A Republican take on this year’s Twelfth- and more!

Sorry to steal a march on Fair Deal (poor pun, I know) but I’m posting this piece I’ve been working on containing my observations on this year’s Twelfth, possible repercussions for the future and my own suggestions for transforming Orangeism. Responses are welcome, regardless of political affiliation.This year’s relatively peaceful marching season has left a mood of quiet optimism in the air and generated some welcome discussions and debates about how the pinnacle of the Orange marching year can be transformed to effectively close the chapter on the violent era of communal instability often precipitated by contentious marches and sectarian incidents associated with marches.

The decision by the British Government and local government councils to use public funds as a means of enticing unionism and the Loyal Orders to favourably address the Orange ‘agenda for change’ has proven contentious in itself, not least because there is no guarantee that the path being laid out for the Order and associated loyalists will be followed.

For nationalists, the funding of 11th Night bonfires is particularly galling, given that these often incorporate the burning of effigies and/ or posters of nationalist and catholic leaders, not to mention the burning of the National flag of the nationalist population. Reciprocal funding for a 9th August bonfire which included the burning of the union flag and effigies of Ian Paisley would not be countenanced by local councils- and nor should it.

The British government’s funding for the optimistically entitled ‘Orangefest’ is a clear attempt to steer the Order in a new direction, using a financial incentive to keep the Order on board. Again, nationalists have expressed unease at this proposition and, for this, have incurred the wrath of some commentators, eager to point to similar funding being received by the various nationalist festivals in Belfast.

But there is a distinction here which runs to the core of the nationalist unease. The funding being received by Feile an Phobail, and its equivalent festivals in other parts of Belfast, was only obtained after the bonfire culture had been long abandoned and on the basis that its replacement involved a wide variety of events, none of which involved burning flags and/ or effigies of political leaders, nor involved provoking communal instability by seeking to impose the republican tradition on unionist communities through marches into those communities.

For nationalists, the Orangefest funding- and bonfire funding- has come without the promise and real potential merits of change being clearly agreed-nor yet delivered- by the Order. This year has signalled an undeniable advance from every perspective. The Orange Order at last appears conscious of the need to deliver change, with its decision to meet with some leaders from within the catholic and nationalist tradition being particularly positive; 11th Night bonfires are being addressed from an enviromental perspective; but there remains a sense that the supremacist and deeply bigoted elephant in the room, represented by the worst aspects of the bonfires, the antagonising practice of erecting loyalist flags and bunting to provoke, and the remaining contentious routes has yet to be truly addressed by the Order and unionism in general.

A second observation arising from the various discussions about the place of the 11th Night/ 12th July within unionist culture is the value we place on single identity v. shared identity celebrations. This occurred to me when listening to former Newsletter editor, Austin Hunter, on a radio programme on the 12th July. When asked about the cross-community appeal of the Twelfth, he was (in my opinion) rightly dismissive of the notion, and pointed out that not all celebrations need be cross-community to be positive.

In this I found myself concurring with Mr. Hunter. In reality those who believe that nationalists will ever likely feel comfortable at an Orange celebration are delusional at best and mischievous at worst. By definition, the Twelfth and associated Orange- and other Loyal Order celebrations- are about remembering an exclusively Protestant and British identity, celebrating victories over their neighbours and remembering defeats inflicted by this enemy.

Orangefest must be less about becoming all-inclusive (an impossible goal) and more about becoming a positive assertion of the unionist identity which achieves the objective of providing an outlet for the unionist identity but without antagonising nor provoking their nationalist neighbours at the same time. As one Scandinavian tourist incisively put it when questioned during a UTV vox pop outside the City Hall, it is a ‘loaded’ celebration; let’s not deny that but simply acknowledge it and plan accordingly.

If this is sought after and achieved, then nationalists would have no grounds for objection and indeed would be churlish to do so- as unionists look today when they rather spitefully attack the Feile an Phobail. Essentially, the Orange Order will have transformed itself into a protestant version of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians: an exclusivist organisation with exclusive appeal, but one which has long celebrated its culture in a non-offensive manner (so much so that very few nationalists- never mind unionists- know what it actually stands for!)

The recent funding wave which has been delivered to the Order raises some uncomfortable questions for unionists regarding St. Patrick’s Day and more specifically, the need to publicly accept the legitimacy of and expressions of the Irish nationalist tradition in the north of Ireland.

Nationalists view the protestations of unionists regarding St. Patrick’s day celebrations as an attempt to suppress expressions of their Irish identity. It is more than likely that future attempts by Alliance and unionist leaders to demand an effective ban on Irish nationalist emblems on what is universally recognised as the day in which Irish people express their identity will be ferociously resisted by nationalist politicians, who will simply point to 11th Night and 12th July funding initiatives as the prototype for the funding of single identity celebrations.

There may be those who believe that it is better to attempt to transform Belfast’s St. Patrick’s Day parade into a shared celebration through the suppression of Irish nationalist symbols in order to make events more appealing for unionists. Whatever the merits of this objective, in reality it will be viewed suspiciously by nationalists as simply another attempt to deny nationalists the right to express their identity with official ‘approval.’ Shared celebrations must be natural, not manufactured through the deliberate suppression of one identity, if they are to succeed in the long run.

