John Laird makes a pitch for changing the way the Twelth of July Orange demonstrations are seen, by participants and non-participants alike.He notes that history suggests that the ancestors of modern Orangemen found themselves on either side in the 1798 rebellion for instance:
….members of my own lodge, and our American guests, recreated the Battle of King’s Mountain, where Ulster-Scots settlers from the Carolinas and East Tennessee inflicted a crushing defeat on the British, in October 1780; and the Battle of Saintfield, where the United Irish routed the York Fencibles, in June 1798. Men called James, David and John Laird fought in the Battle of King’s Mountain in the ranks of the Ulster-Scots rebels. Interestingly, my brother James, my son David, and I, John, were in attendance at this year’s Twelfth. Although I wore the uniform of an officer of the York Fencibles on the Twelfth, in 1798 there were Lairds on both sides. Such matters are not simply interesting; they highlight the astonishing complexity of the past. We ought to be very wary of brutal simplicities.
And from this he concludes:
This invaluable work – harnessing the experience of the Maiden City Festival and extending the benefits of that experience to the rest of Northern Ireland – was largely the product of the voluntary effort and enthusiasm of Ulster-Scots cultural activists with comparatively meagre resources at their disposal, because our culture is not as generously funded as other cultures. As yet, we do not enjoy parity of esteem or funding which is our right. That must change.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty