything, it cannot start to assault bonfires wherever they are. A great deal of progress has been made, and there will be no progress on any inquiry that we get into, if it starts to assault the eleventh night or any other occasion.

    The interim report and final report (published in April 2013) are online

    But the cultural/political need to largely ignore bonfires seems to be be another example of committees not using the procedural teeth they have been endowed with to properly address matters.

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  61. SK (profile) says:

    In addition to all those tricolours, I’ve seen photos of a polish flag, a mexican flag, a papal flag, a palestinian flag, and a Lgbt flag all fluttering atop these various monstrosities.

    A truly wonderful little culture.

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  62. JR (profile) says:

    Fair play to whoever decided to return the statue of our lady. Good to see leadership being shown on the loyalist side.

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  63. Neil (profile) says:

    Very glad to hear that JR.

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  64. BluesJazz (profile) black spot says:

    Was the ‘statue of our lady’ still holding her fag and bottle of wkd? Very amusing.

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  65. Am Ghobsmacht (profile) says:

    Very glad too, to hear that the statue was returned.

    It almost passes as good publicity…

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  66. BluesJazz (profile) black spot says:

    Was she still a ‘virgin’ when she returned to west Belfast? Assuming she was beforehand.
    ffs it was a plastic statue!

    You guys don’t get out much?

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  67. Neil (profile) says:

    You don’t have to respect the religion to respect the congregation. It’s a positive gesture and welcomed as such.

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  68. BluesJazz (profile) black spot says:

    Fair enough Neil.
    2 yellow cards and I’m still on the pitch though.

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  69. tmitch57 (profile) says:

    As you probably know we don’t celebrate the 12th in America–our celebration comes eight days earlier on July 4th American Independence Day. It is a custom to let off fireworks on the 4th. In the Northern states fireworks tend to be a government affair with municipalities paying for small local public firework shows while private purchase of fireworks is illegal. In Southern states and states with large numbers of Southerners (illinois, Indiana, etc.) fireworks are legal. These states tend to be populated by what we call here the Scotch-Irish (Ulster Scots). I would guess that this is a combination of a continuation of the 12th tradition transformed and a dislike of government. In Texas at a few schools they build huge public towers similar to the bonfires before the annual football game with the traditional rival school. But here all the parading is done in Eastern cities by Irish-Americans (Catholics) on St. Patrick’s Day every year and no one seems to mind.

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  70. Morpheus (profile) says:

    As least we should be thankfully that no one was killed…
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-23282877

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  71. leonard (profile) says:

    Just been shown a Facebook picture from one of the bonfires. It features an effigy of a priest hanging from a rope at the top of said bonfire. No doubt the late Fr Matt Wallace was the figure of fun. I dread to think how his family will feel when they hear of this.

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  72. Davy McFaul (profile) says:

    Here’s a link to the photo Leonard.

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=192387630928524&set=a.192387627595191.1073741827.152348448265776&type=1&theater

    The comments are also breathtakingly disgusting but no doubt some here will try to justify this as part of their ‘culture’ or a whataboutesque ‘yeah, but look at what themmuns said / did.

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  73. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    I’m not at all inclined to take the side of the bonfire builders but I can’t believe that bonfire made it this far without anyone else photographing it. Are we sure the picture is real ?

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  74. Davy McFaul (profile) says:

    The comments accompanying the photo seem real enough?

    And, the effigy could have plausibly been placed yesterday evening before the fire went up.

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  75. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    Photoshopped photos seem very real indeed. Do we know where the bonfire actually is/was ?

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  76. Davy McFaul (profile) says:

    I don’t know where it is CS but, asi I’ve said, the comments accompanying the photo seem real enough.

    However, now that you’ve introduced the small? possibility of a photoshopped photo I’m sure some of our more ‘vociferous’ commentators from a loyalist persuasion will jump on that particular band wagon and proclaim it as gospel.

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  77. Morpheus (profile) says:

    “A scarf was shaped like a noose and placed on top of a loyalist bonfire in the latest death threat against a nationalist politician in Northern Ireland, it was revealed. The sinister warning aimed at SDLP Stormont Assembly member John Dallat was left on a burning pile of wood during a ceremony in Garvagh, Co Londonderry, marking the start of the Twelfth of July holidays. A note alongside the scarf said life would not be normal until he was disposed of.”