Lastly, I opened a thread during the week asking for Slugger contributors to provide individual recollections of their 12th July experiences. I would like to thank all of those who did so, whatever their background. My intention was to provide Slugger readers with a chance to listen to the varying experiences of the day which inform our perceptions and opinions. None of us are likely to change what we believe, but we lose nothing and gain much by acknowledging and taking into consideration the views of others.

From my perspective, I have given some thought to what it would take from a nationalist viewpoint to perceive the 11th/12th July period in a more benign, non-threatening way. These are, obviously, my opinions solely, and collectively amount to a number of steps the Orange Order, remaining Loyal Orders and unionist political leaders could take to achieve the stated goal of transforming the Twelfth into a productive expression of positive unionism:

1. Restrict parades to non-contentious areas: a simple step, given that we are talking now of probably less than 20 parade routes across the 6 counties that could be deemed contentious. On this one, I’m going to be blunt: nobody buys the ‘traditional route’ crap, and by pushing it, you only expose an arrogant attitude which is utterly inconsistent with an objective of wanting to be primarily concerned with creating a fun, family-based occasion.
2. Show greater regard and sensitivity to your neighbours when erecting flags, bunting and arches. Personally I believe us nationalists have no grounds for complaining about the appearance of such unionist symbols in unionist areas, though the tactless manner in which such items are often erected will more likely offend local unionist residents. It is when scenarios like that in Lurgan arise, where the PSNI work with loyalists to provoke nationalists by erecting bunting in areas they are not wanted, that nationalists get their proverbial ‘backs up.’ For this, I would propose a simple rule of thumb: when considering the location for flags, bunting and arches, loyalists should ask themselves whether they would be offended or object to the erection of republican flags or bunting in that precise location, be it town centres and/or mixed residential areas.
3. Do something to address the nakedly sectarian appearance of the 11th Night bonfires: on another thread here, I pointed to the beacon initiative being pursued by Belfast City Council. In reality, however, that will have more impact on the environmental damage caused by the bonfires. Tackling the sectarian dimension of the bonfires should be priority number one for all those in unionism genuinely interested in transforming perceptions of Orangeism and their cultural expression. There should be no tolerance for the burning of effigies of religious or political leaders, nor of election posters and most certainly not of the National flag of some 45% of the population of the 6 counties.
4. Genuinely work to broaden the appeal of the Twelfth (within unionism never mind nationalism!) by incorporating additional events which do not revolve around marches. This may take the form of theatre, exhibitions, debates or children’s festivals. This will provide a broader, less threatening appeal to the celebrations and may even allow for nationalists to become involved to some extent- if only as visitors to exhibitions or as participants in debates.

These are my own personal observations and thoughts. Orangemen and their fellow loyalists will ultimately determine the future format for 12th of July celebrations. But ultimately, the objective must be one of taking the tension out of the air and of providing their own community with an enjoyable, appealing and non-threatening celebration.

  • Resolve

    Very good, Chris. Nothing revolutionary in there, just good old common sense.

    p.s. i think your ‘rule of thumb’ suggestion in no.2 is slightly off the mark. Wouldn’t Unionists be most offended by republican flags etc. in their own areas? But i think i know what you mean.

  • slug

    These seem like four fair points.

    I agree – as someone not of an Orange background at all – that they need first to work on their image within the unionist community and to neutrals such as tourists. I also agree that a bit of diversification from parading to other festivities would make it a broader event. I also agree with the idea of them cleaning up the bonfire night-both the environmental and sectarian damage.

  • “This year’s relatively peaceful marching season has left a mood of quiet optimism in the air” or in some cases the faint smell of burnt embers.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Chris,

    It’s good that nationalists are recognizing that the marching session cannot be cross-community, and cannot be made inclusive. This is an improvement.

    There are a couple of your points I take exception to :

    Nationalists view the protestations of unionists regarding St. Patrick’s day celebrations as an attempt to suppress expressions of their Irish identity. It is more than likely that future attempts by Alliance and unionist leaders to demand an effective ban on Irish nationalist emblems on what is universally recognised as the day in which Irish people express their identity will be ferociously resisted by nationalist politicians, who will simply point to 11th Night and 12th July funding initiatives as the prototype for the funding of single identity celebrations.

    But St Patrick’s Day isn’t supposed to be an expression of Irish identity. It is not supposed to be a day where Irish nationalist emblems are displayed. Unlike the marching season, it IS supposed to be a cross-community event and it has been billed as such.

    Why do nationalists insist that St Patrick’s Day must include lots of nationalist flag waving in Belfast, whereas they make no such insistence in other parts of NI where they are quite happy not to fly tricolours everywhere ? The only St P funding dispute is in Belfast.

    Restrict parades to non-contentious areas: a simple step, given that we are talking now of probably less than 20 parade routes across the 6 counties that could be deemed contentious.

    Nationalists do not own the place and they have no right to dictate who may march where. Free movement, assembly, and speech are fundamental rights which you seem to be trying to take away.

    There should be no tolerance for the burning of effigies of religious or political leaders, nor of election posters and most certainly not of the National flag of some 45% of the population of the 6 counties.

    In the last assembly election held here nationalists won 40.5% of the vote, or 280305 votes. The population of NI is 1.5m people, so 18.6% of the population voted for nationalists. If you’re going to insist on a sectarian headcount, Chris, I suggest you get your facts right, and stop assuming that a proportion of those who abstained or could not vote were nationalists.

