Inevitability of summer troubles?

Briege Gadd notes that although community relations in Northern Ireland seem to be improving across Northern Irish society, the summer every year is tough for a number of communities. She suggests the best response from Catholic communities to contentious Orange parades, should be blythe indifference.

  • Dessertspoon

    Couldn’t agree more. I have no issues with those who want to celebrate in the OO and have a wee march about…in fact I’m thankful for the day or two off work in the middle of the summer. I don’t like the parades or the bands so I stay away and let them get on with it. I don’t see any need to throw bottles at them or the poor police that stand around in all the gear looking bored. What is that phrase about the oxygen of publicity?

  • fair_deal

    “The fact is that the most disappointing thing that could happen to the Orangemen and their supporters is to find that their march through other people’s territory is greeted with blithe indifference – boredom even.”

    I wouldn’t be disappointed. Simply content I can express my culture and not get assaulted for it.

  • joe

    I would like to challenge this view of “culture” that the Orange Order,fair_deal and indeed the local media like to put forward. The fundamental foundations of the Orange Order are sectarianism and triumphalism and to somehow promote this as culture beggars belief. Another point worth noting is that the OO claim to be a “Christian” organisation. Are antagonism and the threat of violence should they not get their desired route the acts of a true Christain? Briege Gadd also raises the issue that racism has become more of a worry for our communities than sectarianism and in my opinion this is a sad reflection of the society we live in, that sectarianism has become tollerated and accepted. If the orange order were to nail anti-jewish, black, asian colours to the mast there would be international outrage. This rule does not seem to apply to fenians. Nationalists are happy to let the OO march till the cows come home just not through their areas were the aim is to cause anger and offence. The OO should enjoy these petty victories while they can for the Croppies will not lie down!

  • fair_deal


    “Nationalists are happy to let the OO march till the cows come home just not through their areas”

    You claim to oppose sectarianism yet you demand sectarian boundaries be enforced. Why the contradiction?

  • Northern FF

    Joe, catch a grip. Can you not see that this ‘croppy will not lie down’ nonsense is exactly what keeps the blood coursing through Orange veins?

    Have the confidence in your own cultural and political beliefs to ignore it.

  • MacSuiblaig

    I think the point Joe may be making is that people are content for the OO to express its cultural identity as much as they like, providing they do not use it as a coat trailing exercise through streets where Nationalists/Catholics predominantly live. The ethos of the ortganisation is, after all, specifically anti Catholic. We all recognise the scenes of march followers and the damage and escalating conflict that follows, with the re-badged RUC happy to lend a hand and arrest a few residents protesting the march.

    For an oranisation to be so obstinate and convinced of their inalienable right to gather and march as to completely disregard demographic changes in an area, to refuse to engage with resident groups on the basis that they view them as provisional fronts, is childish and spoilt, indicative of someone who has had their way for so long that they cannot operate any other way. When I was young that sort of behaviour was rewarded with a clip round the ear. These days, apparently, it is rewarded with a lollypop and reassurance that such behaviour will be frowned on, but tolerated.

  • fair_deal


    “arrest a few residents protesting the march”

    No they arrest people who engage in acts of crime. For example, after trouble at Ardoyne last year the PSNI arrested individuals from both communities.

    On routes etc one community does not have a veto how another expresses itself. Can a sabbatarian tell the GAA not to play on Sundays? No. Can the white community here tell the Chinese community how to celebrate Chinese New Year? No.

    The dialogue issue is starting to wear thin, there has been dialogue in North Belfast and republican behaviour deteriorated. There has also been dialogue in Londonderry.

    On the provo fronts issue it does seem strange that a remarkably high proportion of the spokespersons have paramilitary convictions.

    I’ll ask you what I asked Joe, you attack sectarianism yet you demand sectarian boundaries be enforced. Why the contradiction?

  • DK

    I really dislike having to defend members of the OO. It is an organisation that I have no affinity for other than some pleasant memories as a child watching the parades in Donegal with my father.

    However, given Joe’s vitriol and rush to adopt the mantle of the oppressed, I feel that I must at least try to explain the world through the eyes of the OO members for those that have any desire to understand.

    The OO can be described as sectarian if it indeed qualifies as a sect and its members follow that sect. A sect by definition is a body of persons sharing a religious doctrine, denomination or even a particular school of thought. Most people could probably qualify for the label including members of the RM. However, the term sect is usually applied to unorthodox beliefs. The central belief of the OO is in the reformed christian faith. That probably gives them a get out clause in that the reformed faith is generally not considered unorthodox.

