Unionism’s graduated response proving an interesting challenge, and a far from stupid one…

Somehow there’s an odd resonance between the now infamous ‘Graduated Response’ of Unionists and that classicly ambiguous acronym of Sinn Fein’s TUAS document. The latest iteration is not a call for the collapse of Stormont, but in fact a greater focus on the particulars of the Parades Commission’s decision in North Belfast…

The issue of the Ligoniel parade will not go away after 12th July evening. This is a further part of our graduated response strategy and follows on from our withdrawal from the Leaders Talks, ending contact with the so-called Parades Commission and the steps announced today by the Orange Institution.

In addition, the parties are agreed that at every level – Council, Assembly, Westminster and Europe – the denial of cultural expression resulting from republican violence and threats of violence will have a consequence determining how our members, at each of these levels of government will participate.

It’s an interesting challenge, and not a stupid one. There is a perfectly respectable defence of the Parades Commission decision against the Orange, which is firmly rooted on the grounds of public order, which is that finding against Republican residents groups are likely to be much more dangerous than finding against the OO.

Enlarging the frame of reference, rather than battering the Parades Commission further and getting the same negative result at least shows something more than the fatalistic reflex that has brought us to this pass…

In the meantime, by not explaining what it actually means [I thought we were told that unionists couldn’t do creative ambiguity? – Ed], Unionism has left some of their opponents trying to second guess what it actually means.

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  • respect for all

    There is no denial of cultural expression just a limitation at a particular point of that road.

  • Barneyt

    It frustrates me that we appear unable to find a solution to the marching problem. Two things are clear in my mind. The marching has become increasingly provocative over the years to such an extent it may need to receive a draconian (legal) response. Secondly the level of protest and offence taken from the marching has increased, if not been orchestrated.

    Those that conduct the marches need to understand that there is indeed genuine offence taken, particularly in light of the distasteful direction the marches have now taken. They also need to understand that as communities change, it may not be appropriate to conduct such a demonstration in a particular area.

    Nationalists and republicans and others not classed in the “opposing” camp need to understand the importance of this aspect of the NI British culture, and perhaps otherwise distract themselves for the two mains days of the year, today and tomorrow.

    Easier said than done, but we need to treat this at a petulant level. Sticks and stones…Only the truth can hurt and other idioms need to be voiced. Nationalism needs to get on with life as best they can during these difficult periods, and perhaps the antagonist elements of the order and associated bands will get bored, given a limited response.

    The marching and behaviour will feed off counter demonstrations. I for one would be encouraging religious and cultural confidence within the Catholic and NationalistRepublican community to sell the message that no demonstration or sabre rattling or provocation should derail your beliefs or cultural sensitivities. Don’t let it hurt you.

    On the graduated response thing….I am not sure if it is a code, if it obscures a strategy or if indeed it is designed to imply to the wider loyalist community that all possibilities will be considered. Chances are the GR strategy has a double edge, one that will serve the “leaders” when trouble inevitably breaks out and secondly it serves as a statement to the active elements that they may unleash.

  • USA

    Sorry Mick, it is very stupid. It is idiotic. It’s a mess. All it has served to do is bring fear and instability to society. Unionist leaders are making it up as they go along. They don’t even have a consistent message, with Arlene Foster saying she knows exactly what the graduated response is, yet others stating that it is “still being formulated”. The DUP don’t know what the UUP want (Nesbitt says he doesn’t want to bring people onto the streets), the OO are visiting the Twadell camp (Drew Nelson), and the PUP (UVF terrorists) along side the UPRG (UDA terrorists) are loitering in the wings with the “bonfire committees” and fleggers.
    Frankly I am insulted that you should say “Unionisms graduated response….is far from stupid”. Are you writing tounge in cheek?
    You dislike SF so much that you bring them into this in the second line of your post. This is a Unionist creation, rather that talk with SF, SDLP, Alliance, Unionism has played a purely sectarian game. Unionism has acted disgracefully by not educating it’s electorate over the last 15 years. Unionism walked away from Haas and the recently scheduled “talks”. Your dislike of SF leaves your analysis is deeply flawed. Unionism’s position is ludicrous and will be proved to be so over the next 6 months. They don’t have a “graduated response”, it’s all garbage. Look for infighting within 1 month. Pathetic.

  • Morpheus

    Republican residents groups? How about just ‘residents groups’?

    Just tuned in from Spain and was wondering if anyone else thinks that this whole thing is hilarious.

    Hilarious in that Peter Robinson has shown just how much of a spineless puppet on a string that the First Minister, supposedly the highest position in the land and the ‘leader of unionism’ didn’t even sign the document first prefering to show just how much of a subservient gimp he really is by signing lower down the pecking order. Way to show everyone who is ‘running’ the show.