  • Gilbert -Paul Jeannon.

    Excellent article Chris

    I think that your ideas are practical and I hope that people of influence with in the OO can engage with the spirit of this article and try to implement the ideas contain in it.

    However when you take the sectarianism and supramacist posturing away from the OO, will there be any reason for people to march?
    Is this season not a way of reinforcing (celebrating) the apartheid like system of the six counties.

    I would suggest that the members of the protestant community celebrate events in history which are inclusive to the people in the six counties. An acceptance that King William was fighting in Ireland as part of a coalition with the Pope against French dominance of Europe, would make this Orange fest more inclusive. But are the OO really about civil rights and liberty for all?

    Sceptism aside these ideas that you have posted Chris will go far in stopping justifiable anger and distress to those whose civil and religious rights are violated by these celebrations.

  • fair_deal

    Chris

    A bit bog standard republican formula but here goes

    Point 1 – The number of contentious areas has consistently grown so the “End these 20 and everything will be hunky-dory” doesn’t fly. Are you saying end the 20 and no more will arise? Are the Londonderry parades included in that total? Does this make talk to us and you get your walk is a fraud? Also Republicanism have a real opportunity around parades and making their commitment to a human rights agenda seen to be for all not just fot them. The right to march is essentially freedom of speech, freddom of association and freedon of assembly. An opportunity to make it real. At the end of the day if we are incapable of sharing a road or town/village centre are we really capable of sharing a government?
    Point 2 – This is were you show greatest flexibility but there are a couple of impracticalities your suggestion needs to look at. On the issue of provocation, we have to remember that we tend to always apply the worst possible motivations to what each community does. The display of a national flag can be seen as a natural act in most of the world but here such a display is invariably defined as motivated by nothing by negativity. The need to chalenge the perception is as important as challenging the practice. Also define a Unionist area? When does it become classified as mixed? Is a minority (nationalist or unionist) to be barred from displaying symbols?
    Point 3 – Remember we are not mirror images of one another. The tradition of 11th night bonfires is much stronger and deeper than the Internment bonfire tradition. It claims origins from the large fires built in the Williamite camp the night before the battle. Also just because one community decides to do something doesnt mean the other must adopt its norms. So turning it off or radically changing it in a couple of years I don’t think is achieveable. I must admit the libertarian in me would say freedom of expression means that a flag can be displayed and burned but willing to accept I am probably in a minority in that opinion (and before people start the mickybo stuff crosses the line). At Las fallas in Spain they regularly burn effigies of political leaders, spanish and foreign. Nationalism also presents the practice as an oddity ie Mary Lou McDonalds column in the Daily Ireland. Yet fire festivals are not an odd practice, the Celtic tradition was very keen on them. On the effigies etc replacing something with nothing is always more difficult that replacing something with an alternative. For example 5th November bonfires used to burn effigies of the Pope (they still do in Sussex) but that changed to Guy Fawkes. What about effigies of James or Tyrconnell so it is placed in a clear historical context?
    Point 4 – Already started.

    As regards tension in the air part of the tension is created by what is said and done by nationalists. Also if Unionists are to be expected to take nationalist complaints seriously there is a need for nationalism to practice what it preaches ie don’t cover the place in terrorist veneration then complain about loyalists doing it.

  • Nevin

    Goggins turn

    “This was no accident or coincidence. It was achieved through the tireless efforts of people from all parts of the community; from the Loyal Orders, Nationalist residents and stewards, community representatives, the Parades Commission and the Police.

    … not to mention London and Dublin officials. I wonder why he couldn’t be inclusive.

  • I also thought point 1 basically translated to “Accept that republicans (SF?) will determine where the Orange Order can and can’t march”.

    2 – I think I agree. Get rid of all the paramilitary guff for a start, and keep the UK/NI flags to local communities and main parade routes.

    3 – I think I’ve made my opinions on burning the tricolour more or less clear. The only thing I would stress (to those involved I mean) is that it’s about republicanism: an ideology, not a people.

    4 – Can’t argue with any of that.

  • Nevin

    [i]Get rid of all the paramilitary guff for a start, and keep the UK/NI flags to local communities and main parade routes.[/i]

    Beano, in Bushmills, the Northern Ireland, Scotland and UK flags have been joined by a newish looking UFF flag. If the other flags were paid for by a government department/agency do you suppose any conditions they imposed will be implemented?

  • Nevin, unfortunately I haven’t got a well-thought-out strategy for implementing my ideas, it was more just wishful thinking.

    I think something would have to happen to cause a major mindset-shift in loyalist communities to direct them away from paramilitaries altogether and it’d probably have to be a much more wide-ranging shift rather than one confined to flags; but that really is a whole other story.

  • John East Belfast

    “Shared celebrations must be natural, not manufactured through the deliberate suppression of one identity, if they are to succeed in the long run.”

    I thought that was an interesting sentence as it flies in the face of everything that has been going on here for the last 15 years

    ie Natural has been replaced with Neutral whether it has been the work place, schools (traditionally Protestant Grammar schools that is), cinemas, Govt Buildings – anywhere Protestants and Catholics were going to be together.

