A Republican’s Thoughts on the Marching Season

In the run up to this year’s 12th July, I initiated a number of threads challenging unionists to tackle the sectarian and triumphalist aspects of the pinnacle of the annual loyalist Marching Season. The responses were (unsurprisingly, some might say) lively and most managed to address the substantive issues raised in a thoughtful manner.
In a similar vein, I’m throwing out this thread and would be particularly interested in comments regardless of your political baggage.
As Marching Season’s go, this has been one of the best in terms of the absence of political and civil unrest- though, as a number of threads have pointed out, the low level sectarianism continues in the form of attacks on Orange Halls, GAA properties and attacks and threats against individuals- not to mention the continuance of the many sectarian practices associated with the 11th Night bonfires (burning of flags, political party posters and prominent display of sectarian slogans (KAT) on bonfires etc.)

Once again, as was the case last year, the relatively peaceful marching season has left a mood of quiet optimism in the air. Whilst some have got carried away with regards to the tourist potential of the 12th July, there is no doubt that many within unionism appear to be eager to transform the day to effectively close the chapter on the violent era of communal instability often precipitated by contentious marches and sectarian incidents preceding the marches.

The decision by the British Government and many local government councils to use public funds as a means of enticing unionism and the Loyal Orders to favourably address the agenda for change remains 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- though, in my opinion, the signs are good – at least in relation to the 12th July, if not the 11th Night yet.

For nationalists, the funding of 11th Night bonfires is particularly galling, given that these often incorporate the burning of posters of nationalist and catholic leaders, not to mention the burning of the National flag of Ireland. 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.

One of the first signs that unionist politicians are serious about assuming the leadership role necessary to expedite the process of reforming/ transforming the 11th/12th July will be when politicians unequivocally speak against the sectarian and illegal aspects of the bonfire culture, if not against the entire event in itself. The continuing refusal of unionist political leaders to robustly condemn, and distance themselves from, the sectarian dimension of the 11th Night bonfire is an abdication of leadership which is only compounded by the blind eye turning that goes on when bonfires are sited on roads, car parks or beside homes and end up costing thousands of pounds of damage annually.

One striking feature of the many complaints registered to phone-in programmes and newspapers this year is the number of local residents (and thereby most likely unionists) who have been compelled to register their annoyance at the negative consequences of specific bonfires, something which should encourage unionist politicians to show more assertive leadership with regards to these unacceptable practices.

The government funding for the optimistically (and there’s nothing wrong with that) 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 in the past, 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 as a result of the community moving decisively away from the destructive bonfire culture- in its place developed 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.

Indeed, this year’s Feile an Phobail will include amongst its guest speakers and panellists Edwin Poots, Eoghan Harris and Desmond Rea, who have agreed to attend the annual ‘Talk Back’ debate, each of whom it can reasonably be expected will prove quite adept at providing a unionist ‘take’ on political developments here before an overwhelmingly nationalist public audience. There will undoubtedly remain a strong underlying nationalist/ republican ethos behind the August community festival culture across Belfast, but by incorporating such events an important message is sent out to the host community, as well as the unionist community, that contrasts starkly with that sent out to nationalists over the 11th-12th July period.

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 last year. 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. This year, when posed with a similar question, Belfast UUP councillor Chris McGimpsey resorted to the fanciful assertion that no one should feel threatened by Orange parades and all should be able to enjoy them.

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- as our own Fair Deal put it so incisively, “it’s an Ulster Prod thing.”

Orangefest must be less about becoming all-inclusive (an impossible goal in the foreseeable future) 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- in this regard, Barry White’s observations of the 12th parade in Belfast this year indicate that progress is being made on this front. Essentially, as one Scandinavian tourist incisively put it when questioned during a UTV vox pop outside the City Hall last year, 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 and ‘Orangefest’ will have transformed itself into a cross between the nationalist festival culture and a much more dynamic protestant version of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians: the latter being 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 flow of funding 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. The spectacle of unionist councillors standing in front of television cameras and pointing to a child waving a tricolour at next year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations as evidence of why it is unwelcoming for protestants becomes all the more ridiculous when it is discovered that the same political leaders have no qualms in funding events over a 24 hour period in July when enough flags are waved and burned to keep a Chinese sweat shop in business until the next year’s bonfires are lit!

Living in our deeply segregated society, it can become easy to forget how deep and raw the political and cultural divide remains. Indeed, demographic shifts in the past 35 years have often been determined by a desire to reside in an area reflecting the single identity culture we are comfortable with as much as by coercive means. Where the two communities do co-exist (the much vaunted ‘shared spaces,’) it is often deemed polite to suppress overt expressions of one’s political and cultural identity. Likewise in the ‘mixed’ workplace, it is all too easy to adhere to Heaney’s advice of ‘saying nothing’ when the hot potato of local politics rears its head.

The marching season destroys the polite fiction of a mutually tolerant and harmonious society in its abrasive and often crude expression of the British and protestant identity by violating the unwritten rules that have developed around ‘the shared space.’

For nationalists, it poses a challenging question: are we able to respect the outward exhibition of the unionist tradition, albeit stripped of the sectarian cloak too often accompanying it?

It is a particularly challenging poser for nationalists as, unlike catholics/ nationalists in general, Orangemen have never bought into the idea of suppressing the expression of their identity for the utilitarian benefits of dysfunctionally mixed communities. In this, history has provided the Loyal Orders with a distinct advantage.

