“Rumours of its death are greatly exaggerated…”

It is the 11th of July, and tomorrow is not just the 12th; it’s the ‘Twelfth’. And with the Twelfth comes the annual reams of highly predictable media and social media commentary. The world will be told that the entire occasion is a sectarian hate fest. A ‘throw back’. An anachronism whose participants are nothing but unintelligent Neanderthals with a criminalist bent intent on tramping over all those that dare to disagree with them.

An Orange Sash from LOL 1595 Templemichael, County Longford

An Orange Sash from LOL 1595 Templemichael, County Longford

The truth beyond the agenda driven diatribe however is vastly different. Orangemen are normal people. They hold normal jobs and raise normal families. They are decent, ordinary and hard working. They are Orangemen because their fathers and grandfathers were before them. They are Orangemen because it means something to them. It is not JUST about some battle hundreds of years ago. It is about community, and heritage and identity.

When looking in at tomorrow’s events from the outside there are a few statistics that should be remembered. Today in Northern Ireland the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland can boast of a membership of some 35,000 men. That doesn’t include the members of the junior and female branches of the Order, or indeed the majority of members of the hundreds of bands who will join them on parade tomorrow.

In excess of 12% of all those eligible in Northern Ireland are members of the Orange. In some rural areas such as Markethill in County Armagh and the Mournes’ it rises into the high 30’s! This is not some extremist sub-culture- this is a massive part of our society.

The headline for July 2016 Northern Ireland is not the decline or failings of the Orange Institution. The headline is that against tremendous odds, against unending attack, and against the pattern of similar movements across the world; the Orange Institution not just survives, it is thriving!!!

For tens of thousands the Orange is a very relevant and living part of their lives.

Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter- get to a venue tomorrow and enjoy the colour and music and atmosphere. Don’t search for something that isn’t there.

 

  • runepig

    “In excess of 12% of all those eligible in Northern Ireland are members of the Orange.”

    So 88% of Protestant, white, straight men in Northern Ireland have chosen to reject membership of an organisation that was founded to discriminate against their non-Protestant, white, straight, male neighbours? Sounds like a pretty resounding majority in favour of modernity and inclusivity to me. Hopefully won’t take too long until the rest catch up (would imagine the end of the Union in the next couple of years will help things along).

  • cu chulainn

    You aren’t quite fair, black people can join the Orange order too, it is only prejudiced on the grounds of religion, nationality and sexual orientation, not race.

  • cu chulainn

    The Twelfth is about a battle, in a war against other people in this country. Many of its members are otherwise decent and prefer to ignore the elephant in the room, but that doesn’t change the nature of events at this time of year.

  • lizmcneill

    Then you can save your energy for cleaning up all the discarded flegs, Bucky bottles and pools of vomit, and fixing all the infrastructure that got set on fire on the 11th.

  • Redstar

    Each to their own.

    Standing drunk /drugged up around a pile of burning mattresses burning anything you can get connected to Catholics or immigrants and then next morning staggering off to a KKKesque rally stopping off only to urinate against a chapel just isn’t my thing.

  • Thomas Barber

    There is no doubt the Orange order plays a significant part in the moral education of young protestant children and there is also no doubting that the overwhelming majority of members of the loyal orders are genuine upright god fearing lawabiding Christian people who would go out of their way to treat or help those in need no matter their colour or their religion, however the same cannot be said for many of the members of some lodges especially Belfast. All are thus tarnished with the one brush when it comes to the general perception of the Orange order regarding its behaviour and attitudes to others who do not share either their religion or belief that they can march wherever they like whenever they like.

  • chrisjones2

    “They hold normal jobs and raise normal families. They are decent, ordinary and hard working.”

    Yes but some are also drunken sectarian bigots

    “They are Orangemen because their fathers and grandfathers were before them. ”

    Yes but two generations ago, for example, it was widely accepted that a man had a right to beat his wife. Racism was widespread. We have developed and moved on since then so a simple reliance on what grand pappy did isn’t really enough

    “They are Orangemen because it means something to them”

    You mention heritage and identity but what does that mean …those are just words. What are the underpinning beliefs?

    “In excess of 12% of all those eligible in Northern Ireland are members of the Orange”

    Really? Only if you exclude all the ones who dont have a penis perhaps but of course the order does – its a men only fraternity …which again is the heritage of its forefathers

  • chrisjones2

    You forgot sex. Weemin are allowed in but only when corralled in special weemins lodges lest they inflame the men’s passions and anyway they should be home cooking the dinner

  • Redstar

    Quite some morals to hate your neighbour. I knew quite a few of them and not a single one went to church.

  • aor26

    It’s not Republican s ‘telling the world it’s a hate fest’ but rather loyalists & unionists who do this. I’ve already seen dozens of photographs/video footage of sectarian/racist slogans adorning bonfires.

    As far it being an occasion celebrated by uneducated Neanderthal s? Well what else would you call people who burn hundreds of car tyres & then call it ‘culture’??