    This was always a policy spearheaded by Republicans and viewed by Unionists as a hollowing out of any display of the British and unionist culture.

    Anyhow I am not sure if Chris has really thought this one through as the logic would dictate that ‘natural’ (in this place) can only occur in a segragated celebration not a shared one.

    Republicans and nationalists need to realise that they have the Irish language, Irish music and dance which their tradition can latch onto. This Gaelic tradition is for anyone who calls themselves Irish whether their ancestoral routes would support it or not – very often it doesnt.
    Basically if you are an Irish Catholic or you are a product of a mixed marriage where the catholiscism has got the upper hand then you are going to be culturally Irish.

    Where does that leave the Prods ?

    Basically we have our British and unionist identity and for many it is also wrapped up in Orangeism and its tradition of marching.

    Nationalism needs to get beyond the fact that it commemorates a battle they lost and that it is tied up in Pre 20th Century Protestantism and its attitude to Catholicism.

    Although both of those things matter to some unionists today neither is to the forefront of the majority unionist mindset.

    That Bastille Day led to a bloody slaughter and 4th July was where the US kicked the arse of the British is not central to either event today.

    Like all these things you can choose to dwell on the ugly.

    The challenge for Orangeism is to draw out and articulate the positive – Go beyond even Pro Protestant and become Pro Christian – the latter would dictate that nothing should be done to provoke your neighbour anyway.

    Starting with getting the paramilitary culture out is essential – I have said elsewhere that banner and bands associated with these people is unaccceptable – and if I were a nationalist I would object to their display anywhere near my house also.

    Burning anyone’s flag is a disgrace and burning effigies, is in my opinion, a wicked practice.

  • joeCanuck

    Those are very good well thought out suggestions Chris.

    fair_deal,
    I would imagine that, where a local accomodation has been reached between the Orders and local residents, then those marches are no longer contentious.

  • Chris Donnelly

    “This was always a policy spearheaded by Republicans and viewed by Unionists as a hollowing out of any display of the British and unionist culture.”

    Wrong, John. The policy adopted by republicans was and is about creating an equal or neutral setting, with the preference being for an equal setting- i.e. one in which displays of BOTH nationalist and unionist cultures are accepted in public settings.

    This is an issue which unionism has so far utterly failed to confront, leading most nationalists to conclude that they are simply not interested in conferring any form of legitimacy on expressions of the Irish nationalist indentity.

    I refer you to one simple yet powerful statement made by the first republican Mayor of Belfast, Alex Maskey. When voted in as Mayor, Alex did not throw out the union flag that was permanently sited in the Mayoral Office; rather, he placed alongside it the Irish tricolour in a powerful reconciliatory message to unionists.

    When, John, can we expect some reciprocation from unionism in this regard?

  • The problem with that Chris, is that flags are symbols not just of people but of sovereignty. Expressions of identity and symbols of sovereignty aren’t comparable.

  • fair_deal

    joe

    “those marches are no longer contentious.”

    There was an attack on a parade in Londonderry on the twelfth night. At Ardoyne despite vast improvements this year both parades were still attacked. Does that make them contentious?

  • fair_deal

    Chris

    What part of accepting the principle of consent did republicans not understand? From that principle flows consequences ie display of national symbols.

  • John East Belfast

    Chris

    If that is your concern then please tell me why the RUC Cap badge featuring the Harp and the Crown was so unacceptable ?

    Beano has answered your question excellently.

    I have no problem with Harps, shamrocks, even use of gaelic – however intoducing the sovereign flag of another nation is a different matter.

    The RIR, UDR, RUC, even Orange Order had/have no problems with many of the aspects of traditional Irish identity.

  • joeCanuck

    No fair_deal

    If an agreement has been reached, as I said, then young hooigans throwing stones/whatever does not make the march contentious to me.

  • GPJ

    Re; fair deal

    “On the issue of provocation, we have to remember that we tend to always apply the worst possible motivations to what each community does.”

    The burning of the national flag of ireland, the playing of sectarian tunes by loyalist bands outside chapels the intimidation of non-loyalists during the marching season…what other motivations can you deduce from these.

    “At the end of the day if we are incapable of sharing a road or town/village centre are we really capable of sharing a government?”

    The OO are not marching in solidarity or in a spirit of inclusion, if anything their displays are about control. The sharing of government in the six counties, has this not been the crux of the problem for government in the six counties, the continued veto of sharing of power by unionists.

    “The right to march is essentially freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of assembly.”
    If this is the issue then the rights of residents should also be placed as equal to the rights of marchers, the right of individuals to be free from harrasment, to have their political and religious rights respected and to be free from sectarianism.

    Finally the bonfires that you talk about during the Williamite wars were lit by a multi-national and cross denomination army, is this the case for the crowds that gather at the 11th night celebrations?

  • Chris Donnelly

    The problem with that Chris, is that flags are symbols not just of people but of sovereignty. Expressions of identity and symbols of sovereignty aren’t comparable.

    The nail on the head, Beano.

    The protracted nature of this conflict tells us that making such a statement will not wash, plain and simple. It is akin to the embittered loyalist who rings Talkback regularly to tell the catholics who don’t like the flying of union flags to move south of the border.