Whilst unionism’s fall from ascendancy in the six counties has been a necessary but yet symbolically painful one for the collective unionist community, one of the legacies of its bygone supremacy is the prominent location of Orange halls in villages, towns and cities across the six counties. Whether predominantly catholic or protestant, time was that the Order- and Unionism’s- writ ran supreme and the sullen catholic and nationalist community limply accepted the proud, in your face display of unionist colours from their main thoroughfares.

Essentially, there is no counterpart to the Orange Order within nationalism; whilst many like to hold up the GAA as a green reflection of the Order, in the latter’s explicit and assertive expression of a political identity it has no equal in our context. Consequently, nationalists- and some unionists- prefer to believe that, in the interests of maintaining civic harmony, a culture of ‘neutrality’ is best in regard to the visible manifestation of political identity.

Nationalists have good reason for believing that reciprocal respect for public manifestations of the Irish political/ cultural identity in ‘the shared space’ would be less than forthcoming. In this, the example of the first republican parade in Ballymena in 2005 is instructive.

Having traditionally shunned the somewhat crude notion of challenging unionists to tolerate a republican parade as a flip side for the many occasions in which the poser is put to nationalist communities, the reaction to the dissident republican parade on that occasion confirmed to nationalists that they were right all along to believe unionists were asking a degree of tolerance from nationalists that they would never contemplate extending to nationalists.

In the event, the unequivocal demands for no parade from unionist politicians and the wave of violence directed at catholic persons, homes and properties across north Antrim merely confirmed the long-held suspicions that demands for tolerance ran in only one direction.

Skip forward in time to this year’s 12th and the annual heightening of tension when loyalists use the Marching Season as an excuse to erect flags in mixed residential or even majority nationalist areas. Perhaps the most revealing example this year was to be found in Newcastle, Co. Down, where loyalists erected flags along the main street in the majority nationalist town. Defending the action, the DUP MLA, Jim Wells, argued that the ‘one-third’ unionist population of the town should have the right to celebrate their culture in such a manner. Perhaps Jim is right; but would Jim and his colleagues in the DUP be so quick to assert the right of the Larne, Ballymena or indeed Lisburn nationalist minorities to erect the Irish National flag along the main thoroughfares in those towns where they form a similar-sized minority? I thought not….

Ironically, it could be the case that the key to unlocking the door to summer marching season’s characterised by long-term stability lay in developing universal acceptance that ‘equality’ is better than ‘neutrality,’ given that the latter demands a restriction on political and cultural expression all around. But this would demand a quantum leap from unionists, many of whom (if Slugger’s contingent are to be believed) still hold to the line that ‘Ulster is British’ and there should be no acceptance of the political symbols of Irish nationalism.

The challenge to unionism must be to respect and accommodate the political expression of the Irish identity: to this day, in spite of accepting the principle of a divided society manifest in the complicated consociational framework of our new political dispensation, there remains a meanness in unionist politicians refusal to respect the place of the Irish tricolour as the national flag of more than 40% of their neighbours residing in the state.

From burning the Irish National flag to labelling it ‘foreign,’ unionists have yet to endorse the natural consequences of a society deeply divided along political lines- namely, that the political emblems of both communities be afforded official legitimacy.

One of the ironies of the present process is that the successful decommissioning and dismantling of the oppressive loyalist paramilitary culture will present unionists with the challenge of tolerating emboldened nationalist minority communities across the north.

I recently read a post-graduate’s research study into the attitudes of a minority catholic population in a county Antrim town. What became clear from the research is that the community have become accustomed to suppressing their Irish identity for fear of attack from loyalists. Those who’d even thought of establishing a GAA club in the area were too afraid.

Yet, if the peace process develops as is to be hoped, then the loyalist threat which suppressed expressions of Irish identity in majority unionist and shared spaces will rescind to the extent that will allow for a renewed and confident expression of the Irish nationalist identity to flourish- something that will challenge tolerance levels within unionism. In this regard, it is fascinating to compare how unionists in minority communities like Derry have remained able to assert their collective identity whereas nationalists residing in equal numbers (in percentage terms) in minority communities like Larne, Ballymena and Lisburn were simply too afraid to follow in a similar manner.

From a nationalist perspective, it is important that our political leaders continue to condemn attacks on Orange Order Halls, other property and persons, calling for tolerance of expression of the British/ protestant identity consistent with the simple but powerful message that cultivating a society tolerant of cultural and political diversity requires mutual acceptance of each other’s equally legitimate right to exist. As I have pointed out on Slugger before, unionists have failed to either respond to or sufficiently acknowledge the significant development in republican thinking behind the endorsement of the ‘neutrality or equality’ policy regarding symbols and emblems being flown from civic buildings in the north, with all that entails for respecting the ‘Britishness’ of unionists as Alex Maskey notably did during his tenure as Belfast Mayor. Once that is achieved, successfully overcoming disputes about the manner of that expression, which lay behind the heightened tension across the north every summer, may become a redundant matter in time.

  • Dewi

    Hells bells enough – I’m going to bed – seriouisly Chris that’s a little long.

  • me

    Why didn’t you write a book, I’m bloody not wading thru that.

