“these two communities who define Northern Ireland do not live in irredeemable contempt of each other”

There’s a grimness and seeming inevitability to yesterday’s events that smack of the adolescents (some of them long enough in the tooth to know better) being allowed to take over the running of the whole place. But Malachi O’Doherty’s piece is a reminder that, whatever the deep misgivings, occasionally a simple act of civility transcends the madness:

…two features of the Twelfth were unforgettable: the awesome appearance of the banners coming over the Railway Bridge like the sails of galleons in a summer breeze, and the money we made returning lemonade bottles we gathered from the flattened field.

There is no point in over-stating this and pretending that we loved the parade. My mother felt she had to go out and cut her own orange lilies for fear they would be read as a sign to drunken bandsmen that they could knock on our door and ask to use the toilet. When they did, she chased them.

But there was a neighbour in a mixed marriage whose garden backed on to open ground between herself and the field, and her tired cousins would pocket their sashes, climb over the fence and come into the house and have their tea.

All of this is precious little to weigh in the balance against the angry mood of the Orange Order and the fears raised by its campaign of civil disobedience against the Parades Commission.

But it is a reminder that these two communities who define Northern Ireland do not live in irredeemable contempt of each other.

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