    It ain’t gonna happen because, whether you like it or not, the national identity of the nationalist population is not British but Irish. Matters of sovereignty will remain contentious for the time ahead: but one way of creating stability is to to confer legitimacy on the separate national identities that reside in the six counties.

    This will prove quite a test for unionism, and is something that the unionist community really needs to start debating.

    Fair Deal
    In response to your welcome comments above:

    The freedom of Assembly garble is just that: you and I both know that a republican parade from Ligoneil, down through Ballysillan and into Ardoyne, would not receive the support of the DUP nor any other constituent group within unionism (see Ian Paisley and Paisley og’s reaction to last year’s republican parade in a nationalist part of Ballymena, not to mention the more vicious reaction of the loyalist organisations at the time across north Antrim.)

    Why? Because it would be rightly viewed as a provocative act, plain and simple. There is no need to go any further: it is for unionism- and the Loyal Orders in particular- to determine what they want from their proposed Orangefest. Is it preferable to persist with provocative parades, create disharmony in the community and ensure sectarian tensions arise annually? Or would it be better to call a halt to some parades, seek negotiations in a genuine manner with residents with the result perhaps being that many of these parade routes are no longer deemed contentious but are agreed to by all in the community?

    It comes down to which is more important: the cultural day out for the family or the need to get one over on the nationalists.

    On the issue of the flying of flags, I would simply reiterate the point I referred to as my rule of thumb: For all their faults, people aren’t stupid, FD. Republicans do not erect the national flag in mixed residential areas, not just because of fear of attack, but also because they know it will likely provoke a response from unionism. As for the suggestion that minority communities should be permitted to fly their flag: this is noble and acceptable in an aspirational context, but not in the current context. Would republicans be permitted to fly the tricolour in the middle of Lisburn, Carrickfergus and/or even mixed residential communities like Carryduff? I hardly think so…

    You are correct to illustrate that we are not mirror images of one another, and nor should we strive to be such as that would remove the cultural diversity of our society. But I think you know what I’m getting at when I speak of the distasteful culture that is the 11th Night bonfire.

    While I accept there may be examples of where the bonfire night does not descend into a sectarian hatefest, but the evidence from a considerable number of bonfire sites would suggest that there exists an underlying sectarian current which unionists can ill afford to bury their head in the sand and ignore.

    Whether it is the burning of Sinn Fein and SDLP election posters, effigies of the Pope, Hunger striker memorials and the universal practice of burning the National flag of their neighbours, unionists can not dismiss these practices as anything less than a gross display of intolerance.

    Perhaps one day our society will become so transformed and settled that we can organise marches wherever we want, burn effigies and flags with carefree disregard and erect flags of whatever hue in any location across the six counties, but we both know none of those practices are going to help us get from where we are now to where collectively this society needs to be.

  • Prince Eoghan

    GPJ has stolen much of my thunder. However I can’t help with agreeing with much of that said by FD @ 12:08 PM. All of this is achievable if the up-front animosity and obvious hatred is removed from OO marches and ethos.

    Chris.

    A pro-Prod OO that seeks to go out of it’s way to have good relations with it’s neighbours is something I personally have no problem with, lose the overt anti-Catholicism and it could be done. This could enable the 11/12 to actually be celebrated as a cultural event and appreciated by many and tolerated by all as an integral part of the community. The craziness vis a vis Paddy’s day has the potential to make Belfast a laughing stock.

  • John East Belfast

    Chris

    On the assumption you are not talking about Joint Authority please tell me how incorporating the shamrock, harp and the Irish language into aspects of Northern Irish life is not sufficient for Consent Principle nationalists ?

    I am assuming you are the latter and ascribe to the Belfast Agreement that maintains the Union until the majority of the 6 counties say otherwise.
    Therefore you just have to accept that and get into the spirit of supporting and getting behind the land within which you live.

    By all means persuade and argue for a 32 county separatist independent Ireland but until you win that argument what on earth has the sovereign flag of the ROI got to do with any aspect of governmental life in NI ?

    Once again please tell me in that spirit of reconciliation you have been writing how the Harp and Crown was not the best icon for shared British and Irish life in NI ?

  • lib2016

    Chris,

    This may be an occasion when we are underestimating the good sense of ordinary people. Sure there are eijits on both sides who will try to foment trouble but it should be pointed out that where they gain the upper hand they destroy what they claim to be defending.

    The Orange Order in Belfast and the other large towns is in crisis and unable to attract the very people it most needs i.e. the respectable middle-class and the sound sensible workingclass leaders.

    Personally I think that the Orders have left reform too late but I’m all for giving them a chance to prove me wrong. In the overall context of NI the money is small change and there is a crying need for anything which helps to stabilise the unionist community in the next few years.

  • Bemused

    Fair Deal’s 12:08 PM is about as depressing as it gets around here.

  • lib2016

    Doesn’t seem to get the point that times have changed, does he? The Twelfth instead of being a celebration of the unionist identity and people is the most divisive day in their calendar.

    On the other hand it unites nationalists like nothing else could. 😉

  • GPJ

    Re: John East Belfast

    “Once again please tell me in that spirit of reconciliation you have been writing how the Harp and Crown was not the best icon for shared British and Irish life in NI ?”

    Because John the PSNI have not reformed, Patten has not beenimplemented, because British intelligence links to unionist/loyalist terror gangs have not been punished and because reconciliation is a two way street.