  • andy town

    enjoyable piece Chris-The West Belfast Festival reference was interesting especially with the attendance of Eoghan Harris-would love a ticket for that debate.
    Watch the Newcastle and Dundrum situation where bonfires and parades were imposed against the majority nationalist community. Intimidation against nationalists in Dundrum is continuing following an altercation on the eleventh night. The silence of certain unionist politicians is deafening.

  • inuit_g

    Hi Chris, a very comprehensive post, clearly you’ve given this a lot of thought.

    You make a number of good points, and some others which I would disagree with.

    Hopefully we’re all moving towards the point where we can enjoy greater appreciation of each ‘others’ cultural expression.

  • Sam Hanna

    I hope Chris will be consistent and urge the withdrawl of all Government funding for groups like the GAA, Irish Language Groups, Catholic Schools and tax benefits for the Catholic Church which only this week re-inforced by Benny the deep sectarianism of its views concerning the ecclesiolgy of Protestant Churches. I would hope he would take the same line on the “Soldiers Song” being played at IRFU matches etc also.

  • spiritof07

    a 2,605 word article. FFS Chris, go for a walk.

  • Cahal

    “withdrawl of all Government funding for groups like the GAA, Irish Language Groups, Catholic Schools and tax benefits for the Catholic Church ”

    Perhaps when they start to burn union flags, erect and burn the names of dead protestants and unionist politicians, and have paramilitary shows of strength before games and class…..then we’ll get back to your point.

    Things may be getting better but society is far from normal in the six, particularly around the loyalist marching season.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Sam

    Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough in the piece. I’m against withdrawing funding as it’s clearly having an effect with regards to the 12th July; not so sure about the bonfires, though the leadership on that one must really come from within the community.

    To all
    Apologies for the length of the piece- I’ve been adding to it bit-by-bit over the past month. I’d thought about following Fair Deal’s lead and cut it into a number of smaller threads, but what’s done is done now….

    AT
    You don’t need a ticket, just arrive early to avoid the standing room only scenario (check website but I’m pretty sure the ‘Talk Back’ is on the Wednesday @ 7pm/ 7.30pm in St. Louise’s.)

  • bob

    sam

    I presume you will support the removal of all financial support from the Irish Football Association because of its support for the uvf during the Glentoran v Cliftonville game at the oval, or making a Ballymena United game available for the DUP to broadcast and use the facilities of the club for political reasons at the recent elections.

    How can we fund the Irish Football Associatiion when it ignored the MP for South Belfast’s request to condemn supporters who were using IFA(our wee country) flags to mark out loyalist territory & intimidate the local Catholic community.

    How can we fund the IFA when it refuses to condemn the flying of n.i football flags alongside those of the uvf & uff, as is the case every loyalist season.

    If the IFA are looking funding, they might consider why its products are being sold openly by paramilitaries in an East Belfast shop.(as featured on a recent paramilitary racketeering feature on utv)

    perhaps the biggest image problem the n.i football team has, is when, the new South East Antrim Brigadeer of the UFF is shown on tv wearing his new n.i tracksuit.

    Everyone welcome !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Cruimh

    Chris – there’s potential for dozens of blogs here.

    I’ll ask you about this part.

    “churlish to do so- as unionists look today when they rather spitefully attack the Feile an Phobail”

    You rightly focused in on, and condemned, one banner – Joe Bratty. But how can you accuse unionists of being churlish about Feil an phobail?

    An event at the Felons club ?

    The Bobby Sands cup – to “pay tribute to Bobby Sands and his fellow hunger strikers” ?

    Isn’t asking unionists to pay tribute to the hunger strikers as ridiculous as expecting nationalists to feel comfortable at an event where Joe Bratty is remembered by a banner ?

  • rob

    ‘Isn’t asking unionists to pay tribute to the hunger strikers as ridiculous as expecting nationalists to feel comfortable at an event where Joe Bratty is remembered by a banner ?’

    Isn’t the difference that unionists & Orangemen expect to be able to march through Nationalist communities with thier paramilitary banners commemorating their heroes of the uff & uvf.

  • Cruimh

    “Isn’t the difference that unionists & Orangemen expect to be able to march through Nationalist communities with thier paramilitary banners commemorating their heroes of the uff & uvf. ”

    Nope – that’s inaccurate and that’s not what I was asking Chris.

    Chris quite reasonably pointed out the Bratty banner ( that is a singular and one is certainly one too many ) – how can he criticise unionists for looking askance at being asked to “pay tribute to Bobby Sands and his fellow hunger strikers” ?

    My point is that ALL of Feile an phobail is as contaminated by things such a having an event at the Felons Club and commemorating the 10 convicted terrorists as all orange events are contaminated by ths Bratty banner.

  • McGrath

    My point is that ALL of Feile an phobail is as contaminated by things such a having an event at the Felons Club and commemorating the 10 convicted terrorists as all orange events are contaminated by ths Bratty banner.

    Posted by Cruimh on Jul 22, 2007 @ 02:07 AM

    And that is why regular folks take f’all to do with either event.

    I’m convinced Northern Ireland is being held hostage by the mind set of less that 5% off the total population.

  • Cruimh

    “I’m convinced Northern Ireland is being held hostage by the mind set of less that 5% off the total population.”

