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

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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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  • cynic2

    ” do not live in irredeemable contempt of each other.” ….except in Ardoyne?

  • Son of Strongbow

    Is it not strange that some in the nationalist community, a community that has railed against the majority rule, exclusion of the other that they claim was the raison d’être of the ‘Orange State’, should when they hold sway as the majority in a small local area practise the self-same rule of exclusion?

    Those in the Stormont regime post 1922 who acted in an overtly sectarian manner claimed they did so because they regarded nationalists as fifth columnists working to bring about an all island Free State and as such had to be kept at bay. No dilution of the State’s culture or ethos was to be tolerated. No taint of Green was acceptable.

    Is the reasoning behind nationalist Ardoyne’s exclusion of Orangeism any way different?

  • thethoughtfulone

    I don’t disagree with the basic point that Mr O’Doherty is trying to make.

    However I would strongly disagree with his assertion that a population in the region of 1.8 million is “defined” by a couple of thousand McCooeys from both religions who can’t behave themselves for a couple of weeks in July!

    Surely Northern Ireland is better defined by the tens of thousands of orangemen and bandsmen who parade elsewhere totally peacefully and their catholic neighbours who let them.

  • sevendouble

    Wasn’t the face of the statue smashed off?
    Takes away, somewhat, from the misty-eyed, Kumbaya-style, high-fivin’ exuberance of the gesture.

  • sevendouble

    Sorry, wrong thread.
    Strongbow,
    No, I would not at all think it strange that a community which felt itself wronged would almost instinctively attempt to visit that same wrong on their old adversaries.
    That’s human nature.
    Now think of Mandella, or that wonderful wee girl who was shot by the Taliban
    Theirs is the attitude to which we should aspire.

  • http://www.openunionism.com oneill

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

    At a middle.class level a great deal of politeness and pragmatism sometimes hides it but scratch the surface and too many, perhaps a majority, really and seriously do hate the living guts of the “other”.

    The working class are simply more obvious and honest

  • Occasional Commentator

    “Now think of Mandella, or that wonderful wee girl who was shot by the Taliban
    Theirs is the attitude to which we should aspire.”

    lol not surprised then that Mandela is generally reviled in the unionist community. Some of the stuff said about him on the likes of sites such as ATW recently are pretty sickening.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Is the reasoning behind nationalist Ardoyne’s exclusion of Orangeism any way different?

    I can’t speak for them, but I don’t think the problem is that nationalists simply can’t abide what the OO stands for. If that were true, there would have been no 12th in Derry.

    Instead, by all accounts, there was a magnificent 12th in Derry. Why can’t it be that way everywhere ? Everyone should be asking themselves that question.

  • PeterBrown

    CS

    Have to agree – participated in parades yesterday which caused offence to no-one because of where they were held and how they behaved – those who were indifferent to our presence simply stayed away and we didn’t go out of our way to offend them. the lambegs in Gracehill were watched by people I would describe as garden centre prods and the main parade in Ahoghill was larger than any of the other I have participated in and watched by more spectators. I can’t help but feel that on an annual basis Belfast County and the particularly militant brand of protestor they seem to encounter (a chicken and egg situation exacerbated by members not particularly committed to the qualifications and protestors not particularly committed to lawful peaceful & dignified protest) and that once again the Order takes more than its fair share of the blame – but in Belfast it is always at least partly to blame, this year more so than ever before…

  • Cric

    So in another blog post I commented suggesting that Nationalists residents should let the Orangemen march in order to defuse tension – and while I would be comfortable with Orange Marches passing by my home, I would be uncomfortable actively taking part in an Orange event. Not because I am not willing to engage in the festivities of the other group, but because I would fear for my safety if people knew my background.

    I’ve worked among Orange parades before and had to actively lie about my religion and where I came from when questioned by drunk aggressive people. Even if 99 people out of 100 are fine I’d still be scared of irking the wrath of that one person who is spoiling for a fight – and going by last night there are quite a few of them still about.

  • http://www.secondnature.ie Michael

    I had a great day at the beach yesterday.

    Shame all the people in Belfast couldn’t have had the same pleasure.

    There are loads of potential solutions to the “Ardoyne” problem just as there have been to many other contentious parades in the past (including Derry). It will happen in time. The only trick is to get the “right” people in dialogue. I’m afraid it is a matter of local sensitivities proxied into the national question therefore seemingly intractable. It isn’t. It is not the fault of the Parades Commission, nor the cops, nor the OO, nor the various residents groups, nor the preachers, nor the media, nor the politicians, nor King Billy and James. However each of these shares an aspect of the responsibility to fix it.

    The initiative has to be locally-led by those who have the greatest stake in it – local OO and Residents. They would do well to have an honest broker lead it and to have all the others there. I’d also add the voice of some who’s lives are really affected by the events (those on either side of the interface but not members of any grouping), and local businesses who are affected too. I am sure if people were honest they would say they agreed that the current situation is a pain in the hole and that despite the fun and fury – it would be a better place if it was peaceful.