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/noose-threat-to-sdlp-am-dallat-29414613.html

    Very cultural

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  78. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    Davy, well even if the picture is fake it certainly wouldn’t be out of character given the other things that we have seen on bonfires lately. But Facebook is full of photoshopped outrages. For some bizarre reason people love creating fake images and circulating them to see how many likes they get. The FB picture that one is on is weird in that it was created months ago and has had no activity until the account was renamed and that picture was posted on it.

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  79. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    Scrub that – the picture appears to be real.

    I went for a drive this afternoon and passed the bonfire site at Rathcoole, and recognized the houses in the background of the picture. It’s the Rathcoole bonfire alright.

    Separately, the picture has shown up in a bigger version on the Loyalists Against Democracy page. It must have been posted on a loyalist page somewhere.

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  80. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    I might add that I wonder what the Ivory Coast did to get their flag placed on a loyalist bonfire.

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  81. Davy McFaul (profile) says:

    In other news a (desecrated) virgin Mary statue has been returned to a priest in Ardoyne;

    http://www.u.tv/News/Virgin-Mary-statue-on-bonfire-returned/8f0cfa3a-3fd2-4971-98f1-5ed4bf4404dc

    Whilst not being the least bit religious it’s hard to fathom the mindset of someone who would not only hack off the face of a religious symbol but also want to burn it in a ‘cultural event’ just to wind up those who don’t go to a different church from the one you don’t go to.

    I’d imagine the hacking at the face bit would suggest some kind of psychological explanation.

    But, credit where credit is due, at least someone had the clarity of thinking to know the amount of offence which would be caused to those who do attend that church and return the statue.

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  82. HammerTime (profile) says:

    Morpheus your personal crusade to inform us all of as much negativity as possible about today is as sad as it is tiresome. Get a life.

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  83. DC (profile) says:

    If that photo is genuine one thing you can’t accuse the bonfire builders of is pandering to the moral element of the public.

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  84. tacapall (profile) says:

    Im beginning to wonder is there anyone in the Orange Order who even knows its history maybe its just winding up the brethren for the violence that will ensue todays parade but here’s history from one of those wizards or grand masters, whatever you call his bigot name – George Chittick.

    ” An unelected body like the parades commission, they wield arbitrary power, we denounce that. We as Orangemen at the Battle of the Boyne our forefathers got rid of arbitrary power and we will not accept it now or ever”

    Revisionism orange order style, I’d love to know how many Orangemen died or even fought at the battle of the Boyne or how many people from Ireland actually fought at King Williams side. Do Orangemen make up their own history or does someone actually teach them, is there any history books around that could verify Bigot Georges claims.

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  85. Dixie Elliott (profile) says:

    I see the Silly Billys burnt the flag of the Ivory Coast on one of their bonfires or as I call them – The Mountains of Morons….

    https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/p480x480/1003458_10152121983359465_1212816179_n.jpg

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  86. Dixie Elliott (profile) says:

    Protestant Culture indeed…

    King William of Orange was a Dutch Man who invaded England thus the orange. He married his first cousin Mary 11 – a bold sinful act. Her father was the Catholic King James 11 of England defeated by the above mentioned King Billy, so her blood line had a dash of RC in it.

    King Billy was backed by Pope Alexander VIII. The Pope was part of a ‘Grand Alliance’ against Louis XIV’s warring in Europe and supported William’s reconquest of Ireland.

    In fact Catholic Spain was one of William’s main allies in the fight against the spread of French dominance. When William and his army arrived on English soil, he brought with him a Papal blessing and a banner proclaiming the support of Italy and the Pope!

    When William did cross the Boyne on July 1st (NOT THE 12TH) 1690, he had an army consisting of the riffraff of Europe’s mercenaries. His army was made up of Dutch, Danes, Swedes, Prussians and French Huguenots plus a few English, Scottish and Ulster regiments.

    William’s victory at the Boyne was greeted with enthusiasm in Rome. The Pope welcomed the victory of the “European Alliance” forces and Pontifical High Mass was celebrated in thanksgiving for the deliverance from the power of the Catholic Louis XIV and the Catholic James II.

    Oh and one more thing. The Sash was originally an old Irish folk tune called The Hat My Father Wore…

    Altogether now…

    It’s old but it’s beautiful, the best was ever seen,
    It was worn for more than 90 years in that little isle of green,
    It descended from my ancient sires with harmony galore
    It’s the relic of old dacency, the hat my father wore.