    Graduated response is described as ‘not stupid’ above but to me it screams of blindly making it up as they go along.

    I wonder how the 98% of the population who aren’t in the OO think about the DUP being so infiltrated – could have said infected but chose not to- by the 2% that they are championing this action

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    There’s been a fairly non-committal response from the SoS to the pan-unionist ‘measured’ boycott:

    The Government will want to look carefully at the proposal put forward by unionist leaders this morning. We have always made clear our willingness to consider all practical options to resolve the situation in North Belfast.

    I welcome the efforts being made to try to find a way forward. I am happy to meet unionist leaders to discuss their proposal as soon as possible.”

    The SDLP’s Alasdair McDonnell has said no to the proposal:

    All of the Executive parties signed up to a process to attempt to resolve our outstanding issues. The British Government must not derail this process by granting permission for this stand-alone Commission of Inquiry.”

    and Alban Maginness seems hopeful that pro- and anti-Agreement militant nationalists will sit around the same table:

    I would urge all political and community representative to remain cool-headed in the days to come. Neither violence nor threatening our institutions will solve any of the challenges ahead. We need to get back to sustained dialogue with all interested parties. Dialogue is the only way we have reached resolution in the past and it is the only way we will do so now. [SDLP press releases – July 10]

    The SoS may be keeping her distance but her Parades Commission buffer’s capitulation to anti-Agreement militant nationalist blackmail weakens the position of more moderate voices in the pan-unionist coalition.

  • mickfealty

    USA [You’re up late!!],

    I’m only saying that ‘creative ambiguity’ has a key feature of almost everything that has taken place since the Belfast Agreement, and it has worked in SF’s favour in a masterly way. I’m only saying that (it seems to me) that the DUP appear to be taking a leaf from that book.

    I mean, how much worse do you think it can it get? Staying at the Haass table to be hit with a prefabbed and partial consensus is just plain stupid from a Unionist point of view. We’ve seen the same approach fail over the Human Right’s bill and proper provision for the Irish language.

    I wish someone would do a transactional analysis on this stuff… because it seems to me that some have got it into their heads that the proper relationship between Nationalism and unionism is Parent – Child (come on, eat up yer greens, it’ll be good for you) rather than an Adult – Adult partnership…

    I’m not sure I buy the ‘we’re not a normal society’ line any more. If societies are anything like families, then none of them are normal any more. And they get less and less normal with each passing decade.

    Anyway, just my tuppenceworth for now…

  • Michael Henry

    At the end of the day People can think as Peter Robinson as a great leader or a missed his chance leader- whatever we think about the leader of Unionism that return march through Ardoyne will not happen and there is nothing Unionism or their joint signatories the Orange Order can do about that before or during that march-( a 6 minute protest will hurt no one )-

    Sure Robinson can have Political protests after the march when most of Political institutions are on holiday but he will just prove that Unionism is not working again- if it ever did-

  • chrisjones2

    “You dislike SF so much ….”

    …. well down the years they have been the apologists for murder, bombings, kidnapping, disappearing people and responsible for covering up rape and incest in the ranks of the members of their wider movement. Indeed they still often eulogize former comrades who have been child killers

    As democrats the rest of us recognise their mandate and that they have a right to be heard but that doesn’t change what corporately they have been in the recent past. And it doesn’t mean that anyone has to like them

    You claim that Unionism has not ‘educated its electorate’. I assume by that you mean it hasn’t acted tried to persuade them to adopt SFs world views and policies. Do grow up politically. What has SF done to educate its electorate at Ardoyne or Garvaghy Road away from their racist and sectarian position?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mick, I think you’re reading something into this that isn’t there.

    I don’t think the rest of us are trying to second-guess what they mean by “graduated response” in a serious way. It’s more a case of wondering what the hell they’re talking about. Far from being a confident and controlled position, I suspect, like others who have contributed here, that Unionism has no idea what to do. Some of its leaders know that any violence is going to work against them and seem to be trying to head that off but other than that .. nothing.

    Pausing the parades for six minutes is a gesture that will be effectively unnoticed by everyone. If they try to frustrate or block business at the council or assembly level, it creates another opportunity for Alliance to once again take them to court, as happened in 1985/86 (amongst the party’s finest moments).

    The only card left in the deck that unionism hasn’t played yet requires them to return to the talks, make proposals and reach compromises. The only strategy that can work in their short-term interests is one which bats the onus back into nationalism’s court.

  • chrisjones2

    This is what happens (on both sides) when most of us don’t vote and let the nutters play. How many votes does it take to become a Councillor or MLA?