    The problem is that the number of unionists in leadership positions calling out the bad behaviour are few and far between. There is clearly a state of denial in the author of this piece.

    Ultimately, the Orange Order’s inability to accept legitimate criticism will contribute to its demise in the long term as so much of the behaviour over this holiday period would not be tolerated in a ‘normal’ ‘civilised’ society.

  • Thomas Barber

    I dont doubt you Redstar but that cant be said for all them.

  • Redstar

    Fair point Thomas I did indeed wrongly generalise.- something admittedly I would be quick to highlight in others

  • submariner

    The phrase trying to polish a turd immediately springs to mind.

  • runepig

    Touché. Actually I’d be curious to see to know if the Orange Order had any non-White members in NI, especially in relation to the proportion of the BAME population.

    My guesses would be zero and zero respectively, though I’m sure the Order would be delighted to proved detailed demographic data.

    *cough*

  • grumpy oul man

    Really what are these tremendous odds and unending attacks, this is nothing more than the siege mentality.
    The OO has no one but blame for it woes but the OO, Drumcree was a total failure and a ongoing embarrassment in which the OO defied the law, made common cause with the Loyalists and and generally brought mayhem to the streets.
    Failing to learn anything from this it repeated the whole thing at Twaddle with the same result.
    It portrays itself as a Christian group and tries to portray its parades as Just Christian men going to Church but the whole world see,s the Bands with paramilitary trappings and the disrespect it shows to other faiths.
    Around the twelfth we see the hatred coming out as displayed at many bonfires, The OO members may not build these things but i have yet to hear the OO distance itself from these displays or indeed tell its members that this sort of thing is unchristian,

    So if i go to a event tomorrow would i fell safe knowing that the night before some of the people also attending that event were dancing around a bonfire that had symbols of my culture or religion on it or indeed if i was a migrant might they have been at one which called me names and told me to go home.
    No doubt someone will say, The OO has nothing to do with the Bonfires, but members of the OO jump to the defense of the Bony builders and the same people who dance and cheer when the Statue or Poster burns will be wearing sashs and walking tomorrow.

  • Simon Salter

    Moral education of young children? Please expand on this? Surely telling the children they are not allowed to marry or even attend a marriage in a catholic place of worship has a detrimental effect?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Perhaps the most interesting thing is that they dissenters who supported the Dutchman were also waring against their own self interest. I quote from the publicity for Scott Sowerby’s “Making Toleration”:

    In the reign of James II, minority groups from across the religious spectrum, led by the Quaker William Penn, rallied together under the Catholic King James in an effort to bring religious toleration to England. Known as repealers, these reformers aimed to convince Parliament to repeal laws that penalized worshippers who failed to conform to the doctrines of the Church of England…………By restoring the repealer movement to its rightful prominence, Making Toleration also overturns traditional interpretations of King James II’s reign and the origins of the Glorious Revolution. Though often depicted as a despot who sought to impose his own Catholic faith on a Protestant people, James is revealed as a man ahead of his time, a king who pressed for religious toleration at the expense of his throne. The Glorious Revolution, Sowerby finds, was not primarily a crisis provoked by political repression. It was, in fact, a conservative counter-revolution against the movement for enlightened reform that James himself encouraged and sustained.”

    http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674073098

    It would be a full century and more before the dissenters who had fought for the Dutchman would again find the toleration they had momentarily experienced under James even being discussed again. What is being commemorated tomorrow is one of the most profound miscalculations the Northern Protestants ever made!!!!!!!!

  • Thomas Barber

    Theres a lot of stuff I have no time for and religion is one of them Simon they all have rules which believers are encouraged to follow some of them do and some of them dont the same goes Im sure for members of the Orange order.

  • Simon Salter

    Again, how is an organisation that tells children they cannot attend a friend/family members wedding due to their faith have a positive impact?

  • Jollyraj

    A well-written, and fairly argued piece.

  • Zig70

    All this decline means I only get 1 day off now. 🙁

  • grumpy oul man

    a little bit of self back slapping, managed to leave out the many little issues that are plaguing the OO,

    Do you think they will have managed to get themselves out of the mess they have made at Twaddle by next year.

  • grumpy oul man

    But you see the fact that it has such rules in the first place and that it attempts to pass on this institutional hatred to Children, this is the problem,the fact that some in the order might not believe completely in the hate teach is not relevant.

  • Colm Heaney

    Not the same thing I know, but just as an interesting aside I believe there are Orange lodges in Africa:

    Orange Order on the equator: Keeping the faith in Ghana – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-34088527

  • grumpy oul man

    but surely in a Christian organization you would expect to meet Church going Christians.
    How can a group that claims it is a god fearing bunch defined by their Christian faith have so many members who are obviously not Christian and have never any intention of becoming Christians among it numbers.
    It would be more honest if the OO stopped claiming it was Christian and admit that its is merely anti catholic.

  • Thomas Barber

    I know plenty of people that eat the alter rails yet they are far from christian when they walk out the chapel doors.