    That’s a good point McGrath 🙂

    Incidentally – that (“pay tribute to Bobby Sands and his fellow hunger strikers” ) is a quote from the Feile an Phobail website.

  • Harry Flashman

    Actually quite a reasonable and thought provoking post from Chris and not much I would disagree with. I would quibble with one or two points.

    The idea that disrespecting the national flag and traditions of the other community is limited to one section of the population (or indeed in Slugger as Chris implies) is clearly bogus. The Union Flag is certainly NOT respected among Nationalists or here in the columns of Slugger O’Toole, it is regularly described as “The Butcher’s Apron”, burnt and descrated by Nationalists and Queen Elizabeth II is frequently referred to derisorily as “Betty Windsor” by posters like Chris himself. Certainly “Ulster is British” is asserted trenchantly by Unionsists but Republicans have never been heard to say “You know Northern Ireland could reasonably be regarded as part of the United Kingdom”, it’s always “the Six Counties are occupied Irish counties, Brits Out!”. There’s nothing wrong with a vigorous assertion of your political viewpoint of course but let’s not pretend only one side does it, eh?

    As regards the protestant community in Derry, I fear Chris has a rather rosey view of that. Check out how many protestant owned businesses there are in the west bank (hint you won’t need many fingers of one hand), or schools, clubs or churches, in a town that up until thirty years ago was full of them. The Derry prods keep a very low profile and explicit (as opposed to the dreary day to day hum drum low level implicit) sectarianism against protestants is thankfully non-existant, but I am familiar with that community and in private they don’t believe that life in Derry is all a bowl of cherries you know.

  • Portadown

    Three questions arise before I can fully respond to your article, Chris.

    Where do you live (I mean generally, not your door number or street name)?

    What age are you?

    Did you ever experience the fear caused by 20,000 plus Orangemen and their various supporters (UVF,LVF,UDA,etc) surrounding and literally beseiging your neighbourhood for days on end? (Check all the media reports re:Drumcree from the late 90’s)

  • McGrath

    Harry F:

    “The idea that disrespecting the national flag and traditions of the other community is limited to one section of the population (or indeed in Slugger as Chris implies) is clearly bogus. The Union Flag is certainly NOT respected among Nationalists or here in the columns of Slugger O’Toole, it is regularly described as “The Butcher’s Apron”, burnt and descrated by Nationalists and Queen Elizabeth II is frequently referred to derisorily as “Betty Windsor” by posters like Chris himself.”

    Please provide verifiable evidence whereby National Flags etc are not respected by ALL of one particular community.

    I am a member of one of Northern Ireland’s two communities, while I may not embrace the other communities symbology and cultural difference, I don’t burn the other communities flag, I don’t refer to their leadership in derogatory terms.

    I know I am not in a minority with my community, are you? Your carpet bombing comments are part of the problem.

  • Harry Flashman

    Oh for heaven’s sake McGrath stop nit picking!

    I never said ALL nationalists disrespect the British flag, the implication of my post should obviously make it clear that it is disrespected by many nationalists, what proportion I don’t particularly care and is anyway not relevant to my point.

    Have you something constructive to add?

  • Cahal

    Harry, at a political level, I think SF have adopted a sensible policy of ‘both flags or neither’. I guess this shows a level of respect (at the leadership level anyway) for the union flag – Maskey himself had both flags in his office during his days as major of Belfast.

    Unfortunately we’ll be waiting a while for a reciprocal gesture, if ever.

    It is really disturbing to see thousands of loyalists attending these ‘burn anything Irish, Kill All Taigs’ events every year. Particularly when you see so many kids at them being brain washed.

    OK loyalists, we get it, you hate us. Get over it.

  • McGrath

    Harry:

    Here yo go, you typed it…………..

    “The Union Flag is certainly NOT respected among Nationalists”

    More to the point is you categorized all nationalists commentors on Slugger O’Toole in one post!

    Would you agree now that not all nationalists / unionists are not cut from the same respective cloths? I don’t view it as nit picking, as the very same nit picking has kept apart two very similar societies.

    Such sweeping commentary is not useful, do you now care to retract that comment?

  • As Marching Season’s go, this has been one of the best in terms of the absence of political and civil unrest- though, as a number of threads have pointed out, the low level sectarianism continues in the form of attacks on Orange Halls, GAA properties and attacks and threats against individuals

    Chris,

    You haven’t put a link in for the attack on GAA properties. There were a couple flagged up on the SF site on the 18th, but SF have put these down to “vandalism”, so I’m assuming no sectarian motive.

    Were there any sectarian attacks on GAA halls over the 12th period?

  • Sunningdale

    An interesting piece from Chris. From a personal perspective living in South Belfast I would say that, compared to where we were three/four years ago, things are clearly getting better. Three years ago the crossroads at Newton Park and the Saintfield Road were adorned with UDA flags for weeks and there were Union/Ulster flags on every lamp post on Newton Park (a genuinely mixed area)for most of the summer; much to the annoyance of most of the locals.

    This year there were far fewer flags, they were non paramilitary and were up for only a few days. Perhaps we are witnessing the beginning of a more sensitively managed Twelfth.

    I wonder how much is due to a sense that, just maybe, we actually have found a peaceful settlement that the vast majority of all our citizens (regardless of background or affiliation) can live with?