    The problem is that we have far too many politicians. With the need for larger quotas they would have to look outside their local swamp. Some Councillors are elected on the back of 1400 first preferences. If an average OO Lodge has 50 members plus their extended families, a Unionist needs the voting support oa about six lodges and their extended families to get elected.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    CS, I’ve read APNI condemnation of paramilitary murals in West Belfast. Can you point me to similar condemnation of the GARC blackmail that rolled over the Parades Commission?

    The Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) has asked me to publish their latest Statement to the Media on the Ardoyne Republican Blog. GARC reiterate it’s opposition to sectarian parades through the Greater Ardoyne Community. However, the residents group has withdrew plans for a mass mobilisation on July 12th, 2014 after determinations by the Parades Commission and widespread community consultation… source

    Did GARC ‘consult’ with APNI? I doubt if it consulted with CARA. Has David Ford, the Minister of Justice, participated in covert activities similar to those that were held last year?

  • Jag

    So, after a week, the graduated response is little more than a public retweet of a 5-point pledge to peaceful protest (which, by Saturday evening is likely to look laughably or premeditatedly naive).The signatories to the Ulster Covenant must be rolling around in their graves.

    The TUV (representing 80,000 voters) didn’t even bother to field its leader, which tells you something about how weak and meaningless the first (and last?) step in the tapered response is.

    And the response from nationalists is predictable, with absolute support for the rule of the Parades Commission (though it’s ironic to see SF pour scorn on an “unelected official” in Dublin when he doesn’t licence a few concerts, and for the SFers to use the debacle as cover to reopen the debate over an elected Lord Mayor of Dublin and to bring planning decisions under the control of an “elected and accountable person”)

    Madame Villiers has promised to consider the proposal of a judicial review of the PC decisions in north Belfast, and she’ll no doubt get round to it, probably in September [2014, though it might as well be 2015 for the amount of serious attention it will get].

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Tovarish
    I agree, this is either a cunning master stroke the machinations of which are beyond the comprehension of us mortals or a complete cluster-f***.
    I know what my money is on….

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “The TUV (representing 80,000 voters) didn’t even bother to field its leader”

    Jag, you may not have seen this TUV response:

    While statements from Stormont’s terrorist inclusive executive may be seen as positive by some in the media the reality is that they do nothing to calm the situation on the ground.

    Perhaps the Executive statement contributed to the absence of a TUV signature.

  • Séamus

    What ‘blackmail’ are you referring to?

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Séamus, you can see from this BBC 2010 report that SF have difficulty restraining groups such as GARC. The Athboy conspiracy applauded by Gerry Adams back in 1997 and in operation post the 1994 ceasefire is a genie that may well have escaped from the bottle; Gerry may or may not have turned but it would appear that GARC is not for turning – to coin a phrase.

  • Jag

    No, I think Richard Cairns for the TUV did the retweet honours on behalf of that party. Jimbo’s absence though was as significant as the DUP fielding non-elected personnel for the opening of the recently reheated Haass talks.

  • streetlegal

    British Intelligence are monitoring the situation hour by hour. Serious street violence is anticipated – loyalist paramilitaries in Belfast are expected to be out in force tomorrow. Concerns have been expressed at the failure of the new Chief Constable to request additional policing back-up and they may now be unable to hold the line in north Belfast.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Jag, Richard’s name is on the statement and it appears to be a direct criticism of the DUP and UUP. Hence my speculation about the absence of a TUV signature.

    I thought perhaps the reason Mervyn Gibson and Sean ‘Spike’ Murray were participants in the Haass talks was because of their participation in earlier exchanges about parades. Neither are elected representatives.

  • Robin Keogh

    The measured response from Unionism is nothing more than a random statement of nonsense. Mick is right in the sense that it seems to be getting people wondering, ooooh what next? But the reality is exactly as it has always been. Big house Unionism will grunt repectfully at unfavourable decisions and call for ‘peaceful’ protest safe in the knowledge that their working class hate machine will go out and wreck the place. This is how it has always been, unlikely to change in the near future.

  • babyface finlayson

    What is the nature of the 6 minute stop? Will it be held in silence?
    Hopefully it will not be in the vicinity of any Catholic churches with the temptation for inappropriate tunes and/ or inappropriate micturation.

  • Barneyt

    Street violence against whom? Police most likely I suspect. How can you be sure this is being monitored as you say? NI Internal intelligence? Are we really talking about conflict between rival cultures here? Lets hope not

  • Katie-o

    The opinion section of the Irish News this morning is saying there is little substance to the unionist plan, more importantly it asks ‘and after the graduated response fizzles out we still have to find a way of resolving the issues which continue to divide us’.

  • Jag

    Now that GARC has sought a judicial review of the outward Ardoyne parade tomorrow morning, with a court decision expected any minute now, we are seeing the outplaying of the Unionist stance that if it is logical to allow an outward parade, what’s the problem with an evening return parade. GARC has turned that on its head, and challenged the logic of the reciprocal.