    One of the central accusations that nationalists make about the OO is that it is anti catholic evidenced by the fact that catholics aren’t normally invited to brethren meetings. I would have to agree. It is anti catholic, that is anti the catholic faith. It may be news to some, but the reformed faith came about because of a rejection of some of the central tenets of the catholic faith. The OO celebrates and promotes the reformed faith. I actually think they have a right to do that and should not be vilified for it. They are no more sectarian that the catholic church, the AOH, the Celtic supporters club, the Tree Hugging society etc etc. Presumably you do not qualify as a member of the tree hugging society if you don’t like trees! You don’t get into the OO if you don’t believe in the reformed faith.

    The other critism levelled at the OO is “coat trailing” and the “croppy lie down” thing that Joe was so keen to cling to. This appears to be linked to the marching and that aspect of the OO that celebrates the 1690 defeat of a catholic king by a protestant one. Admittedly it seems a bit stupid to be celebrating some victory of centuries ago which actually had little to do with Ireland. Stupid or not, they do, presumably because in their eyes it marks an important event in the survival of the reformed faith in Ireland. It is worth pointing out that they are not the only organisation that celebrate battles from the past. Battles tend to have at least two protangonists with winners and losers. Celebrations of such battles, usually by the decendants of the winning side, will always run the risk of offending the decendants of the losing side. One only has to look at the Easter Rising marches to see parallels to the OO marches. It is a particular anti British event generally complete with menacing colour parties in berets and dark glasses. I have had the unfortunate experience of being trapped at the side of a road when one of those parades passed by. Not pleasant!

    I think we have covered the aspects of why the OO only want Protestants in their membership, why they might want to celebrate ancient battles and why those celebrations are unlikely to please everyone. We have also drawn more recent comparisons.

    Now to the big one, or at least the one used most consistently to beat the OO with, (sometimes literally). Why do they want to march past areas where people do not want them. Not an easy one. I will profer the following suggestions some of which have more validity than others:

    The right to freedom of assembly, (the OO’s usual defence)

    – there is a valid point. In most western societies freedom of speech and assembly is cherished. The right to protest and even annoy people is normally protected. I have stood in protests outside the South African enmbassy during the aparteid era. I am sure those going in and out felt annoyed. I wanted them to.

    – some of the routes contested aren’t so much going through a nationalist area but rather going down a main arterial road which passe by a nationalist estate on one side. Members of the OO feel that people are really going out of their way to get annoyed.

    – where does it stop? This must be a question in their minds. How many nationalists need to live on a route before it gets ruled “Out of Order”. (I couldn’t resist the pun!) Is it a hundred, fifty, ten, one? If we lived together as in a normal society, rather than a cantonised one, one could imagine that there wouldn’t be a street left to walk on that didn’t have an objecting resident.

    – the perception that SF/IRA, (damn them), have artifically created this as an issue. I think this is a big factor for the OO and acts as an impediment to adopting a more reasonable approach. I also think there is some truth in it but not as much as the OO think.

    – they want to put it up the nationalists, (croppy lie down thing). I have no doubt that this is a factor with some of the hangers on and lodges from hardened areas. I know nationalists like Joe love to think it is as it confirms their own prejudice. I do not think it is the main reason.

    Personally, I would like to see the OO members pay more attention to their faith and less to tradition. That is one point I agree with Joe on. Of course I could also ask that nationalists pay some attention to theirs. There is a lot of commonality there, love thy neighbour, turn the other cheek etc.

    A final piece of advice would be that they give up marching and adopt the oppressed mantle. That one seems to work a treat and makes you feel good about yourself, even if its a bit dishonest.

    That’s about all I wish to say on the topic. It is quite draining having to defend an organisation that you don’t particularily admire. Unfortunately I seldom see OO members articulating a defence themselves and that leaves the field open to unreasonable attack from Joe and others.

  • Penny

    I have always believed that the orange order members should walk where they want, it’s a basic right. I acknowledge they also have a responsibility to not cause offence, so they must ask the residents what offends them. Is it the sash, the banners, the bands, the fact that they’re protestant or a combination? Then whatever the offence was it could be resolved by either taking down the banners, removing the sash dropping the bands or reverting the roman catholicism for 15 minutes.
    These ‘resident groups’ and their supporters attacking the parades remind me of the deep south when ‘black’ people tried to parade through their own town and were spat at and attacked verbally and physically. It’s a shame the orange order and their followers don’t conduct themselves with the same integrity as the ‘black’ Americans on parade.

  • PatMcLarnon

    The only response should be the banning of these sectarian hate fests from communities that approach the marching season with the usual mixture of fear and loathing.
    The increasing number of attacks on Catholic homes and property already this summer indicate that elements within unionism prefer to support their culture(sic) by the attempted incineration of Catholic families.