  • It’s really funny that the Tourist Board imagines there is some attraction with watching closet gays prance about in bowler hats and Mary, Queen of the May type sashes. Let’s face it: the worshippers of the Dutch faggot are yesterday’s people.

  • Pacman

    A thought-provoking piece Chris, for Nationalists and Unionists alike.

    I can’t ever see Orangefest becoming inclusive in a place like Newry where the parades are simply ignored by the majority of the population. (In a similar vein, the Easter parades don’t attract any Unionist interest – or these days, little Nationalist interest). They happen early in the morning and cause little disruption (as far as I am aware) and therefore have ceased to become an issue for most ordinary joes. The only parade that attracts any sizeable crowd down here these days is the St Patrick one and whilst the organisers endeavour to ensure that no exclusive symbols are part of the parade itself, they obviously have no control over the spectators. Whether that means that Unionists don’t participate, I’m unsure. But at the end of the day, it’s hard to celebrate your Irishness without displaying your Irishness.

  • fair_deal

    The Irish Tricolour is displayed in NI already (the legal barrier was removed decades ago) along with all forms of Irish culture many in receipt of financial support from the state. Plus a political settlement that guarantees the inclusion of parties representing that identity in government.

    Will it be from official buildings? No. You get that if you ever succeed in getting a United Ireland. I am afraid accepting the principle of consent has a few everyday consequences which means the Union flag gets flown every so often.

    As for Newcastle, it is the first time I have noticed a unionist adopting an explicit minority rights argument. It creates challenges for both communities for example nationalism jumps between minority rights and majoritarianism with no difficulty e.g. a nationalist majority in Newcastle means no Unionist flags and a nationalist minority in Stoneyford means no Unionist flags.

    There will be contradictions as our communities may be willing to accept and vote for sharing up at the big house but in the past they have shown themselves less willing to do so in their daily lives.

    The issues around the 17th March are the issues of single identity v shared space. Patrick is not the exclusive property of Irish nationalism.

    “natural consequence”

    I realise determinism is a major feature of nationalist thought but it doesn’t fly. The deal is done (for good or ill) you want anything more start bargaining don’t expect. If you want it you have to offer something in return to your partners – and I mean tangibles.

  • páid

    Two thousand odd words, carefully written.

    A fine testament to an Irish summer.

  • Dewi

    The Feile an Phobail schedule looks pretty good. Highlights Marin Mansergh on the 11th and the Buzzcocks on 12th! Finally finished your article Chris – I have to say that the emotional intensity of even posters on this site over the period is frightening. A place to avoid in early July.

  • Maud’s gone

    Fair Deal

    “Patrick is not the exclusive property of Irish nationalism.” – of course not, he was Welsh!

  • fair_deal

    maud’s gone

    He was Romano-British plus there are a number of credible sites for Bannavem Taburniae. What we know as Wales and its associated identity was basically a post-roman development.

  • fair_deal

    addition

    “plus there are a number of credible sites for Bannavem Taburniae” – not just in Wales.

  • Chris Donnelly

    The issues around the 17th March are the issues of single identity v shared space. Patrick is not the exclusive property of Irish nationalism.

    FD

    No one claimed him to be. But that doesn’t mean unionists should be permitted to determine just how Irish people wish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day- as their political leaders attempt to do in Belfast by restricting expressions of an Irish identity.

    Bit like me arguing that nationalists should declare their willingness to celebrate the 12th as a shared celebration alongside unionists and be permitted to demand no display of union flags or any other items identified with unionism/ loyalism.

    On the matter of minority/ majority rights, you are correct to point out that unionists rarely resort to the minority rights argument. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t assumed regularly.

    The repercussions of the minority rights with regard to the display of flags/ emblems, in a reciprocal context, would be Lisburn, Ballymena and Larne adorned with Irish National flags and open to republican parades.

    The Ballymena parade (see thread) provided a clear indication of where unionists stand on that.

    Until unionism deals with this unwillingness to accomodate political expressions of the Irish nationalist identity in precisely the same manner they are seeking nationalists to accomodate expressions of the British/ protestant identity, your complaints will fall on deaf ears.

  • fair_deal

    “No one claimed him to be. But that doesn’t mean unionists should be permitted to determine just how Irish people wish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day- as their political leaders attempt to do in Belfast by restricting expressions of an Irish identity.”

    We aren’t claiming it as ours but Unionists are to have no input to how to ensure it is shared. Huh?

    When a celebration is organised with the symbols of Irish nationalism (including free republican prisoner flags) and duffing up school kids it looks like they are claiming it to be.

    “Bit like me arguing that nationalists should declare their willingness to celebrate the 12th as a shared celebration alongside unionists and be permitted to demand no display of union flags or any other items identified with unionism/ loyalism.”

    No it is not like that at all as they are not comparable events or histories of celebration.

    There is no sustained history of nationalists marking the twelfth nor should they be compelled to do so simply because others do.

    However, there is a history of people from a British, protestant or Unionist perspective recognising the importance of Patrick and marking the event.

    Hence why it is an issue of shared space not single identity space.

    “The Ballymena parade (see thread) provided a clear indication of where unionists stand on that.”

    If you mean this thread
    http://www.sluggerotoole.com/index.php/dup_hypocrisy_over_right_to_march/

    You conveniently omit that SF and the SDLP opposed it as well.