  • Mirrorballman

    2010 report? Its 2014 sir. The only blackmailing on display at the moment is from the unionist political/paramilitary alliance that now threatens to disrupt the governance of this part of the world at all political levels at the behest of a quasi-religious fascist organisation.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    My apologies, Jag, I think I’ve misunderstood your comment; the name Richard Cairns is new to me:

    Richard Cairns was representing the TUV in the absence of leader Jim Allister with the proceedings chaired by the Rev Mervyn Gibson. Irish News, July 11

  • Mirrorballman

    I’m sure it will only be a coincidence that they stop for 6 minutes outside St Patrick’s……..

  • Croiteir

    The illogicality of compromising before you enter talks which may need compromise?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’m only half-following this story (though I suspect I haven’t missed much). The DUP response seems not unreasonable. Clearly, you can’t let the issue be settled by working out who is going to cause the most violence, or who is the most intolerant of the other culture. If we don’t make it clear freedom of assembly and freedom of cultural expression are fundamental rights, only to be curbed in the most extreme circumstances, we are setting ourselves up for pointless conflict ad infinitum. Otherwise, it’s a licence to take offence at the drop of a hat. Hardly a way to live together amicably. I don’t have the right to stop groups I don’t like parading down a street near me. I just don’t, it’s an absurd, illiberal idea. Where I live in England there are regularly groups of people acting like twats in public nearby. But I grunt and move on: if they’re doing it peacefully, I don’t imagine I have some right to stop them. In a progressive society, live and let live has to win out every time. So it’s hard to criticise the DUP for taking this seriously. The SF campaign of agitation against Orange walks serves only to keep sectarian tension high and takes us back to the Dark Ages. I’m sure the Parades Commission is trying to be reasonable but if it wants to stand up for our shared values of tolerance and freedom of expression and our right to have our cultures respected, then it needs to adopt a heavy leaning towards parades proceeding. And it needs to ignore those who go out of their way to take offence where none is intended.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nevin, I don’t speak for Alliance or anyone else. If you want their view, ring them up and ask. 028 90 324274. They’re used to cranks calling them so if you give them a lowdown on your ideas about the “Athboy Strategy” I’m sure they’ll listen to you very intently and give you the best answer they can.

    If you want my own opinion .. I do not accept the unionist claim that GARC blackmailed the Parades Commission.

    I have no idea why you think GARC should consult with APNI. The party’s function is to fight elections and support elected representatives, not mediate in parades disputes.

    Since I do not have access to the Justice Minister’s schedule or details of any meetings (secret or otherwise) he may have had, I have no idea whether there have been further such meetings this year. That said, I don’t see the problem with government ministers meeting the Parades Commission and the police – given their remit I’d imagine it make sense to do so.

  • notimetoshine

    I don’t mean to be stupid or asking the obvious, but since this ‘graduated response’ was announced I have been wondering, what the hell does it actually mean?

  • Comrade Stalin

    EDL marches passing near or through Muslim communities in England are banned by the police, MU. And no politician would dare suggest otherwise.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Judicial review of the Parades Commission will not succeed.

    That said, I do wonder where they found the cash to bring the review. It’s expensive.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Watch out for the Walter Mitty.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    and Bengali marches passing by white racist estates are allowed – which is right. Gay Pride going past the houses of homophobes is allowed – which is right. Or would you give in to the haters?

    I’m not sure of the details on the routing of EDL marches – but in my view they should be allowed wherever possible. However, there is a difference I think when a parade organiser picks a route for a parade where there has never been one before, from a traditional parade that has always followed the same route. The onus surely is on residents to show why they have a problem with it – and to get it moved, there surely should be a very high bar of proving legitimate offence taken. Further, the decision cannot be affected by anyone’s threat of violence, either way.

  • Tugger

    And when ‘their working class hate machine’ don’t go out and ‘wreck the place’ will you be back on here next apologising for this racist, sectarian, arrogant comment?

  • Mister_Joe

    They hoped to get legal aid. That failed and the challenge has been dropped.

  • Roy Walsh

    I’m disqusted by this whole thing, although finally this might post.
    The Unionist amalgam might now avoid violence, and do all they can to ensure none is directed at police preventing them going where they want, and the parades commission say they cannot, that’s ‘the parades commission’ not ‘the so called parades commission’.

    On the other hand, having their following, orangemen, bandsmen/women, and other supporters, listening all day to anti-Catholic, anti-establishment, ranting, they must be held responsible when their drunken, temperance supporters do engage in violence following the above rhetoric.
    If they can ensure their membership can avoid conflict with their neighbors then they have the chance of next year, complying with last years commission determination, slow learners.