  • grumpy oul man

    And your point is!
    that sounds very like whataboutry. Please continue your comparison with a political, sectarian marching group and the alter rail eaters i would love to know the last time they brought mobs onto the streets for the right to walk to the alter.

  • Jollyraj

    “Some of our antecedents were slavers. We don’t have to follow the mistakes of our progenitors. Just because it is old, doesn’t necessarily make it beautiful.”

    Could make the same argument about Irish Republicans, a fair few of whom these days no longer even remember why they hate Protestants.

  • csb

    The Order itself had to launch the “It’s About the Battle, not the Bottle” campaign this year so you don’t even have to be on the outside to be aware that there are some serious problems associated with the Twelfth.

  • Msiegnaro

    I don’t have any issues in getting people to join the Orange and even in your native Fermanagh..

  • Sherdy

    Nobody decent, ordinary or normal would behave with as much hatred and bigotry towards their neighbours as Orangemen do!

  • Msiegnaro

    Bonfires are nothing to do with the Orange.

  • Reader

    You’re making it sound like St Patrick’s day, only with warmer weather.

  • Msiegnaro

    There are homosexuals in the Orange, please try to get the basics right before you attempt to criticise.

  • Msiegnaro

    Yes there are a number of non white members in NI and outside of NI there are lodges that don’t even have white members in them.

  • Msiegnaro

    This is a “Loyalist” pastime that has been discouraged by the OI.

  • Msiegnaro

    A silly post by you Chris and as you know there is a female Orange institution.

  • Msiegnaro

    Simon, some of your friends are in the Orange – do you have issues with them as well??

  • Msiegnaro

    Yawn.

  • Msiegnaro

    You certainly would, your posts have been a disgrace.

  • Simon Salter

    Deflecting from the question? Surely the OO is sending out the wrong message to today’s society by having a ban on attending weddings etc in catholic places of worship.

  • cu chulainn

    Perhaps this inspired the brilliance of the DUP Brexit strategy!

  • cu chulainn

    If they can’t remember, the events of tonight and tomorrow will remind them.

  • cu chulainn

    Name them!

  • mac tire

    Actually, for once I agree with Msiegnaro here. I know of at least one gay person in the OO.

  • AntrimGael

    I did what you said. About 5 years we had relatives home from Australia and they wanted to go into Belfast on the morning of the12th ‘to see what it was all about’ so guardedly we went and took up position on Bedford Street. Unsurprisingly it lived up to all the stereotypes. The place was awash with alcohol, crates of beer stacked up on top of each other with bottles of vodka and whiskey being passed between onlookers. Wee girls of about 14/15 were falling all over the place drunk and fighting with each other as the cops looked on. There were grown men urinating openly in doorways while UVF and UDA tattoos seemed to be compulsory for male and female alike as were closely cropped bleached blonde highlights and Orange spray tans. Kids were wearing ‘Proud to be a Prod’ T-Shirts, Rangers/Linfield, Norn Iron tops AND Holland football gear had done a roaring trade too. Many of the bands were quite openly and proudly displaying their Loyalist paramilitary allegiances while the bandsmen shouted ‘Up The UDA/UFF/UVF’ in between drum beats. Being 20 stone+, baldy and covered in tattoos also appeared to be the qualifying condition to carry the Lambegs.
    It was quite funny in a way watching our relatives shocked faces; we stayed about half an hour and dandered the other way. We then got talking to a Swedish couple who also had seen enough. Their words were along the lines of ‘intimidating, frightening, militaristic and vulgar’. While I would concede that many rural people still see the Orange Order as a religious organisation for many Nationalists the Orange Order, in Belfast especially, is seen as part of Loyalism and a quasi paramilitary outfit. Who can forget the famous photo from a few years back which the Sunday World published. It showed the entire Belfast leadership of the UVF standing on the balcony of Clifton Street Orange Hall as a Republican parade made it’s way to Clifton St Graveyard, Now who gave them the keys?

  • Msiegnaro

    I didn’t realise this was an “outer” session, however they’re there- better luck next time wee man.

  • ted hagan

    Needless to say it is a sectarian organisation that won’t accept Protestants who are married to Catholics and has links to loyalist paramilitary organisations.. Thankfully many Protestants disown it, including myself. There are many decent Orangemen. I will accept that much.

  • ted hagan

    That make sandwiches for their menfolk;

  • Jag

    A happy, peaceful, dignified and safe 12th to our Protestant neighbours.

    There’ll be a small minority who bring shame and disgrace to today’s marches. Let’s hope the greater majority will bring peer pressure to bear and stamp out the unwanted behaviour.

    And remember, it’s 2016. Camera phones and social media are ubiquitous, so every breath you take and every move you make, every bond you break, every step you take, I’ll be watching you (on Facebook, Instagram etc).