  • fair_deal


    You do like the sectarian attacks record however your representation of the situation is blinkered yet again. It was clear from the republican violence last Friday at Ardoyne that sectarianism is the preserve of no one community.

  • MacSuiblaig

    Fair Deal, while I take your point, it is mildly surprising that it is only recently that some of the marchers and their thick skulled followers in their Union Flag and Combat 18 shirts have been subject to arrest rather than the people staging sit down protests before being baton charged off their streets. Let’s not be kidders in poretending that fair treatment has been meted out to all sides in the not to distant past on the marching issue.

    DK, a fair and reasonable approach to the situation. No one likes being intimidated by unwelcome and threatening marches. However, joining the Order requires (unless I am much mistaken) swearing to do all that they can to persuade poor delusional Romanist Catholics of the error of their ways. This has been used as justification of some questionable acts in the past.

    I was born and raised a Catholic and therefore, will be subject to the usual preconceptions about me. However, I see all faith (whether christian or Muslim or indeed the worship of trees of cats) as little more than childish hiding from dealing with what this ludicrous life throws at you. Others are entitled to their view and that’s fine. I would not want to be castigated and told that I must be touched by God and let him into my life (in a reformed way or otherwise) in order to avoid everlasting poking with sticks and so on.

    Celebrating the victory of one foreign monarch over another foreign monarch (neither of whom gave a damn about this tiny island) over 300 years after the event seems to me as I say, childish and triumphalist. Never mind the croppy lie down point, it’s the stupidity of grown men dressing up in sashes claiming their traditional right to walk down this road or that road when people are so opposed to it, that I find offensive.

    I would think it would be interesting, however, to see what the Parades Commission and indeed the impartial police force would do about a proposed 1798 commemmoration march down a road peopled predominantly by Protestants or Unionosts, demographics having changed in the area to reflect this. I imagine they would offer them the same protection they offered the children from the Holy Cross School. A few years of equal recruiting from the respective 2 largest communities does not change the ethos of this organisation as far as I can see.

    The North is a divided society and I do not think it will change any time soon whils the vocal minority (admittedly on both sides) dictate the pace. Regrettably, those who most reject change to an equal society are now in ascendancy in political terms because of skilful exploitation of fears. Let none of us pretend that the good Doctor (hon) wants to embrace a process that could lead to the break with Britain.

  • NewYorker

    Why not ban ALL parades and marches? You all seem to agree you live in an abnormal society and in that circumstance banning all parades and marches seems a reasonable solution until you, if ever, evolve into a normal society. It seems to me that public order should be the priority. Are parades and marches more important than personal injuries and property damage, not to mention raising people’s blood pressure?

  • Alan McDonald


    Fellow New Yorker here. I agree with you because I hate parades, especially the ones with a lot of cheap flag waving by even cheaper politicians. I’m all for banning parades and marches here too!

  • G2


    “Fellow New Yorker here. I agree with you because I hate parades, especially the ones with a lot of cheap flag waving by even cheaper politicians. I’m all for banning parades and marches here too!”

    At least we dont go around saluting the flag like you nutters do in America

  • Alan McDonald


    Don’t they teach flag etiquette where you come from?

    Here in the USA it’s part of the Boy Scouts’ Handbook. They may not know up from down, but our scouts know all about their flag.


    Banning parades would be acceptable if both communities placed equal emphasis on holding parades.
    Since they don’t, banning parades would adversely affect one specific community.

    It makes as much logical sense to propose that the solution is banning anyone from protesting a parade.

  • PaddyCanuck

    New Yorkers, the only flag etiquette taught here is how to burn a tricolour on an eleventh night bonfire.

    As G2 said the looney right in the US has taken flag worship to a fascist extreme, after congress passed the proposed constitutional ban on flag burning this week.

    I think the US is the abnormal society at the moment!

  • tra g

    I see Nelson McCausland got tongue tied on Hearts & Minds, when challenged about the fact that loyalist paramilitaries are seated within the orange order forum discussing parades in West and North Belfast.

    Mc Causland refused to answer the question.

    The forum was meeting tonight to draw up its battle plan for the weekend, orange order reps,elected unionist reps and off course, loyalist paramilitary reps.

    No change there then.

  • fair_deal

    “a proposed 1798 commemmoration march down a road peopled predominantly by Protestants or Unionosts”

    As my family actually turned out in the 1798 rebellion could I not be allowed to attend the event?

    AOH parades are tolerated in a number of Protestant communities.