    At least that would be a start point.

  • odd_number

    PeterBrown

    Carrick Hill was clearly not a chicken and egg situation but one generated by the actions of the band, their supporters and the reaction of the Orange Order and Unionist politicians.

    Cric
    It’s the parades commission who stop marches. Most resident groups are not calling to stop marches, but for dialogue. What would be the tipping point for you – are you saying nationalists should give a bye to oo and it’s supporters, regardless of provocation? Do you believe the people of the Ardoyne are wrong to protest when the Pride of Ardoyne band commemorate UVF man Brian Robinson who killed innocent Ardoyne residents?

  • keano10

    Loyalists now rioting again on The Woodvale Road and 25 jeeps are lined across the bottom of Mountpottinger Road as hundreds of loyalists have gathered in Castlereagh Street as they attempt to attack Short Strand.

    Who exactly is provoking them tonight Mick?
    No parade issues this evening….

  • Cric

    odd_number

    I think life is too short to spend your energies forming residents groups and getting agitated by bigots. The English Defence League and BNP have marches through English streets all the time and everyone knows how repulsive their ideologies are – yet at the same time people like myself will defend their right to free speech and to march.

    So yes as a former resident of Ardoyne myself I’d advocate we let them march by the shops, despite provocations not to. It would be the mature thing to do from a community which is growing in confidence.

  • Mick Fealty

    Keano,

    Other thread please… But going on precedent anything from four days to the end of the summer… Depending on the weather… You may pray to St Jude for rain… ;-)

  • PeterBrown

    ON

    I’m glad that’s the only thing you take issue with but lets remember Frank Dempsey & Co were already out protesting / observing when that unacceptable incident happened and provided them with the grounds for a notified protest….a self inflicted wound for the Order but not as straightforward as you make out

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    It’s Jude for lost or desperate causes and Genevieve for excessive rain. Oh wait…..

  • odd_number

    PB

    I take no issue with anyone enjoying their culture provided it’s not at the imposition of others.

    You have however downgraded ‘protestors not particularly committed to lawful peaceful & dignified protest’ to the rather less convincing ‘already out protesting / observing’ to back up the both sides as bad as each other in Belfast narrative. Not very convincing.

    If the decent members of the OO do not soon stand up against sectarianism, bigotry and triumphalism within their organization , it is doomed to become less relevant and marginalized and more marches will be banned. Who seriously can look at the pictures of the jeering mob coming through Ardoyne in the morning and the drunken rabble trying to walk through in the evening and think anything other than it is right and proper that the march be curtailed until they show some respect.
    The guy with the sash hitting out at police with his stick on video is less likely to be disciplined by the 00 than Tom Elliot for attending Ronan Kerr’s funeral.

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    In a 1986 book, “Children of Wrath: Political Violence in Northern Ireland,” Michael MacDonald wrote that historically loyalists had provoked violence in Ulster in an effort to be able to demonstrate their “loyalty” to the British ruling class in London. This was because their loyalty was their one strategic asset that they could bank upon. Unlike South Africa, Ulster is not full of strategic or precious minerals or oil. This combined with economic competition from recently arrived Irish Catholic workers in the industries of Belfast to produce sectarian discrimination and riots. So this anarchic and anachronistic behavior continues long after the British on the mainland have lost all interest in or appreciation for the loyalty of the unionists.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    tmitch57:

    “Ulster is not full of strategic or precious minerals or oil.”
    Except poor old Fermanagh and a wee bit of Tyrone, perhaps!

    “the British on the mainland have lost all interest in or appreciation for the loyalty of the unionists” except for how they can facilitate fracking in the west. But that does not require political Unionism, for any old party will do if they are keen to help make money for the multinationals! And ongoing political violence does not seem to have discouraged their extraction of oil from Iraq.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    tmitch, here’s a link to the late A T Q Stewart’s “Patterns of Conflict” in his “The Narrow Ground”. I think Tony would probably have a better grasp of Belfast and Ulster history.

  • cynic2

    Who exactly is provoking them tonight Mick?

    Keano

    The Catholics are provoking them by existing in exactly the same way that the OO provoke the republican rioters ion Ardoyne by existing. Its called race hatred

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    @Nevin,

    I read A T Q Stewart’s book over a decade ago. He is mainly discussing the actions of nationalists and the causes of nationalist violence. I was discussing the causes for loyalist provocations such as the July 12th marches and the taunting behavior on the part of marchers–usually juveniles–that accompanies some of them in the most controversial areas.

    I would say that the sectarian violence in Northern Ireland seems to be a well-rehearsed and practiced ritual in which everyone knows his or her part by heart.