  • grumpy oul man

    I think Danny Kinahan has proved that Catholics and nationalists should stay well away from these events.
    A Orangeman posts a Picture of him in front of a Bonfire with a tricolor on it.
    Amazingly he apologizes, saying he meant to show a family friendly bonfire and should have had the flag removed first, So perhaps he should have found a family friendly bonfire if such a thing exists.
    Now why would i want to go to a celebration that found people like that acceptable.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    In my own historical writings I use the term “a ‘signature’ action” to suggest an habitual pattern of behaviour which comes up again and again in a communities behaviour…………

  • SeaanUiNeill

    LOI lodges in Ghana, Togo, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA. Over the narrow seas in Scotland and even in England. I’ve seen a photo of the members of Mohawk Lodge No. 99 (Canada) in traditional native American dress, complete with feathered war bonnets. The lodges in Africa were established as white lodges in the early 1900s but became moribund at the time of WWII. They were revitalised locally with all black lodges, Ghana from 1963 and Togo from 1983, as I understand it. They are all very much tied in with Evangelical movements locally.

  • SeaanUiNeill
  • MainlandUlsterman

    The Twelfth is an easy target, in part because it is unsophisticated and is not dressed up (much) in the verbiage and attitudes of the liberal, educated upper middle class. For all the community solidarity around it, the truth is there is a massive fissure within Protestants between the middle class world I grew up in and the world of Orangeism. Growing up, anything Orange, to the extent it was within our awareness at all (which was minimal), was disapproved of in my household. But I came to see in my teens, going along to a few parades and bonfires out of curiosity, that it wasn’t as bad or as scary as all that. Much of my family’s disapproval was really middle class cringe; and it seemed odd to me that in the pluralist country I love where I was learning about and embracing all the disparate cultural traditions that I welcome as part of the tapestry of British life, that this one should be singled out for utter rejection. It’s not for everyone, sure – but it’s not meant to be, any more than Eid is, or a Stoke City supporters’ club meeting, or the Eisteddfod, or any other culturally specific event.

    The OO is not my favourite organisation. But Quincey makes a fair point that the vast majority of Twelfth events are basically fairly harmless, if raucous, community events. Protestant parading is a symptom of the ethnic tension we have on the island, which it seems to me is our lot – both communities have played into the situation in which shows of pan-Protestant solidarity have over the decades been needed. The need for cultural assertion is not something we can simply ascribe to Protestants alone, as if they operate in a vacuum, nor is it something only Protestants do. The thing is to try and keep the day as positive as possible, celebrating Ulster Protestant life without doing anyone else down.

    That doesn’t always happen. But on the whole it seems to me a relatively benign way (for Northern Ireland!) for a section of Ulster Protestants, mainly from less affluent parts of society, to show each other once a year they’re still alive and well and not going anywhere. This is a group of people who have, whatever you think of them, suffered more than their fair share of violence, loss and grief; and also, attacks on their identity and culture. Allow them once a year a bit of group solidarity and re-affirmation.

    Where some revellers descend into violence or abuse, by all means throw the book at those people. But don’t punish or attack the vastly larger numbers of people who enjoy the parades in a positive way, either watching or taking part.

  • Enda

    Most Republicans who I’ve met don’t hate Protestants, just the six counties being in the union.

  • Enda

    I’m sure there are many homosexuals in the OO, there are homosexuals in all walks of life – homosexuality is pretty common. I’m not sure if gay members in the OO would be very vocal about it though.

  • Enda

    Biased at all? It was one sided drivel. I’m sure some of the more decent folk in the orange camp dream of such ideological romanticism, but to completely glare over the abundance of negative aspects that are associated with this yearly fiasco really goes to show how much of the Unionist/Loyalist camp do live in Narnia.

    I wonder if the folk in the Shankill, who got their houses burnt out by bonfire debris, will be as welcoming of the same bonfire next year.

    Brainless, brainless, brainless.

  • citizen69

    As a working-class unionist from North Belfast it is not the Twelfth that bothers me so much as the 11th night. I have said it before, the burning of Irish flags and/or election posters is a disgrace and completely indefensible. It has nothing to do with the history or original purpose of the bonfires.

    The bad publicity it brings onto loyalist communities is the fault of these flag erectors themselves and not some anti-loyalist conspiracy. Any loyalist who is genuinely interested in culture needs to insure this activity is stopped by self-policing. Not only does it alienate other communities, but also more moderate people within your own community. I’m glad to see the family orientated beacons and the growing number of flag free smaller bonfires but the change needs to happen much quicker. I used to enjoy the 11th & 12th when i was younger. Now it’s just another day off work with nothing to do.

  • cu chulainn

    Do they burn other people’s property at the Eisteddfod? Comparing the Twelfth with this type of positive event is inappropriate.

  • chrisjones2

    Yes..a separate on where they dont mix with the men

  • Jollyraj

    Well, you certainly seem to be hoping for that.

  • cu chulainn

    Never fall into the trap of believing NI to normal or acceptable.

  • Msiegnaro

    Well one’s a Worshipful Master.