  • Robin Keogh

    If you spend even a moment watching the news media or following social media comments you would be aware that there exists a small but significant violent Unionist block out there overwhelmingly working class that are hate breathing dragons. My comments are neither racist, sectarian or arrogant and only somebody drenched in denial could believe otherwise.

  • Robin Keogh

    ” well down the years they have been the apologists for murder, bombings, kidnapping, disappearing people and responsible for covering up rape and incest in the ranks of the members of their wider movement. Indeed they still often eulogize former comrades who have been child killers”

    ***YAWN ***

  • Comrade Stalin

    Very hard to get legal aid for such a thing too.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Here’s an example of EDL marches being banned. Note how the reason for the ban is simply the prospect of violence along the route. Which is the logic that unionists here are complaining about.

    I agree that marches should be allowed “whereever possible” and this should be starting point. But it’s the definition of “possible” that’s the problem.

    The talk of “traditional” is a red herring. There are many, many parades that are not at all traditional, for example parades in the urban parts of Newtownabbey which didn’t exist years ago. There are many parades whose route was changed a long time ago for all kinds of reasons. This is just a bit of cleverness so that unionists can place conditions on the word “tolerance” so that they don’t have to explain why they cannot tolerate republican parades near to majority unionist areas.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    No need to go all ‘cranky’, CS. Do try to maintain a modicum of civility ;)

    Sorry to have troubled you. I thought – wrongly as it turned out – that you had some insight into APNI thinking.

  • Tugger

    And when they don’t ‘go out and wreck the place’ will you come back here and apologise?

  • Tugger

    You obviously having been following this saga over the past few years. Those who comply by the PC regulations are continually punished while those who open fire on police, throw petrol bombs, pipe bombs, etc are rewarded. Please keep up.

  • Tugger

    What’s your problem with peaceful, lawful protest?

  • Roy Walsh

    Tugger, if you read last year’s determination, it’s available online, you’ll see what it offered and, how the Orange Order failed to meet these conditions. If you can’t see this I can’t help you but, have a look at the videos of the Orangemen, wearing sashes, attacking police, of Unionists in paramilitary clothing at the’ peace camp’ so, yes, residents did previously attack police but the parades Commission had not made a determination on the protest, it has on the parade and it’s return.
    I assure, the Orange Order will move heaven and earth to prevent trouble so next year they may obtain permission to proceed but, they cannot ponsias pilate themselves from the message they provide to them who will listen to them.

  • PeterBrown

    Would this not be the Determination the PC didn’t make (sic) on the protest which resulted in the infamous breeze block incident? http://www.paradescommission.org/viewparade.aspx?id=46481

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    ” If we don’t make it clear freedom of assembly and freedom of cultural expression are fundamental rights, only to be curbed in the most extreme circumstances, we are setting ourselves up for pointless conflict ad infinitum. ”

    Is that not the case at present?
    As in thousands of parades (many through/in nationalist areas) pass off peacefully and without controversy and ‘the extreme cases’ such as Ardoyne are partly curbed?

    If Robbo, Jim Allister and Mike Nesbitt put as much effort into enforcing a code of conduct for parades as they do about ‘cultural freedom’ then surely there’s a chance that some of these parades would lose their offensive edge and could potentially be seen as a ‘non-issue’?

    I mean, this could be a double edged sword, drum up a strict campaign that targets ANYTHING that lauds terrorist idols/culture/practices and then use this to have a stab at the GAA or West Belfast murals or whatever it is that floats their boat as well as bringing a respectable veneer to marching.

    “The SF campaign of agitation against Orange walks serves only to keep sectarian tension high and takes us back to the Dark Ages.”

    If and where SF agitate Orange parades (NOT in Magherafelt, Rossnowlagh or Londonderry incidentally) then there is obviously a call for smart thinking on the part of the OO and unionists.

    For a start, they could stop making it so easy for them, there’s too much gifted on a plate to opponents of marching culture.

    ” I’m sure the Parades Commission is trying to be reasonable but if it wants to stand up for our shared values of tolerance and freedom of expression and our right to have our cultures respected, then it needs to adopt a heavy leaning towards parades proceeding”
    A heavy leaning to parades proceeding? Well, arithmetically speaking ‘THEY ARE’.
    How many parades have proceeded and how many have been banned?
    That’s a very curious thing to say given the statistics to hand.

  • Roy Walsh

    Peter, this is the 2012 Determination, yes, violence did result from ‘protesters’ in 2012, my reference is to last years Parade and it’s requirement of discussion to overcome issues with residents, to commence from Sept. ’13.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’ve said more often than enough that I can’t speak for anyone except myself. I hope it is clear to you now.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The Parades Commission reported something like 89 violations of determinations associated with Twaddell and gave this as one of the reasons as to why a return parade past Ardoyne was denied. Why are you lying ?