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  87. leonard (profile) says:

    Was on the Lisburn Rd earlier. Total mess with all the leftover takeaways and beer cans. Still quite a few young guys/girls in various drunken states in the area. George Romera fans would have enjoyed the scene.
    I had a look at BBC news on line when i got home and the first picture is of a young guy with no shirt on attacking police lines. Its quite probable that he was at today’s parade and has been wound up to go to Ardoyne.
    I expect there will be no shortage of other such incidents and follow up convictions for riotous/drunken behaviour.More wasted, hopeless lives.
    I wonder does the Rev Merv and his brethern think of the consequences for the cannon fodder when they set the wheels in motion.

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  88. Dixie Elliott (profile) says:

    The same In Derry, in particular the Waterside a trail of rubbish along the ‘Traditional route’…

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  89. Leonard,

    That’s the thing that disturbs me most – young irresponsible youth doing what immature adults do, thus resulting in a criminal record that can blight the rest of their lives, especially their ability to get a meaningful job. It’s so sad; the inciters behind the scenes get away scot free.

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  90. leonard (profile) says:

    Hi Joe,

    Think you might be a few years older than me (I’m 52). Do you think this place will ever be normal? I mean a society like England or even down South? I can’t see it in my lifetime.

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  91. Yeah, Leonard, I’m 65. Normality will take a couple of generations I think. Maybe only one with a bit of luck and only with some “proper” leadership from the politicos (mainly the “unionist” ones) rather than them just following the herd. But not in my lifetime, I’m afraid.

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  92. Sp12 (profile) says:

    “Do Orangemen make up their own history or does someone actually teach them, is there any history books around that could verify Bigot Georges claims.”

    I’m currently reading a very interesting book which sheds a lot of light on this, it’s called The Lost Loyal Tribe by Dr. Ian Dudleyson.
    Apparently, the orangemen’s forefathers were once a tribe of Israel, who wandered with the other tribes until God realised that a clerical error had been made and they were a good God fearing and devout tribe, and not idolators like the other tribes.
    And so, God personally appointed the Archangel Trevor to lead them across Europe, on the way they founded lots of major civilisations, invented everything from food to civil liberties and finally received their reward in the shape of Ulster. A totally uninhabited land that no one else dared to live in as God was keeping it special for them like.

    Once there, they gave Queen Maeve a right good kicking when she made fun of an Ullan ‘language’ poem about a computer. And were basically the most awesome guys on the whole Island, but sadly, were betrayed by Westminster in 637 when the Catholic King of England forced parliament to take away their weapons and they consequently got beat up at the battle of Moira by the Tuatha DeFeenyins. After that they had to goto Scotland and regroup for like eight or nine centuries, during which time the Tuatha DeFeeenyins continued their Cultural War by doing stuff like sneaking into the OS offices and rubbing out all the place names that were in Ullans and replacing them with Gaelic names to try and make it look like they had been around there before them.

    They came back home during the Plantation, where they were greeted with open arms and roses by the Tuatha DeFeeynins who realised they couldn’t be trusted to look after themselves as they were always too busy drinking and signing on the bru. About a Century later they sent a regiment to the Boyne who acted as Vanguard of the army and personal guard to King William, they stormed the Pope’s lines shouting their war cry Clur leway and beheaded the pope. William was so pleased with their performance that he gave them all medals, had vats of tonic wine and blue and orange flavoured alco-pops shipped in and they all had a big bonfire to the tune of thumping Dutch techno music. The next day they marched wearing their sashes back to Ulster on roads strewn with orange lilies where even the Tuatha DeFeeynins waved flags in their honour and welcomed them with open arms.

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  93. CW (profile) says:

    “I might add that I wonder what the Ivory Coast did to get their flag placed on a loyalist bonfire.”

    Maybe it was put there by a disgruntled Chelsea supporter who was pissed off when Didier Drogba decided to jump ship.

    Either that or a supporter of deposed former president Laurent Gbagbo, who’s not happy with the new regime under Outarra,

    I believe there are Orangemen in the nearby West African state of Togo, so maybe there’s a connection here…

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  94. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    It would be interesting if the the Ivory Coast were to raise this issue in a diplomatic capacity with the British government.

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