  • Zig70

    I could be unfair and use your language to say ‘On the whole’ most IRA members didn’t kill anyone, hardly makes them ‘relatively benign’. Also, the use of Quincey’s term ‘eligible’ is a fascinating one that nationalists would read the negative as ‘actively excluded and suppressed’. The dismissal of the excesses isn’t going to get them brushed under the carpet but I always enjoy the use of language to that effect. In this day of social media the OO can’t distance themselves from the bonfire meme’s, the paramilitary flags on lampposts they march under, sectarian songs. If they really want to achieve, if not respect but even tolerance by their neighbours then they have to visibly work to reduce it if not eliminate it. They should own the celebration.
    This whole thing about it being a working class celebration and the denigrators are not taking that into account, correct me if I’m wrong but that wasn’t always the case? I thought the OO used to be those with social standing.

  • Jollyraj

    If it’s not acceptable I’m sure you could go and live elsewhere.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    the comparison was limited to the issue of inclusion

  • MainlandUlsterman

    not sure about the ‘links to loyalist paramilitary organisations’ claim but otherwise I totally agree

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “Really what are these tremendous odds and unending attacks, this is nothing more than the siege mentality.”
    Take a look up and down this thread.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    but happy to sign off on our summary executions by the IRA, it would seem …

  • MainlandUlsterman

    we have an ethnic divide, that is reality we live in. The OO, like all other ethnically-specific organisations, is a manifestation of that. How we bridge that divide depends on how much tolerance and respect we are willing to show for people on the other side. The OO in some ways makes that task of bridge-building more difficult; but be careful just piling the vitriol on them, or on working class Protestants more generally. Pretending they all love the paramilitaries, or are some kind of KKK, is just silly and wrong (just look how paramilitaries do when they stand for election even in hardcore Loyalist areas; compare that to how known IRA terrorists have fared and then come back and criticise from a nationalist standpoint).

    The attitude to the Twelfth I see from many commentators on here is understandable, as there is much to reject about it; but that attitude, among nationalist commentators at least, also seems to me to be another example of the less laudable habit of running away from the real challenges of reconciliation. If you want a healthy tolerant N Ireland, or Ireland, in the future, nearly every nationalist politician concedes the OO has to have a place in that. Condemning it wholesale every Twelfth jars with that liberal, tolerant view.

    Better surely to work with the positive aspects of Orangeism and be very careful not to come across as dismissing the entire culture as irretrievably f***ed. Especially in a place in which Protestants are expected to accept former Republican paramilitaries in leadership roles in public life. Working class Protestants are also expected to show respect for the large portion of the population who vote for unrepentant anti-British terrorists. Yet it seems these annual transgressions of Protestants evince howls of outrage not heard over the nationalist attachment to the Provos.

    There does seem to be a glaring double standard here. If we’re serious about clamping down on acts of ethnic self-assertion and negative comments about the other lot, can those people who are so offended by the Twelfth apply the same standards to both communities? And perhaps ask a few more questions about glorification of sectarian terror through murals, speeches, ceremonies and political parties on the nationalist side too? Because unless you apply this across the board, these criticisms won’t persuade and won’t bring about the changes in both Loyalist and Republican culture that most of us in the liberal centre want to see.

  • Msiegnaro

    I’ve no wish to engage with you Simon as you’re simply a bitter ex Protestant.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    your views are a matter of record Ciaran, thanks 🙂

  • Simon Salter

    My faith is not connected to the question, why was this brought up? Although resorting to personal insults and not answering the question leads me to believe you cannot find anything to justify this rule within the OO.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    While not by any stretch a Republican myself, I’d be reluctant to simplify things by identifying all Republicanism with violent Republicanism, MU.

    What’s the value of your advocating differentiation and tolerance of the complexity of working class PUL “culture”: “be careful just piling the vitriol on them, or on working class Protestants more generally. Pretending they all love the paramilitaries, or are some kind of KKK, is just silly and wrong” and a moment later damning every person who questions the Wee Six to perdition as inevitably the supporters of murder and mayhem? A little more consistency please!

  • grumpy oul man

    so pointing out that if the OO stopped its unsavory practices and unsavory connections then perhaps decent people will stop having a go at them!
    A classic example of the connections i refer too is yesterday at Twaddle the person who handed the Police a letter of protest on behalf of the OO, was no other than Gerald Solinas of the UPRG.
    The UPRG is, in case you are unaware is the political front of a active criminal gang called the UDA.
    So please less of the mopery when the OO behaves like responsible members of society then they will be treated like responsible members of society.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    just judging behaviour, Seaan, rather than assumptions about it. And I’m by no means waving away all criticism of behaviour around the Twelfth, I agree with many of those criticisms myself, having had our front garden p***ed in by bandsmen and witnessed many a sectarian song. I don;t like that stuff. But keep the criticism to the stuff that is wrong and don’t generalise it to others who aren’t doing anything wrong and want to enjoy the day, is all I’m saying.

    The SF vote is shockingly high, though everyone knows their very close association with PIRA and continued advocacy of its actions. I know many SF voters don’t in reality support what the IRA did, but they do vote for it and have to take responsibility for that. All I ask is that people are judged for their actual actions. Protestants who go out and actively support Protestant paramilitaries whether in elections or through cheering the “Ulster First Flute” band are equally appalling in my view. I was just pointing out that one shouldn’t assume most people involved in Twelfth celebrations do support paramilitarism, or are somehow akin to members of the Klan. And I wanted to call out Enda’s frankly Pollyanna-ish proclamation, all too frequent from nationalist commenters, of the utter non-sectarian nature of Irish Republicanism, which is obviously a complete joke.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    you’ve correctly pointed out something that happened that was wrong, I have no problem with that and indeed agree with your criticism. I’m just saying, don’t apply it to everyone involved in Twelfth celebrations. Most people are not Gerald Solinas.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    No, MU, I realise that you are being nuanced about the Twelfth, I’ve read your postings above with some interest. Hey, I put the egg between my teeth and start sucking, eh? Really, as you well know I’ve often critiqued ion Slugger not only lazy support for SF despite the violence issue, but also similar support for other parties, including the old Unionist consensus and the very State itself, issues on which you’ve differed from me in suggesting that violence is occasionally acceptable (or at least should be ignored) if it achieves a desirable end (in this case the state notionally protecting its citizens). If you remember we differed just recently on the culpability of the early Unionist State and its implication through men in uniform acting as its agents involving themselves with sectarian murder and attacks on the British Army attempting to keep order.

    I’d also differ from you in equating the tacit blind eye to Republican violence that voting for SF implies, and the blind eye to implied violence that attending a bonfire where communities are burnt in effigy through proxy flags as coming from quite similar mindsets. Both involve people ignoring the final consequences of their actions, having a selective morality (“I’m only supporting this so far”).

    But I’d still feel that your lumping all Republicanism automatically into the violence camp is not dissimilar to what you are condemning in your earlier comment regarding the Bonfire attendees. It’s always something of a hostage to fortune to make broad generalising statements that lump whole groups of quite dissimilar people together. Are you so very, very certain that the generous inclusivist legacy of Wolfe Tone and the United Men is entirely absent from every Republican one meets in the North? Perhaps it’s just that in history circles I perhaps run into more self-proclaimed Republicans who are profoundly critical of the pointlessness of the violence, and cannot simply dismiss all Republicanism as utterly tainted. Enough people anyway to suggest to me that Enda may not simply be making a disingenuous propaganda point in the manner your response suggests.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    (I’d truly love to rant about this in detail but no computer access makes Jack a dull boy)

    Very briefly Quincey, when people criticise the OI & 12th they tend to mean Belfast yet you and many others answer as if they were talking about Rossnowlagh.

    If the Belfast lodges behaved like those of the Rossnowlagh 12th then you wouldn’t have to post rebuttals like this.

    When your only defence of a topic is the switching of the topic then perhaps it’s better to just admit the argument is lost?

    We all know (most of us anyway, there will always be those who blindly hate and there’s little to be gained in discussion with them) these family, heritage, cultural and community points that you speak of, no one is denying that.
    Those aren’t in question.

    What is in question is the inability of Orangemen and politicians to say “you know what, we have a problem in the Belfast 12th, how do we make it better?”.

    Just do that, encourage others to do that and start working on it.

    Rossnowlagh and numerous other places already have it right;
    more bible less booze for starters.

    Also, like some of the others on here i’ve taken people from outside the tradition to a 12th and they enjoyed very much the respect and importance of the senior members who were ferried by car.

    The 12th I took them to was relatively free of drunks, violence and paramilitary trappings, i do not believe they would have enjoyed the Belfast one. Does it make sense yet?

    (Note: a whataboutery regarding the GAA or st pats will only serve to prove my point regarding the inability to admit the obvious and seeing that i’ve never been to a GAA game nor St Patrick’s day parade it would also be kinda stupid…)

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    MU

    I think the disconnect is more between the Belfast 12th and the rural ones.

    My local 12th (as a teenager anyway ) had a decent number of ‘middle class’ people partaking in it e.g. teachers

    But in rural areas what’s the difference between a working class man who lives comfortably in a bungalow e.g. farmer, coalman, plumber, electrician, mechanic and a middle class man who lives comfortably in a bungalow?

  • grumpy oul man

    But he is a member of the OO, and he represents a lodge.
    It is fair to ask how he even got into a “Christian “organization.
    And it fair to assume that he is not the only dodgy type in the OO , Surly everyone involved in the twelfth celebration (or most anyway) know of the existence of these people.
    Now the original point of the post was that the OO are just ordinary people and the twelfth is just good fun and even suggested to go along for the craic.
    He thinks that those who hate Nationalist and Catholics so much they publicly burn there symbols and cheer will be there.
    some of those wearing sash’s are sectarian criminals belonging to groups who have reveled in the murder of Taigs.
    others have pointed out that such company would be very unsuitable and worrying to any nationalist or catholic who had the wit to know where they were.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Citizen, great post.
    Any ideas how we can encourage people to do so?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Do you have any criticisms of the Belfast 12th?

  • Msiegnaro

    Not so sure on that.