    I do have to persuade you that a 32 county workers republic will benefit all of the people and communities on this island, so surely you have to persuade me that seventy plus years of N.I has not been a history of mis-rule and division.

  • “Because John the PSNI have not reformed, Patten has not beenimplemented”

    … and yet nobody on this thread was able to state exactly what remained to be implemented when challenged. I for one would be interested to hear what everyone’s waiting for…

  • Belfast Gonzo

    The dates of the general elections.

  • GPJ

    Re: Beano

    “We see the upholding of fundamental human rights as the very purpose of policing and we propose that it should be instilled in all officers from the start – in the oath they take, in their training, and in their codes of practice and in their performance appraisal system.

    Accountability. We believe that the people of Northern Ireland should be responsible for the policing of Northern Ireland… We recommend a less direct relationship between Government and the police.

    the police themselves should develop a culture of transparency, the presumption being that everything should be available for public scrutiny unless it is in the public interest to hold it back.

    “For matters involving covert policing (which every police service needs) we recommend legislation that is fully compliant with the European Convention of Human Rights, the same for Northern Ireland as for the rest of the United Kingdom, and an independent commissioner for covert law enforcement in Northern Ireland as well as a complaints tribunal.”

    Ok Beano, give me a run down on how the PSNI / RUC have implemented these basic recommendations, listed above, into their structures.

    Cosmetic surgury does not change the nature of at person, just their appearance. The PSNI/RUC have had wee nips and cuts and a little botox.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Although not a memer or the OO, and as an atheist never likley to be one, I can sense there is little understanding among nationalists/republicans of what it means to the unionist community.

    There are family links, very similar to the GAA, that bonds the OO to its community. Most members and supporters are not bigots nor even sectarian or than in the sense that it is a Protestant organisation. Like all organisations, including the GAA, there are unfortunately those within it who are sectarian bigots.

    Most people who attend bonfires and attend the marches do not do so because they are supremists they do so because it is part of their family culture and heritage, my own family can trace its OO connections back to the early 1800’s which I suppose is about 8 generations.

    Since nationalists and republicans value their culture and heritage so much why can they not appreciate that unionists can also value theirs equally and allow them to express it as they wish.

    If you really believe in equality and free speech, practice what you have preached for so long.

  • Prince Eoghan

    GJP@7.55, very well put.

    “We recommend a less direct relationship between Government and the police.”

    Or for that matter with the police and local political parties.

    Frustrated Democrat.

    You paint a rosy picture, but once you take away the blinkers(at the bonfires etc…), then you may be able to join some of the few bave souls who seek to do something about it. Not another who seeks to gloss over the obvious. When the day arrives when the picture is as you paint it, why would anyone have a problem?

  • Nevin

    Some time ago Sean Brady, Catholic archbishop of Armagh, referred to a society within a society.

    [i]After partition Northern Nationalists kept a respectful distance from the State and became ‘a society within a society’. The Catholic Church was the key institution in integrating the community and clerical leadership was important. There was an intertwining of Catholicism, Irish culture and political nationalism.[/i]

    IMO there was a similar intertwining within the pan-Unionist family and the Orange Order was the key institution. In more recent times the paramilitary organisations have begun to replace the CC and OO as key institutions. Perhaps, in the not too distant future, we can expect joint statements from the main paramilitary godfathers in place of those from the main church leaders; the Finaghy Crossroads Group may be leading the way.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Prince Eoghan

    Your comments are precisley what I meant, you want to tell the OO and its supporters how their culture and history should be defined and how they should behave.

    Yet if a protestant/unionist was to say the GAA should change and be less ‘Catholic’ and more welcoming to protestants and get rid of all its republican/nationalist connections many would probably be up in arms.

    Most unionists are content to let the GAA continue as its members want it to continue and to be left alone to continue how they want to celebrate their culture.

    There are too many people in NI, on both sides, who want to tell other people how to live their lives and who look for ways to be insulted so they can complain. If we all learned to look the other way, when something displeased us, how much better a society we would have.

  • Prince Eoghan

    FD.

    “Your comments are precisley what I meant, you want to tell the OO and its supporters how their culture and history should be defined and how they should behave.”

    Aye! I belong to a society in the UK that has pretensions at democratic government, we should regulate how people behave, yet we allow an openly sectarian organisation to operate. I have no wishes to curb any organisation that is a peaceful part of that community, clearly the OO is not. If your culture and history is defined by intimidation and projecting hatred, then that culture is clearly in need of being told how to behave.

    I re-iterate any pro-Prod organisation would cause society(of which I am part) no problems at all. The OO In it’s present form only serves to put large sections of that society in a state of fear and alarm. That is a definition of breach of the peace.

    I fear the blinkers are only allowing you to see the nice side of the OO, a side that no-one that I know of would have a problem with. Would you not agree that the OO in it’s present form is in need of a radical makeover? Simply trying to make them more tourist friendly is laughable, the truth will out.

  • joeCanuck

    Yes FD.

    Not picking any side here, but sometimes it’s a tad hard to look the other way when someone is right in your face.
    much better if you don’t indulge in behaviour that would necessitate someone to look away.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Nevin: “IMO there was a similar intertwining within the pan-Unionist family and the Orange Order was the key institution.”

