Today is known as the Glorious Twelfth for many in Northern Ireland, celebrating a history of civil and religious freedom. For others it an opportunity to break and head for the hills of Donegal, or other more tranquil spots.
Of the many parades that take place each year, most pass off with little comment and even some with the active approval of the local Catholic population. This from Irish Times journalist Theresa Judge on the annual parade in Rossnowlagh, Donegal a few years back:
“Alongside a stall selling goldfish, and another where soft toys could be won, a DUP stall was manned by leading party member Mr Gregory Campbell. Pictures of the Rev Ian Paisley and Princess Diana were displayed alongside unionist pamphlets and tapes of loyalist songs.
In relaxed mood, Mr Campbell said he believed that members of residents’ groups opposed to Orange parades in the North should have visited Rossnowlagh. “They could see how a village in the Republic can co-ordinate the activities of a lot of Orangemen. They complain about a huge security presence, but I have seen no more than 15 guards here today. Every year, there is never any difficulty here at all.””
The traditional bonfires on the ‘Eleventh Night’ brought some concern about loyalist paramilitaries flexing there military strength. And there is some speculation that there is to be organised resistance to the Orange parade in Ardoyne today.