When tradition doesn’t fit purpose…..

The troubled village of Stoneyford, Co. Antrim, will be the scene of an eleventh night bonfire parade again this year. We are often told the value placed on ‘traditional routes’ by loyalist orders and marching bands. Yet in Stoneyford, controversy has erupted following the application by the Pride of the Village Flute Band to parade into new housing developments for the second year in a row. Local residents believe the reason for this bizarre application is quite simple: the marching loyalists are annoyed that the new developments contain a sizeable number of catholic families. So what better way to put them in their place then to march through narrow residential streets, complete with loyalist regalia and with a band membership containing prominent loyalists? Nationalists will note how quickly tradition was jettisoned, for a greater cause…

The parade ‘traditionally’ past along the Stoneyford Road to the bonfire site. However, for the past number of years, the flute band has attempted to march into the two housing developments, The Beeches and Stonebridge Meadows. Two years ago, the band marched into the Beeches development, with members wearing t-shirts with ‘Orange Volunteers‘ emblazoned across their chest, in reference to the loyalist paramilitary grouping which has its core membership in the village environs.

Last year, an application to march into the yet-to-be completed Stonebridge Meadows (i.e. past diggers and down streets yet fully paved) was eventually withdrawn after residents and Lisburn Sinn Fein councillor, Paul Butler, brought the matter into the public realm. Two weeks later, catholic families in the newly-built development had their homes and vehicles attacked by loyalists. These attacks continued into the new year, when a catholic family in the development survived an arson attack on their home. The previous year, catholic residents of The Beeches development were forced from their homes in the aftermath of attacks from loyalists only weeks after the parade.