    Except the “pan-Unionist” family *WAS* the the State, Nevin.

    Frustrated: “Your comments are precisley what I meant, you want to tell the OO and its supporters how their culture and history should be defined and how they should behave. ”

    On many of the points in dispute, Frustrated, such as paramilitary symbols, Nationalists are in agreement with the laws of N.I. and, if I recall correctly, the policy of the GOLI. Should Nationalists even *have* to suggest that the OO follow the law?

    Frustrated: “Yet if a protestant/unionist was to say the GAA should change and be less ‘Catholic’ and more welcoming to protestants and get rid of all its republican/nationalist connections many would probably be up in arms. ”

    The GAA does not force its presence upon neighborhoods that do not welcome them, Frustrated. They do no play sectarian tunes before Protestant churches. Their constitution does not specifically reject Protestant participation, nor does it denigrate the Protestant faith. Quit trying to compare apples and… well, you get the point.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    I think I have generated what always happens on this site – there are those want to look for the problems elsewhere and not look at their own failings. This chip on the shoulder reaction does nothing for the people here.

    As I said I am not an OO member, nor do I attend marches on the 12th or at other time but it seems there are those who only want to see the diminishing problems within the OO as a total negative and not at the vast majority of positives as people celebrate their culture. If it so happens that this culture doen’t suit others so be it, it happens all over the world – e.g American Independence and the American Indian culture

    As long as there are people who feel they have ‘given their permission’ that the parades are OK we have a problem – the parades are either OK are or they aren’t – the ‘permission’ doesn’t make them something else. It is this weakness of character that seeks to have power that causes the problem.

    I don’t really care that the GAA have clubs who celebrate terrorism, that is their perogative or that others in the AOH celebrate their culture I don’t have to get involved with those things that really are no concern of mine. I don’t go looking for IRA flags and commemorations that I could find insulting I shrug my shoulders and drive on by, I hope I am a little better than that.

    Live and let live and get the chips off your shoulders, this is the 21st century and it is time to move on and let others be what they want to be as long as it is peaceful. Respect for others’ culture is part of any democracy using others’ culture as weapon to beat them with is not.

  • lib2016

    “Live and let live…”

    That’s precisely what most of NI society is asking the OO to do, instead of taking over our public places and frightening us out of the country.

    The Defenders filled a role in the society of their day but that society has gone and so have the Defenders. Unless the Orders can succeed in their attempts at finding a new role they should do the same.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    lib2016

    Exactly – public places are for the public not just the part of the public that you decide reach your standards and beliefs.

    The OO have role whether you accept it or not, it is a 200+ year old organisation that is part of the unionist tradition and culture – you seem unable to grasp that it doesn’t have to suit what you want – it is not there to be what you want it to be, it is there to be what unionists want it to be.

  • lib2016

    Frustrated Democrat,

    This is a hugely simplified version of a complicated process but the Defenders were faction fighters and they were replaced by political parties. Its called democracy.

    Which role do the Orders see themselves in?

  • Frustrated Democrat

    lib2016

    The point is it devisive for you, not for unionists it is very cohesive for them and always has been, look at the attendances and the number who take part – why should they change their culture and hertitage to suit you.

    Put another way, would you change your culture and hertitage to suit unionists because they thought they were devisive? e.g. republicans and nationalists wanting a United Ireland is devisive, should they give that up?

  • Frustrated Democrat

    lib2016

    You just don’t see the point.

    Why are there an Independence Day parades in America?
    Why are there Republican parades at Easter?
    Why is there an AOH parade
    Why are there parades anywhere?

    The relevance of the OO is that it celebrates protestant heritage and culture and is supported by a very large majority of the protestants who live in Northern Ireland.

    Are they not allowed to that in the way they think fit?

    Do they have to do it in a way that pleases you?

    I am sorry in my democracy as long as people are peaceful they can celebrate their culture how and when they please. I don’t attend the OO parades but I support the right of those who want to to do so along as they want to, just as I support the rights of all the other peaceful parades, republican, nationalist, unionist or just parades.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Frustrated Democrat: “The relevance of the OO is that it celebrates protestant heritage and culture and is supported by a very large majority of the protestants who live in Northern Ireland. ”

    Ain’t it funny, then, how these Protestant celebrations always seem to need to be performed in a Catholic neighborhood… Catholic and Nationalist icons mysteriously finding their way onto Orange bonfires…

    Yeah, real “live and let live.”

    Y’can pull the other leg now.

  • Prince Eoghan

    FD.

    You have consistantly ignored every point I have made. “You petulantly bang on about no-one should tell the OO what to do” I believe that my points have refuted that solitary point.
    This is a cracker though;

    “I am sorry in my democracy as long as people are peaceful they can celebrate their culture how and when they please. I don’t attend the OO parades but I support the right of those who want to to do so along as they want to, just as I support the rights of all the other peaceful parades, republican, nationalist, unionist or just parades.”

    After ignoring every point put to you today, to then post this is delusional. Do you even have an argument?

  • Greenflag

    Burning pictures of Catholic victims of loyalist murders and Irish symbols is Unionism’s/Orange Order/ Loyalism’s way of demonstrating how anti Irish they are. These rituals show off protestantism and British unionism in a very favourable light in the eyes of the rest of the world that might look in.