    It was also a contradiction that I described as:
    “Just plain wrong.”

    I can admit when Unionism contradicts itself and admit when it is wrong.

    “Until unionism deals with this unwillingness to accomodate political expressions of the Irish nationalist identity ”

    There have been the not insubtstantial accomodations of power-sharing, NSMC etc.

    As nationalist demand removal of Unionist flags no matter what the local circumstances, have a difficulty in not saying sectarian or the b-word any time the Unionist community does something, develop a speech impediment when its the name of the second city/one of the counties, daft ‘here or there’ orders to civil servants lest the cursed words ‘Northern Ireland’ pass their lips, recognising the Royal family etc

    It seems an inability to accomodate ‘political expressions’ is not an exclusively Unionist problem.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Fair Deal

    1. It seems an inability to accomodate ‘political expressions’ is not an exclusively Unionist problem.

    Quite correct, though it is a problem which, while nationalists have proven much more willing to confront- hence the ‘Equality or Neutrality’ policy of Sinn Fein, accomodations such as the various unionist marches within the overwhelmingly nationalist city of Derry (and other similarly majority nationalist towns such as Newry) which all contrast with unionism’s refusal to reciprocate, regardless of your own ‘personal’ position.

    2. Regarding the recognition of the names of cities/ geographic entities, that’s more a problem for unionists, who insist on being offended when nationalists refer to ‘Derry’ or ‘the north of Ireland’ when nationalists are as entitled to use those phrases as unionists to refer to londonderry or northern ireland (which nicely brings us back to the problem of acknowledging the equal legitimacy of traditions.)

    3. “No it is not like that at all as they are not comparable events or histories of celebration.

    “There is no sustained history of nationalists marking the twelfth nor should they be compelled to do so simply because others do.”

    Right back at you regarding St. Patrick’s Day. Indeed, across the globe few people will without direct ties to the north of Ireland will know anything about 12th July; in contrast, very few will not know about celebrations held on March 17th by Irish people across the globe.

    If nationalists in the north wish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as an expression of Irishness, then that is hardly different from unionists using the 12th July to celebrate protestantism/ unionism.

    4. Nationalists do not have a problem with unionists flying flags everywhere, only within what is commonly perceived to be ‘shared spaces’ or majority nationalist areas. Unionists, as I pointed out in my piece, have yet to seriously even countenance reciprocating tolerance towards the flying of the Irish National flag in ‘shared spaces’ or majority unionist areas, so this is hardly a justifiable unionist grievance- confronting this and seeking a permanent resolution would require unionism explicitly accepting the equal legitimacy of both traditions, a challenge unionism has yet to take seriously.

  • Outsider

    Chris

    You have tried to construct a reasonbly extensive thread and I appreciate that however there are a few points I would like to raise.

    Over the 12th period you have claimed that Orange Halls have been attacked and negated this by highlighting some of the thugery on display at bonfires, attacks on gaa clubs and pointing out that a paramilitary banner was on parade in Belfast.

    First of all the attacks on gaa clubs have been described as general vandilism rather than sectarian attacks.

    Secondly considering there were over 80,000 orangemen/women on parade the banner that you have continually mentioned has been overplayed, it should not have been there and work is going on to have it removed for next years 12th.

    Your demands for bonfires are unrealistic, Irish tricolours and Sinn Fein/IRA regalia will always be burned and I like many others in my community am completely in favour of this. The references to KAT however are a disgrace and have no place at bonfires.

    Finally on these threads in slugger people Nationalists are very quick to cliam that there is a place for Protestants in a ‘shared Ireland’ but there is no place for their culture such as Orangeism. What I would like to point out is that OO since the ceasefires has only managed to get larger and it will still be here and going strong in 100 years from now. People need to accept that this is an important part of our cuture and stop unfairly ridiculing it.

  • kensei

    No way I could tackle all that but

    1. I think you are wrong that the 12th can’t open up, Chris. It is an expression of a purely Unionist identity, but there are plenty of festivals and parades around the world that don’t express my identity and I can enjoy. The National flag has a third and equal pillar of orange. If we are ever to get to a truly United Ireland, then that pillar needs not just respected, but backed.

    The problem is that it is impossible for Nationalism to back the OO and associated activities as it is at the moment. Nationalism needs to narrow down and zone in on the things it sees as problems, and work to get them resolved, rather than a general distaste. And where things have changed, or there are no objections, we should back them and work to hep widen appeal. Is there really any reason we couldn’t cautiously back Ulster Scots?

    2. 11th Night bonfires / funding. The solution is simple. There needs to be a sufficient number of official, well regulated sites and the rest need banned and stamped down on. Never mind the sectarianism, they are an environmental nightmare, and trail down the look of the place for months. Random burning of stuff wouldn’t be tolerated the rest of the year and it shouldn’t be tolerated now. It would probably save money too, some of which could be spent on improving the experience with fireworks and the like.

    3. St Patrick’s Day. There were never parades until Nationalism started organising them, at which point Unionists decided that actually, it was important to them and you couldn’t have any tricolours. It sticks in my craw like nothing else. I have no problems with people celebrating their Irishness in whatever way makes them happy, but if they are using it to block mine thy can piss off.