    @Sean,

    If there is oil–more likely shale oil–in Fermanagh or Tyrone it is news to me. If there is, it is probably a very recent discovery and may be quite some time before it is commercially extractable. But are you alleging that the attitude of the government in London towards loyalist riots in East and North Belfast will be determined by the possible existence of small quantities of expensive and difficult to extract shale oil in the west of the province?

  • Barnshee

    “…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.”

    Unforgettable– Long ago and far away I copped my first “feel” at at an “eleventh” night fire Josephine where are you —and poor Dougie had no luck with Dympna

  • thethoughtfulone

    “But are you alleging that the attitude of the government in London towards loyalist riots in East and North Belfast will be determined by the possible existence of small quantities of expensive and difficult to extract shale oil in the west of the province?”

    The attitude of the government in London towards the whole of Northern Ireland has been determined for quite some time by the possible existence of small quantities of semtex which may make it’s way over there accompanied by the relevant detonators and policy is all geared around making sure it doesn’t.

    So give us a good old handshake financially making sure a decent bit of it goes to those with control over the semtex, give us our own “government” making sure a decent bit of it also goes to those with control over the semtex, pretend to listen (and care!) when Pete and Marty go over for a chat, and beyond that pretty much anything else that happens we can stew in ourselves as it is inevitably our own doing and if they did get involved we’d only tell them to butt out anyway.

    So they’ve given us the two things people crave, money and power, really what else is Westminster to do?

  • ForkHandles

    “So yes as a former resident of Ardoyne myself I’d advocate we let them march by the shops, despite provocations not to. It would be the mature thing to do from a community which is growing in confidence.”

    Congratulations Cric. You are the only one I can see on slugger who sees the normality of accommodation of other traditions. This stands out a mile from the usual petty bickering on slugger. I really wish people back in NI could get over the tribal thing and understand the world is full of different religions and beliefs and cultures. In the free western world all people are able to hold public events provided they behave within decent limits. It seems to be possible for the community in Derry to have a large public event from a minority religious group provided the event participants behave in a decent way. It should be the same anywhere really.

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    ForkHadles.

    It is absolutely true that the vast majority of OO members behave impeccably and their marches proceed without incident. Why they allow a few to follow them around and behave non-impeccably thus besmirching all of them is beyond me.

  • PeterBrown

    MJ

    Because given the structure of the Order there is relatively little that can be done about it, at least not quickly – for someone like myself at grass roots in County Antrim (no issues by the Order who were accomodating in Rasharkin but still no parade in Dunloy) l can only influence events and in particular membership in Belfast by going up through Lodge, District and County in Antrim to Grand Lodge and then down through County, District and Lodge in Belfast. We’re too Presbyterian in our government in terms of our own members but I am open to suggestions about what they do about the supporters – how do we stop people like this coming up the road behind the parade (this is a hypothetical for me in Gracehill as it’s not a problem our lodge has suffered from or is likely to suffer from)?

  • NOT NOW JOHN

    PeterBrown, perhaps the question is not ‘how do we stop people like this coming up the road behind the parade?’ but rather, ‘why do we allow people like this to come up the road behind the parade?’

    I’ve always got the impression that the grandees of the OO secretly despise the hangers on but recognise that the power and influence of the Order (now rapidly diminishing) are dependent on the support of the same hangers on. Of course the hangers on tend not to be the brightest and therefore a few beats of the drum and a few bars of an anti-fenian song can have them dancing to any tune. We saw that at the weekend. Of course having called on them to do the dirty work in the dark, the OO soon washes its hands of them come the morning. But, of course, they’re rarely smart enough to realise.

    For me part of the problem is that the OO has two faces but only admits to one while its opponents only admit to the other.

  • PeterBrown

    The Orange order has many faces – this one however seems to be limited to Belfast and particular districts within Belfast. I suspect these hangers on are despised by the leadership in Schomberg House but tolerated by the leadership in the relevant districts and it would appear positively encouraged by at least some elements of their local lodges who think they bring power and influence. It is my belief that it is these hangers on and their actions in later Drumcree protests, Whiterock and flags etc who have been responsible for the Order gradually losing the support of middle of the road unionists and it is time that the Order in Belfast realised that whilst their presence may have short term benefits for them for the rest of us they are a liability.

    That said their issues must be addressed but mass Order endorsed protests is not the best method for doing so….

  • NOT NOW JOHN

    PB The Orange Order indeed has many faces, however its public face is an unfortunate one. I have just heard an absolutely awful interview by Mervyn Gibson on Talkback who, if he had a point, was wholly unable to articulate it. Not only was he engaged in an almighty act of hand washing to the point of absurdity, he contradicted himself numerous time including not having the courtesy to speak to Gerry Adams while claiming that the way forward was through engagement with people from the other side. At one point he was reduced to quoting the rhetoric of the DFM with the claim that …… ‘they don’t want an Orangeman/Fenian about the place’ and claiming that he saw no issue with playing The Sash outside an empty Catholic Church. Why is it that the public face of the OO has to be represented by such public relations disaster types?