  • PeterBrown

    Sorry that was at best unclear – but there have been talks in 2013 and 2014 and yet the violence has at least in the perception of some resulted in the parade being banned and the use of violence to overturn that. I can understand that the Parades Commission must have wrestled with this one but I don’t see the justification for reversal (although I for one think that this does not justify violence which frankly has made it easier to ban the parade this year by the way). Requirements for talks is also particularly difficult for this parade bearing in mind the issues with the residents groups and their ability to represent the community itself which the recent BBC documentary (Spotlight? rather than Ross Kemp or the infamous bin bag 1 hour special by the way) seemed to undermine somewhat

  • Red Priest

    Its rarity. We oft get promised it…and then the violent, lawless type turns up instead.

  • Red Priest

    The unionist response in a nutshell –

    “I shall do such things, I know not yet what they are, but they shall be the terror of the earth!”

    The trick to constructive ambiguity, is not actually being ambiguous with yourself. ‘Them lot’ may not have to know what you mean. But you have to.

  • Roy Walsh

    I can understand the response of elements within PUL on the discontinuation of a march past Ardoyne.
    I think the issue with ‘residents groups’ does complicate matters as the PUL, locally, have to speak to their enemies, then to their enemies enemy, which in this case is certainly not their friend.
    The Commission, seen by those who appointed it, and themselves, as ‘reasonable people’ or, the man on top of the Clapham omnibus, have to balance what is best for society, at any given determination. Here, clearly, an emphasis was laid with the orange order to halt and, if they engage positively in talks with the local community(s), there was the probability of the full route being delivered this year.
    There can be no doubt, from the Commissions determination that they, objectively, do not see sufficient evidence of compliance with their 2013 determination.
    As of 20.00 last evening, this appears to be changing.

  • Jag

    Merv Gibson has just emerged from the bathroom, and wait, yes, it was in fact a bowel movement.

    The second phase of the graduated response is now complete, and again, has been an outstanding success.

  • PeterBrown

    We’ll see if there is any reward for yesterday next year but I have my doubts. Also what is the point of discussions with GARC if it is opposed to all parades under any circumstances except that the Commission requires it. Also worth noting Portadown district claim to have been asking GRRC (coincidentally close acronym?) for talks for some time and are being rebuffed yet GRRC has not been penalised?

  • Robin Keogh

    So here I am the day after the twelfth to say how happy I am that despite some minor scuffles the nasty element in Unionism decided to either stay away yesterday or simply behave themselves, content with burning the Iriish flag, pictures of politicians, effigies of the Pope etc etc. Maybe this is the beginning of a new phase in Orange Culture, finaly realising that they cant push, bomb, bully, riot and threaten to get their way.

  • Tugger

    Well done Robin. That’s a good start.

  • Tugger

    You must have missed the news today/yesterday then…..

  • Tugger

    And why was it banned before Twaddell’s civil rights camp was set up?

  • Robin Keogh

    Thanks tug ;)

  • Red Priest

    Oh, I find patience in these matters rarely disappoints. Early yet….

  • Jag

    How crafty of Madame Villiers to arrange a meeting next week with the LUPOs to discuss their oidea of a legal review of parading decisions, because she’s unlikely to be still in post.

    Who will be taking over from her? Surely not that awful Greg Clark, who has been at a bit of a loose end since last October.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Mainstream nationalist parades fine of course and should be allowed wherever possible too – but I think paramilitary parades are a different beast and we are not obliged to put up with terrorists or ex-terrorists parading openly and seeking to glorify their organisations. I am aware there are bands that have been on Loyalist parades that are thinly veiled UDA or UVF displays, I’ve seen them though I don’t go to 12th parades these days. Displays of support for paramilitary groups should be absolutely banned.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I agree the vast majority of parades are rightly allowed to proceed. But the going-out-of your-way-to-be-offended protests against some parades are still there, are unnecessary, and are easily enough to cause the high tension over parading that SF want. As Gerry Adams asked his audience in Athboy in 1996, “Do you think Drumcree happened by accident?” He went on to explain that the 1996 stand-off came after 3 years of hard work by SF activists.

    Polls taken in the early 90s and before show attitudes to Orange parades, even after several decades of the Troubles, were much more tolerant even within the Republican community, than they became after this “hard work”. So I do think this as really a contrived issue, whipped up by SF because they can and because as soon as there is any conflict over marches, nationalism is the winner. The Orangemen are being played of course, but they have no choice really but to stick to their course. Sometimes it’s right to stand up for yourself, even if it makes you look bad. And to be fair to Orangemen, they don’t care if they look bad. They probably should a little more than they do; but I sort of respect them for their single-mindedness on this as well.