    I have yet to hear of any Unionist politician , DUP or UUP condemn this kind of behaviour .

    Perhaps Irish Nationalists need to include the burning of pictures of protestant victims of republican violence as well as burning Union Jacks in their remembrance rituals . I’m sure Unionist politicians would keep their mouths shut and make no comment on such festivites at a Catholic bonfire night?

    We can then add parity of symbol and icon burning to all the other parities of the NI parody 🙁

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Frustrated Democrat: “I am sorry in my democracy as long as people are peaceful they can celebrate their culture how and when they please. I don’t attend the OO parades but I support the right of those who want to to do so along as they want to, just as I support the rights of all the other peaceful parades, republican, nationalist, unionist or just parades. ”

    So many mistakes, so little time…

    First of all, you do not live in a democracy. Yes, you have elections, but they are for representatives. Democracy is five wolves and three sheep voting on dinner. Given its history, you’re right, what with the gerrymandering and the intimidation, its been a very sorry “democracy.”

    Secondly, they have the right to march. That said, like all rights, it is not unlimited. Your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose. As such, the OO’s right to march is tempered by other folks rights to live in peace.

  • Nevin

    Dread, nationalists opted out at the time of the formation of the state, they indulged in a form of self-imposed apartheid; indeed some nationalist councils went further, they ‘affiliated’ to the Dail. Unionists in the south, on the other hand, offered the new state a fair wind, yet got a raw deal for their pains.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    The points put to me to day have all said the same thing – the group that those posting don’t agree with has to do what those posting say.

    The answer is no they don’t, they have their culture and their rights and just because you don’t accept it doesn’t mean that you have any rights over them, just as they have no rights over you.

    You want to pick on some parts of what happens and expand it to the whole. It just doesn’t wash anymore in your little propaganda washing machine that you rely on to clean up your totalitarian opinions.

    The OO is part of protestant culture and has been for 200 years, you wish them to change that to what you want it to be – sorry that isn’t how democracy works.

    As for fear and alarm that has only come about by consistent undermining and demonisation of the organisastion by republicans in an attempt to garner votes. If republicans ignored the parades for an hour or two there would be no confrontations and no riots. It is obvious who controls the riots after this years parades, the violence and attacks on parades can be turned on and off at the will of SF/IRA, where was the fear and alarm this year when it suited SF that there be none?

  • Nevin

    lib2016, the ‘Catholic-Ireland’ Sinner movement probably shares some of the characteristics of the earlier mainly Catholic Defenders. It’s my impression that the paramilitary godfathers have supplanted the clergy as key decision influencers in mainly Catholic communities.

  • Prince Eoghan

    FD.

    No-one seems to be getting through to you. So how about this for a scenario, help to spell it out to you a wee bit. There are also some generalisations here, but bear with me;

    I have set up an organisation that, as part of it’s principles is extremely belligerant towards Protestantism and all it’s forms. Now we are intent on marching through as many Unionist areas as possible with all manner of aggressive antagonistic behavior. It just so happens that some of our number used to, and may again in the future, target Protestants for the express purposes of intimidation and often murder. Oh and if this is not enough, during the big festival we will have the day before our big day we will mock your dead, you know the ones we have killed.

    “If republicans ignored the parades for an hour or two there would be no confrontations and no riots.”

    Swap Republicans for Unionists, now how about ignoring us for a few hours? honest we will be as quiet as possible. Well?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Eoghan: “No-one seems to be getting through to you. So how about this for a scenario, help to spell it out to you a wee bit. There are also some generalisations here, but bear with me; ”

    Lost cause, mate — Frustrated is doing the blog equivalent of puttin ghis hands over his ears and screaming “LALALALALALALA” over and over. Like the kid at the checkout counter, he wants the candy and nothing anyone says will distract him from his monomaniacal focus of getting his way. As a minimum, the poster is in denial — how does one ignore a “thud and blunder” band outside one’s home?

  • Prince Eoghan

    Dread.

    In my attempt at playing the ball, I had to delete the bit where I said this is how I usually get through to my young children. By reversing the situation, seeing their faces light up with realisation, nah it is just an attempt, feeble granted to elicit some kind of meaningfull response. Fingers crossed.

  • tony

    “The OO is part of protestant culture and has been for 200 years, you wish them to change that to what you want it to be – sorry that isn’t how democracy works.

    I still don’t understand how the commemoration of loyalist terrorists at orange order parades is cultural.

    What is cultural about commemorating

    Shankill butcher Bobby’basher’Bates or uvf commander John Bingham or sectarian killer Brian Robinson or Sean Graham’s bookmaker killer Joe Bratty etc…

    “sorry that isn’t how democracy works.”

    Is it democratic to march past or through areas were the relatives or family members of those murdered by the killers mentioned above (and commemorated by the orange order) live.

    Its a bit like telling the family and community were Stephen Lawrence lived that the bnp have the right to march through Eltham with banners commemorating and glorifying those responsible for his murder.

    Would that march be approved or tolerated, i think not.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Eoghan: “In my attempt at playing the ball, I had to delete the bit where I said this is how I usually get through to my young children. By reversing the situation, seeing their faces light up with realisation, nah it is just an attempt, feeble granted to elicit some kind of meaningfull response.”

    Ok… as one of the not yet married, I don’t ahve that advantage.