  • Msiegnaro

    Yes and of the bonfires, they are nothing to do with the Orange but we must provide more leadership on the issue.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I appreciate the no-nonsense honest answer, thank you.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    you get any large gathering of people in NI and there will be sectarian criminals in there. I’m not sure we ban the event because of it. If we did, we’ve have to shutting down some GAA clubs and so on. We don’t want to go down that route, I don’t think.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Yes, my experience is almost exclusively in Greater Belfast, where the class divide on these things is perhaps the starkest. I’m sure you’re right on the more close-knit nature of rural communities.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I guess it boils down to the semantic question of what ‘Republican’ means. I accept it can mean, especially in the Irish Republic, someone who rejects the physical force brand of nationalism. But it in N Ireland it was come to be used as the term to differentiate someone supporting physical force nationalism (as represented by the SF-IRA nexus), versus ‘nationalist’ as someone who agrees with the ends but not the means (SDLP). I was using it in that sense – and that SF form of Republicanism is indeed utterly tainted. What many would call nationalism, the SDLP approach, is not quite so tainted.

    I disagree quite strongly with this though:
    “I’d also differ from you in equating the tacit blind eye to Republican violence that voting for SF implies, and the blind eye to implied violence that attending a bonfire where communities are burnt in effigy through proxy flags as coming from quite similar mindsets.”
    I don’t think you can equate choosing to vote for the IRA’s political wing with attending a bonfire in which a tricolour is burnt. The person attending the bonfire – and socially I’ve been to just such a bonfire, when I had a friend living in Rathcoole – may completely reject paramilitarism and may not approve of the flag being burnt. You attend a bonfire because it’s a big event in the area, you don’t necessarily sign up to everything about the bonfire. Voting for SF though, given that everyone knows who SF are and what the IRA did, is a deliberate choice that you support those people over other candidates. It is a political act, showing a tolerance of paramilitarism, in a way that attending an 11th Night bonfire isn’t. But I agree that burning tricolours these days, especially now the Republic has largely dropped its aggressive territorial claims over N Ireland, and the IRA is all but a dead duck, isn’t something we should really tolerate any more. It was never a great idea.

  • grumpy oul man

    But i think you miss my point, he did not just happen to be in a crowd moving stealthily without notice.
    He was the man who went up to the police with the letter of protest. so a bit different from a face in the crowd.
    I wonder, how did that man get into a position of authority in the OO, the Grand master (or whatever his title) of the OO has no problem sharing a platform with the man, surely George knows who he is, what he does.
    Sorry good try at trivializing the fact that a spokesman for a terrorist group is also a prominent Orangeman but no cigar.

    your whataboutry regarding the GAA is predictable, are you going for a “two wrongs make a right” ruling here.

  • grumpy oul man

    but you miss my point, he was a central figure, presented the letter of protest to police, I wonder what they thought of that.
    He was not just a face in the crowd he was put forward as spokesman to the press.
    This is not a case off, what can you do they turn even if not wanted, he was one of the organizers. the Grand master has shared a platform with him and i am sure George knows who and what he is .
    I never even suggested i wanted the event banned, i want it cleaned up and the involvement of those linked to terrorism removed from any part of it.
    That was a interesting bit of whataboutry about the GAA, are you going for a “Two wrongs make a right ruling” ?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    One person’s whataboutery is another person’s seeking consistency. Just a response to “some of those wearing sash’s (sic) are sectarian criminals belonging to groups who have reveled in the murder of Taigs (sic).” That’s a true statement but I was pointing out you could also say that of other things that shouldn’t necessarily attract condemnation, such as a GAA match that is attended by say, a former IRA man. In legal argument it’s a recognised good thing, the ‘reductio ad absurdum’ argument.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Different mileaus, seemingly, MU, the circles I mix in Here and in the South do not use “Republican” so reductively, and I can see its the issue of the Inuit’s thirty words for snow perhaps. However “What many would call nationalism, the SDLP approach, is not quite so tainted.” Did you really say “tainted”?

    I think the reason we must disagree on this issue of culpability, MU, is that in differentiating between a person who votes SF and a person who supports tacit aggression on the other side by attending a bonfire where quite evident statements of an abusive political stance are evident (“you begin by burning things and end by burning people”), you appear to me here to be simply indulging one portion of the community at the expense of the other, just as you were doing, I felt, in dismissing as “negligible” the violence of the Special Constabulary in 1922 in one of our earlier discussions.

    “You attend a bonfire because it’s a big event in the area, you don’t necessarily sign up to everything about the bonfire.” And if you asked the average SF voter why they vote as they do, you’d get much the same level of “I don’t support everything that has been done, but I support some of the policies….”

    Suggesting that the person who watches flags and symbols burnt but disagrees is somehow less culpable simply does not stand up. It’s the same argument, were the offensiveness of an action is qualified in the person’s conscience by the expediency of pick and mix. You really cannot have it both ways, with only one side of the argument being entirely in the wrong, once this special pleading for the inoffensiveness of a person’s behaviour when qualified by personal private reservations has been deployed. In the real world such alignments may mean something rather more moderate to an individual but each vote, each alignment with a commemoration which contains the seeds of aggression contributes to the polarisation of our community.