    This is really a story of slick, sophisticated political operators trying to make PR hay by teasing the dumb proles, whom they despise for their ethnicity and for their unwillingness to be pushed around. It’s not something I admire much. When you add to that the fact that these slick operators were until recently actually murdering the marchers who so offend them in their hundreds and thousands … really, people siding with the protests here should have a think about what many of the people marching peacefully have been through – and let them parade in peace.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    MU
    I understand your point because I’ve heard similar points so many times before but really, if you declare yourself to have an ‘enemy’ then why give them ammunition?
    The OO, for the greater part despises SF.
    I understand that. I get that. Box ticked. Done.
    Now, I don’t know how you handle your enemies but I seek to put them on the defensive and deprive them of support. (though to be fair, I can’t say I have very many enemies, though I was hospitalised in fight one time, but sod it, young man, alcohol and all that jazz…), anyway, point is, if the OO hate the IRA etc then why do they adopt the approach that will make SF look like the good guys?
    Can you imagine if all the Ulster military heros of WWII did the same?
    Gen Auchinleck: “I was thinking, instead of revising the current failing strategy, we stick with it and get our arses spanked. But as long as we look proud, stubborn and uncompromising while we’re doing it, well, Hitler will be terrified…”
    Dorman Smith*: “Great idea Sir, I have just compiled the British version of modern tactics according to the advancement of modern machinery, but sod it, let’s just blunder on in there. Hiy.”
    Gen Alan Brooke: “Dear diary, today I figured it best to stop arguing about the way things are done, not to put my neck on the line any longer nor show any strong leadership in the face of Churchill’s wrath. Sure, what’s the worst that could go wrong…?”
    Lt Col Blair Mayne, SAS: “Yesterday I was tearing around on fast vehicles with machine guns tearing the place up rightly cos the enemy didn’t know how to cope with it. But on reflection, I figured it best to adopt an entirely predictable and defeatable course, I mean, why win a battle when you can just be stubborn and crushed?”
    Sorry MU, I don’t buy it.
    The OO have the numbers, the brains, the moral guidance, the history and the people to make their marches respectable.
    Instead they defend their cancerous elements like Ardoyne.
    If Belfast can’t behave like proper Orangemen then they don’t deserve to walk like proper Orangemen.
    Any pushing by SF should be responded to by smart ‘pulling’ from the Order itself.
    And as for the ethnicity idea, well, if the OO weren’t Irish they wouldn’t use Irish symbols or have the word ‘Ireland’ emblazoned on some of their banners.
    And as for the Gaelic banners of LOL 1303….
    *Yes, Dorman Smith/ O’Gawen became a republican but the man deserves credit for his role. Monty was a show stealer…

  • MainlandUlsterman

    War is not a good analogy. If your “enemy” is gaining advantage in war then you need to do something about it. But here we are talking about two ethnies living side by side, which should not be a purely adversarial relationship, but one that’s about mutual toleration, not mutual destruction. Orangemen could change their behaviour radically to deprive SF of ammunition – and God knows I wish they would – but in doing so, they might say, they would have already given victory to SF by effectively dancing to their tune. They have a point there.

    The OO is an ‘Irish’ organisation of course in a sense, dating as it does from pre-26-county-secession days and organised island-wide. But the status of Ulster Protestants as a separate ethnic group from Irish Catholics – “the ethnicity idea” – is more than an idea, it is a long established reality. It doesn’t mean we’re irreconcilably different, just that we are noticeably so, in terms of national identity, religion, often family origins, some aspects of speech, use of symbols, sporting allegiances and sports, not to mention the many other little cultural ticks and markers. I’m not saying it’s great to always mark each other apart – actually these differences don’t matter so much and it would be nice if all Northern Ireland people had a stronger shared identity – but it can’t be denied it’s what we have inherited. Whether those different identities will endure or should endure is another question. Personally I think it’s inevitable they will to some extent and it’s better to come to terms with the “other” identity than get all weird about it like the OO and the Shinners do.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “But here we are talking about two ethnies living side by side, which should not be a purely adversarial relationship, but one that’s about mutual toleration, not mutual destruction. ”

    Well, given that we were just talking about the dastardly deeds of SF and NOT two communities living side by side (explicitly) then war is (I think) a fair enough analogy.

    To shift the emphasis from outgunning SF to mutual toleration is moving the goal posts a tad and obviously the war analogy is then void. But to be fair, you were talking about aggression of sorts from SF so I answered in kind.

    The OO are not the sole representatives of one community and SF are not the sole representatives of another.