    4. Feile is looking good this year, and certainly rivals some of the other festivals throughout the year. I think though that while the August Belfast festivals should remain independently organised to retain a community aspect, it might be helpful to advertise (and perhaps fund / get sponsorship) under a single banner to help promote them.

  • kensei

    “Your demands for bonfires are unrealistic, Irish tricolours and Sinn Fein/IRA regalia will always be burned and I like many others in my community am completely in favour of this.”

    Or you know, alternatively, just let Unionism kill itself with stuff like this.

  • Reader

    kensei: St Patrick’s Day. There were never parades until Nationalism started organising them,
    Have you got a date for that? If not, how can you be sure?

  • Cruimh

    Reader – page 50, Material Conflicts – Neil Jarman
    talking of the Ribbonmen –

    ” also prominent in establishing a tradition of paradng in the Catholic community, one which reflected the importance of religion as a marker of collective identity (Wright 1966). It was at this time that St Patrick’s day was confirmed as a popular and specifically catholic event;”

    There’s quite a lot more, but the drift is that

    ” St. Patrick seems to have been co-opted and sectarianised as a Catholic Irish saint, in he same way and at broadly the same time as King William was redefined as a Protestant hero “.

  • Cruimh

    Chris – I’d be interested in your thoughs on what seems to be doube standards over feile an phobail.

  • fair_deal

    “Quite correct, though it is a problem which, while nationalists have proven much more willing to confront”

    1. Have they? Maybe my view is jaded by the nastiness that releases itself any time the OO is mentioned on a slugger thread but I think you are over-estimating the achievements and progress in thinking.
    2. Also you are displaying something of a year zero attitude to Unionism. I have listed a range of things Unionism has accomodated itself to. Unionism is not living in some sort of political/cultural nirvana of hegemony.
    3. Easy to claim but not put into practice eg Londonderry’s name, paramilitary displays (Loyalist = bad but PIRA = A-OK).

    “Right back at you regarding St. Patrick’s Day”

    1. I am afraid that simply displays an ignorance about the Unionist community, Patrick and 17th March.
    2. In Belfast there are Unionist communities who have expressed interest in a shared event.

    “If nationalists in the north wish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as an expression of Irishness,”

    Again another nationalist contradiction. Is it a celebration for all or is it a day for Irish nationalist celebration? It usually gets pitched as the former but if you ask queries you get shouts of denying the latter. The Andytown news editorials were very good at displaying this inconsistency.

    If you want it as an Irish nationalist day say so and seek the funding on that basis and accept that the political trade off for the funding on this basis will be funding for the Twelfth.

    Personally think Patrick’s Day can be something bigger than that but such is life.

    “that’s more a problem for unionists”

    You started so well but maybe stop trying to shift the issue back over the fence and let the self-examination go a little further.

    So when nationalists don’t accomodate Unionist political expressions that is their “entitlement” but if Unionists do it its a “refusal to reciprocate”. Hmmm.

    “accomodations such as the various unionist marches within the overwhelmingly nationalist city of Derry ”

    1. Yes the minorities there have to go and negotiate what nationalists argue in a NI context should be guaranteed to the minority. Minorities that feel so welcome in those places they are generally voting with their feet and leaving. Is that their fault too for seeking ‘offence’? The inclusive city that when Londonderry Unionist mayor said he wished to make the issue of alienation a priority during his term of office it raised an interesting reaction. For example the Derry Journal editorial minimised the issue’s importance claimed a chunk of it was made up and that it was primarily Unionists job to do something about it and that anyway everything is great. Almost reminiscent of the attitude of Unionists to nationalist complaints in the 50’s and 60’s.
    Link
    2. Also your argument ignores the places with no accomodations. In fact this year the number of deals reduced e.g North Belfast.
    3. As for your specific example the organisers in Ballymena didn’t make any attempt at dialogue but then mainstream republicans in North Belfast haven’t worried about that or other things they demand of Unionists either on occasion.
    Link
    Plus Republicans seek to undermine the right to march here while in Scotland this right is worth fighting to establish:
    Link
    4. It may be my own view but it is a start compared with presenting such issues as always a problem of the other.

  • fair_deal

    “Nationalists do not have a problem with unionists flying flags everywhere, only within what is commonly perceived to be ‘shared spaces’ or majority nationalist areas”

    Nice soundbyte but what is a ‘shared space’? How do you define the area to determine majority or minority?

    Again you display the contradiction of nationalism in one context seeking minority protections then seeking to refuse them when in a majority and go on to attack others for inconsistency.

    Some do. Nationalists objected to one flag at IKEA in ‘majority Unionist’ east Belfast claiming only Orange Halls would do such things even though this is their practice across the world. Or does that come under commerical area but where does it start/end? Nationalists objected to a Union flag display for less than an hour at a british legion event in Limavady. The organiser of Ogra Shinn Fein pulling down a Union flag flying along with other flags and boasting about it on their blogsite days after GA called for all activists to reach out to the Unionist tradition. Then there was the Antrim Sinn Fein councillor who showed openess with the declaration:
    “My tradition cannot support the Royal British Legion.”
    Or the SF spokesperson who can’t remember Unionists exist on the island.
    Link

    Look for contradictions in the positions of the respective camps and there are plenty. It can be a bit of fun or maybe even score a cheap but largely meaningless point. The search for advantage usually trumps consistency.

    However, seeking to make it a problem of the other or hide one ideology’s contradictions by claiming their contradictions are less than the other is of no value.