    Look, I do not in any way question your evident sincerity in affirming this as you do, but unless a reasonable and analytic intelligence such as yourself can even begin to attempt to see this kind of thing empathically from both sides, what hope for those who are led to think that burning the symbols of the “other” is somehow entirely acceptable because intelligent people seem to think their bonfires are OK, are “culture”?

  • MainlandUlsterman

    “tainted” was your word I think …

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Used with some irony in my comment, MU, but I would certainly never use it as you do above in regard to a perfectly constitutional party with quite reasonable political goals in most people’s opinion! it’s the “quite so” that caught my attention suggesting that the SDLP are somehow just a little less “tainted” than those who supported violence!!!! But I suppose if a mindset rests on the premiss that anyone whatsoever with nationalist aspirations must be considered as unacceptable just as they were under the old Unionist hegemony…………

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Thing 1: a person watches a bonfire for an hour, without a particular view on it, but broadly supporting the 11th night bonfire tradition. Feels uncomfortable at burning of tricolour but says nothing. Wanders off.
    Thing 2: a person goes into a voting booth, votes for the SF candidate, didn’t support the IRA as such and voted for SF on the basis of its record since the end of the Troubles. Wanders off.

    Thing 1, I’d score 2 out of 10 for level of sectarianism and 1 out of 10 for negative lasting impact of the action.
    Thing 2, I’d score 5 of out 10 for sectarianism and 9 out of 10 for negative lasting impact of the action.

    Why is Thing 2 more sectarian?
    The person is voting for a party that supported and still supports a past terror campaign against the other community. Even if the person doesn’t agree with that, choosing to ignore it doesn’t get you off moral responsibility for supporting that party. I’ve been generous in only giving that a 5 – it’s because I’m accepting this person may not themselves mean to be sectarian. But they have done something that will be seen by the other community and taken as a sectarian signal.
    In Thing 1, the person has also done something that may be taken by the other community as a sectarian signal. But compared to voting, where the results are published and seen widely, attending a bonfire in a Protestant area may well not be seen by anyone who would be offended by it. But I give it 2/10 because someone could be offended, I guess. And the person could have voiced more of an objection to the flag burning.

    Why is Thing 2 much worse for negative lasting impact?
    The vote puts a representative of that terrorist-linked party into a position of public responsibility for up to five years. The toxic views of that organisation become a fixture of public life for that period. Other representatives have to deal with the terror apologist across a range of issues, causing them bitterness and distress and creating a poisonous atmosphere in the public space. It revives trauma for the terror group’s victims; the party’s advocacy of Troubles violence makes it impossible for many people to move on emotionally from suffering at the hands of that terror group.
    Thing 1 – well, there is little lasting impact. The bonfire is a fleeting thing and the person’s attendance at it even more so. It is resented by some as a sectarian thing but few have to actually experience it except as a passing tv image for a day or two. There is an impact, but it’s just not comparable to our thoughtless voter in Thing 1.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    You are continuing to be being reductive, having yourself first framed the polarity of support for SF and attendance at bonfires. But really, is this attendance at Bonfires the only thing that the people you speak of do? Personally, I’d score this quite differently because these Bonfires are not simply fires but are in themselves a physical comment on the domination of a landscape by the Loyalist part of the PUL grouping. Locals complain about the dangers of gigantism, where houses are threatened, even destroyed. Is it perhaps too much to be a little more empathic here and to imagine this physical threat also “flags” another more general threat to the entire community where there is there not some element of “look how our still existent paramilitaries can contemptuously override local concerns and threaten even those in their own community, well, such tough guys can certainly deal with themuns too”?

    You cannot separate the massive bonfires from the paramilitary culture that they in a very practical sense represent nowadays. as you are doing here. The small community beacons are something else, I’d agree, but the gigantic bonfires are an annual power display by the “we haven’t gone away ye know” Paras in localities, and everyone knows this who attends. Every attendee is part of a headcount of their support, a vote for their continuing existence. Far from there being “little impact” from bonfires, it is one of those things that holds together the sectarian paramilitary “culture”, and as such is perhaps could be viewed as even more culpable for an individual than voting for a party with, agreed, a violent past that is now accepted by the world as an engaged player in the Belfast Agreement (a similar reductive and calculated description of SF to what you’ve been attempting in describing the bonfires as, well, simply fires at big social events with the odd flag put on by a “bad boy”).

    Personally, I’ve often stated that I feel that both Nationalism and Unionism have to re-invent themselves completely in relation to a very different outside world if either are to survive in any form. For the record, I do not feel that links to parties that have supported violence can ever be helpful for this much needed revitalisation, but unlike you I’d include the origins of both the UUP and the DUP alongside SF in this assessment. I do not see how selectively organising the facts to create an argument in support of either team does more than compound the problem. This is real life, not sport.

  • Msiegnaro

    Poots is right that the IN struggle to say anything good about Unionists.