    Furthermore, as much as the Belfast OO may feel like they would be ‘giving in’ to SF they would also be accommodating the following groups:
    People not interested in marching, the police, business owners, the government(s), tourists, Richard Haass, Orange men who are disgusted at the Belfast OO and people who are sick and tired of the mayhem that comes around every year with marching season, British people who are appalled and embarrassed at the sight of union flag clad drunkards being water-blasted off the rooves of police Land Rovers with a can of Tennents in hand… (as well as yourself and I).

    SF do not speak for all of these people.

    And by respecting the wishes of these groups they are in no way dancing to SF’s tune.
    Indeed, IF SF are about provocation then this would be the opposite.

    As for the shared identity, I’m all for focusing on what we have (or had) in common, but the underbelly of marching makes this difficult;http://loyalistsagainstdemocracy.blogspot.com.au/2014/03/the-price-of-culture.html
    many loyalists have turned their backs on aspects of their culture and yet bleat constantly about the importance of their culture.

    It’s worthy of a Graham Linehan sketch.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    My point about SF was that *they* are making the 12th adversarial and the way to respond to that may be not to attack back but simply to turn the other cheek and carry on. Nothing deflates a bully like that, as a certain bearded 1st Century Jewish guy noticed.

    It would suit lots of us if the marches didn’t happen. Which is exactly why it’s important they do. One of the tests of whether we have an open, tolerant society is surely, can we put up with something we don’t like (as long as it’s legal – no one’s expected to tolerate rape, theft or murder). It’s no good saying, we’ll only tolerate you if you change to be more like what we want. That isn’t real toleration.

    Where I think residents can have a point – and it’s lost a little in all the sectarian-flavoured attacks on the Orange tradition – is if there is bad behaviour around the edges of parades (drunken signing of sectarian songs, pissing in front gardens etc). My advice would be to focus on this. But the nature of some of the protests suggests nothing will assuage them, because they think they have a right to stop organisations they don’t like marching near them. They just don’t.

    If you want a relaxed, shared NI, we just can’t have such thin skins – especially when we’re also expecting the other side to tolerate us too. On both sides, we need to not pander to the easily offended – we should all just tell them to get over themselves.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    MU
    I think we’re singing partly from the same hymn sheet in some areas.
    But there is a habit of dismissing criticism of some parades on account of SF.
    Now, few people love to rant about the negative impact SF has on some matters. Truly, some one here said I have an ‘emotional’ problem with SF.
    However, as you highlighted, they do have legitimate concerns.
    If SF happen to agree, well, even I can’t fob off their opinion.
    With regards to the test of a tolerant society, I would add to that list the ability to respect the feelings of others and how they might see your actions.
    Like I said before, I never liked marching in nationalist areas, I couldn’t see the point and I knew I wasn’t welcome.
    At the end of the day, many nationalists feel about the Ulster flag as we would feel about the tricolour; negatively.
    Neither of which are the flag of NI.
    With regards to being easily offended; think of the songs that are played, the flags that are flown and the merchandise that is sold in ‘the field’.
    People have every right to be offended at such things.
    A true test of how to determine what constitutes ‘easily’ offended would be a republican and nationalist parade that mirrors some loyalist parades in every respect: KAH badges and chants (or even hairdos!), memorial bass drums to dead Provos, tricolours, starry plough flags, songs about being up to one’s neck in Proddy blood and banners saying ‘remember 1641′.
    I would find it vastly offensive.
    And I’m sure some of Camp Twaddell would too.
    With regards to the bully, well, it depends on the form of ‘attack’, my form of attack in this case would be to play smart and deprive SF of an annual PR bonanza.
    Do you remember the red face SF had after the SpAd bill? It didn’t last long as marching season constantly wipes the slate clean.
    The OO needs to ‘red out’ the dead weight from its culture and try to influence the culture that orbits it, such as the bonfires.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    As you say we probably agree on what we’d like to see happen. And I’m all for clamping down on the singing of sectarian songs, the Loyalist terrorist nonsense etc. Unfortunately, what motivates that in-your-face aspect of Orangeism more than anything is a sense of being unreasonably under attack. I do think think that it needs the mood music from nationalism to change before we can realistically expect the OO to be less defensive. Sorry if that means asking more of the protestors at this stage – some of whom I do sympathise with – but logically the de-escalation of tensions here can only start with them.

    It wasn’t always like this – and once again I would point to the role SF played in the early 90s in exploiting this as an issue, moving their people in to take over residents’ groups and so on. We’re now living with the consequences of that.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Well yes, there is definitely a residue left over from the 90’s, fairly or unfairly.

    It is unfortunately the default klaxon for anyone who wishes to defend the actions of the marching underbelly.

    But to highlight this aspect is to invite angry retorts “so, it’s all SF’s fault?! How convenient!!!”

    Someone has to take the plunge, SF won’t, they have nothing to lose from the likes of Twaddell and ‘fleggerism’ (as it is now known).