  • Alan McDonald

    Turns out you guys do have flag etiquette after all.
    If you go to Basic Flag Protocol and Etiquette for the UNION FLAG, you’ll learn that you must:
    Ensure you have the flag the CORRECT way up. The BROAD WHITE STRIPE should always be at the top of the flag, next to the pole.

    If you go to Irish Flag, you’ll also find a section on Irish Flag Etiquette. (BTW, I couldn’t find anything in this section about burning flags on July 11th.)

  • Donnie


    Why do the OO insist on parading their culture through predominantly nationalist/republican areas. If the OO parades are really about celebrating the Orange culture then why aren’t you content with celebrating it in your own area?

    I don’t get “traditional route” argument at all – times, geography, demographics change and the OO should be expected to meet these changes. To the outside world it almost looks like the OO and their supporters want to triumphantly parade through the territory of the deafeated enemy…

  • aquifer

    I like parades. Carnival parades, the Brixton Carnival, gay pride. I’ve enjoyed them all. I’m a sucker for costumes, music, dancing and marching too. And the bigger better behaved Orange parades are quite a spectacle, with colourful banners, still some marching bands, and silver sticks being thrown in the air. I prefer the Belfast beat carnival though with the cool creative costumes and the kids having a great time. Everyone should have a parade some time.

    And if you can’t have a parade, have a big party instead.

    A hired PA with bass bins has got to be able to out-decibel those weenie flute bands and remind them of the girls they are missing.

  • tra g

    I see Nelson McCausland got tongue tied on Hearts & Minds, when challenged about the fact that loyalist paramilitaries are seated within the orange order forum discussing parades in West and North Belfast.

    Mc Causland refused to answer the question.

    The forum was meeting tonight to draw up its battle plan for the weekend, orange order reps,elected unionist reps and off course, loyalist paramilitary reps.

    No change there then.

  • Vera

    “As G2 said the looney right in the US has taken flag worship to a fascist extreme, after congress passed the proposed constitutional ban on flag burning this week.”

    You do know that this is an essentially meaningless gesture on the part of the GOP, and that it passing the House means nothing, don’t you? It will NEVER be ratified, and I would be amazed if it even made it past the Senate.

    They do this every few years. Always have, always will. It always passes the House and always dies in the Senate. It’s just chest-pounding for their supporters back in their districts. Stupid loud-mouthed chest-pounding is what the House is for, after all.

  • Donnie


    This is my point. I don’t think many people have a problem with the parades it’s the OO insistence on parading through nationalist areas which is the problem. The fact that they insist on this makes me think that conflict, intransigence and deliberately inciting the baser elements of both sides is a more important part of their culture than the religious ceremony, the bands, music, upholding the Protestant faith etc.

    The traditional route argument appears to be a deliberate smokescreen to give the OO an annual excuse to stand on the neck of the “dirty fenians”.

  • Hotdogx

    you made a point there a while ago about what number of (anti orange march) residents are necessary to block a march.

    In my opinion, if these residents of an area decide in a vote among themselves by popular demand that a parade should not pass their area then that parase should not pass. If they asked the residents the might allow the march!

    The OO are finding it hard these days as penny pointed out above and its unfortunate for them that they cant cellebrate their day (those who just wish to celebrate peacefully) but these problems are the fault of the OO themselves.

    For example, some orange men say ” We feel the north is getting smaller and we are finding there are more and more places we cant go”

    This statement shows that OO is only now realising that it must ask residents before marching in certain areas because in the past they could do it and get away with it, unionism had control of the police the army and the goverment etc. Now that an equal society is starting to develope the OO are finding it difficult. They must learn to respect the wishes of the residents and open dialogue with them or have their parade banned, its a free country as was said above and hopefully a fair one, this summer we’ll see!

    On a last point, the orange order marches every year just up the road from me, peacefully, here in the republic!!!! Im interested in all the traditions that are present in my country and i have watched this parade on a number of occasions and most onlookers are nationalist and a good proportion of them are catholics. It seems the irish republic is a more equal society for orangemen than the one created by unioism to serve their interests only!

  • DK


    your suggestion of a vote amongst residents seems reasonable on the surface. However, you could get into all sorts of difficulties defining the boundaries of a residential area. For example, the Ormeau Rd, (main arterial route into the city centre), is a patchwork quilt of different communities. The lower part of the road is identifed as nationalist on one side and student/bedsit land on the other, (Holy lands). The number of nationalist homes actually on or facing the road probably number about twenty. The upper Ormeau is predominatly loyalist. Closer to the city, (lower lower Ormeau), you have the loyalist area of Donegal Pass. You can therefore draw lines to give you the answer that you want. The word “Gerrymandering” springs to mind.

    I am not saying that it’s a bad idea, just potentially simplistic. We will probably need yet another quango to define boundaries which no-one will agree with. Once defined do they stay fixed in the face of continued demographic change?

    Depressing isn’t it.

    Before I leave this subject, hopefully for good, (I must see a therapist), I will throw one final thought on the table in relation to the “coat trailing” charge:

    As pointed out many times, by nationalists, demographics have changed and the OO should change their routes accordingly. That point recognises the fact that at one time, certain contentious parades were not contentious because the previous residents of an area were unionist minded. The OO marched, the residents watched and everyone had a jolly good day out. No reasonable person could accuse the OO of “coat trailing” under those circumstances. Now of course the world has changed, over a period of time the colour of the area has changed from orange to green. The OO of course have continued with their marching without due regard to the changing demographics. The nationalist ascertain now is that the OO are holding their march as a “coat trailing” excercise because nationalists have moved into the area. My question is, “at what time did their mindset change to a “coat trailing” mindset”? There must have been some sudden switch, perhaps voted for at a lodge meeting? Did that coincide with a census of the area’s population? I am trying to picture the scene.

    “Beloved Brethren, we have just received information that the population of the area, defined by boundaries with geographical co-ordinates, longtitude x and latitude y, is now made up of 51% catholics and 49% protestants. We therefore propose that we change the march objectives from culture and faith to “coat trailing”. Should the house for sale on Billy Boy Avenue be sold to a protestant, then we will revert to the original purpose. Ayes to the right …”

    The logic just doesn’t stack up.

  • BM

    DK: Your comment that the Upper Ormeau is predominantly loyalist is not strictly true. If you check the census statistics you’ll see that the area is predominantly Catholic

  • Betty Boo

    One argument for the OO parades seems to be tradition.
    ”My father walked down this road and so did his father …”
    If I would walk down my grandfathers roads I would end up in Paris and Stalingrad dressed in a nazi uniform, singing Hitler songs, occupying someone else’s country and under such circumstances might find myself as fiercely contested as they did.
    For this very reason I’m extremely suspicious, when someone calls on tradition to make his case.

  • JD

    What is wrong with the common sense position that, if an organisation wishes to march through an area were they are not wanted, then the onus is on the organisation to treat the residents with some respect, talk to them, attempt to convince them of your bona fides and reach a reasonable agreement.

    In Derry there have been moves in this direction by some of the loyal orders with successful results. Indeed the Apprentice Boys are endeavouring to promote the historical aspects of their organisation in the city, with little success, but the efforts are appreciated.

    Some of the difficulties with these marches is that to nationalists it is clear that the OO leadership regard them and their representatives as non-persons, not worthy of respect, and therefore feel they have no need to engage. Their only concern is to get the legal backing for their parade and if that is not forth coming then it is the parades commissions fault and they intimate the possibility of trouble ahead including violence.

  • DK


    I used Ormeau as an example to question the notion of what defines a community area. The accuracy of that particular example is irrelevant.

    Betty Boo

    I don’t think that I mentioned the word tradition in either of my contributions. However I agree with your sentiments. It is a weak argument. If you refer to my first contribution, I set out a number of reasons that I believe influence the OO choices.


    you have also reverted to the term residents without defining the boundaries. In Derry it is probably quite obvious. Anything outside the fountain is pretty much nationalist. Still, it was the concept that I wanted to debate as it relates to universal rules on parades. Definition of the terms is important.

    Damn, I promised myself not to return to this depressing topic. The depressing thing is that it brings you to a conclusion that there will never be a wholesome society in NI, the six counties, Ulster, or whatever term you want to apply. To much hate on both sides and not enough backbone in those with vision to hold their ground and resist the temptation to revert to type and just have one more go!

  • Betty Boo


    I read you posts again and you did. Sorry. But this is of no importance.
    I ‘ve just heard it so many times and could never accept it as reason for marching, coming in on this with the past of my people.
    There must be literally other roads to express one’s culture and heritage.
    One of those could be to show to people like me and all those who know as less as I do, the variety of this culture and heritage.
    First time I heard of the OO was on TV as police battered the living day light out of Gavaghy Road residents to clear the way for their march.
    For someone who is made about heritage and history as I am, is was unusual to disregard completely parts of it. But it really put me off for a long time and only recently I changed my mind because I came across this site and some very good discussion about it.
    Your input has been very much appreciated.

  • JD


    Depressing as it is, it is a problem that we must deal with as we are forced by the annual insistance of the loyal orders to parade, march, coat trail what ever you like through areas where they know they are not wanted.

    People of reason, like you, need to take control of these situations and face down the ancient leaderships of the loyal orders who still have the “uppity fenians” mentality.