    I would also raise the point that the two main communities need not be carbon copies of one another. Flags bunting arches wall murals etc are a much stronger tradition among Unionism. Regardless of the reasons for this, it doesn’t mean Irish nationalism must emulate/copy/compete with that.

    PS I won’t be able to further this evening if you chose to reply.

  • PeaceandJustice

    A bit more thoughtful thread from Chris Donnelly compared to the usual bigotry! However, it does have some familiar trademarks.

    Republicans have accepted the principle of consent. Therefore, the land you walk on in Northern Ireland is British – which means the Union flag is the official flag with the Northern Ireland flag representing us within the UK.

    Of course it doesn’t mean everyone feels Ulster British – but if they say they accept the principle of consent, we need to see it in action by showing respect to the Union and Northern Ireland flags above other flags and symbols.

    Protestant Unionists have (or were forced to) accept the Irish Republic – including its flags and symbols. Pan-Nationalists need to do the same in Northern Ireland if we are to have a settled peaceful future.

  • innane

    you couldn’t have made this coma inducing drivel any longer, yawn. I stopped reading after 30 secs, and another 30 secs of my life asted reading crap on sluggerotoole.

    get a life mate, it is probably damaging your mental health coming on here as much as you do. (im actually being serious btw)

  • Dewi

    “He was Romano-British plus there are a number of credible sites for Bannavem Taburniae. What we know as Wales and its associated identity was basically a post-roman development.

    Posted by fair_deal on Jul 22, 2007 @ 11:37 AM”

    Patric was Welsh – there is a picture of him on my local rugby club wall kiling snakes mun !

  • Frank Sinistra

    This doesn’t read like a Republican view to me, maybe some kind of noveau Republicanism-lite reflecting the current SF/DUP accommodation, this equal yet competing rights nonsense reads like it’s from an SDLP handbook.

    How any Republican can hold out a cloak of legitimacy to the bigoted, sectarian and intimidation linked organisation that is the OO is beyond me.

    This supremacist organisation has a philosophy centred around maintaining the British occupation in Ireland even worse occupation with a purely Protestant only focus.

    Looking for the positives in this organisation and linking it to legitimate expressions of celebratory Irishness doesn’t read like Republicanism to me.

    Republicanism is now about creating space for supremacist, bigots? Maybe to you.

  • kensei

    “Again another nationalist contradiction. Is it a celebration for all or is it a day for Irish nationalist celebration?”

    I would note that everywhere else on the planet, like it or no, it’s more or less a celebration of the Ireland that Nationalism identifies with – even in say, London. And it’s more than a bit annoying to be left out.

    However the answer to your question is that the problem is that Unionism sees those things as mutually exclusive.

  • T.Ruth

    St.Patrick had no connection with the Roman Catholic Church. He was an evangelical Christian who regarded the Bible as the supreme authority on which Christians should depend.He is a saint whose main missionary work was done in Ulster and it surprises me that his memory is celebrated by the Catholic community in an atmosphere of green beer and Republican flag waving and parading aimed at creating instability and reinforcing division.
    T.Ruth

  • kensei

    “St.Patrick had no connection with the Roman Catholic Church.”

    FFS, seeing as how he was sent to Ireland BY A POPE, this is factually incorrect.

  • kensei

    “Have you got a date for that? If not, how can you be sure?”

    Ah, I must have missed all those parades during my childhood then :rolleyes:

  • Chris Donnelly

    Fair Deal

    Not going to argue with you piece by piece as I’ve a feeling we’re merely covering old ground in a groundhog sort of manner (enjoyable though it is, I’ve a Law and Order re-run to warch…)

    The most interesting aspect of your welcome reply relates to the definition of shared space.

    In that, I’ll make the following observation. In this society, which remains deeply segregated, to the extent that the Housing Executive has come up with its own rules to govern ‘integrated’ housing pilots in Fermanagh and Down, people know when they’re living in a ‘mixed’ area.

    Now, some may not be happy unless and until we get the calculator out and demographically analyse wards/ SOAs to formally declare areas thus, but I’ve a feeling that you know all too well that even areas showing themselves to be mixed at such a level are in effect still segregated, with subtle (and not so subtle) dividing lines to be found everywhere.

    The rule of thumb for the remaining areas, therefore, is more straightforward: would those erecting flags and bunting in mixed residential communities be so accomodating if the flags and bunting in the same location reflected the national identity of the ‘other’ community?

    On the issue of parading, I’m afraid you’re not really moving beyond the shaky ground unionism continues to occupy. The Ballymena example illustrated how unionist political leaders and loyalist paramilitaries reacted to the very notion of a ‘contentious’ nationalist/ republican parade in what they perceived to be ‘their’ area, though it was in actual fact a majority nationalist estate- in that regard, your highlighting of republican opposition to unionist parades across the Peace line in north/ west Belfast is ridiculous.

    On the St. Patrick’s Day matter, unionists wishing to celebrate the day should be encouraged to do so however they see fit, but not to restrict the manner in which nationalists seek to do so (akin to the rest of the world) simply because some unionist political leaders can’t stand the sight of a Tricolour.

    Cruimh
    I believe I answered your query as to the Bratty banner on that specific thread, but I’ll sum it up again.

    The Orange Order have consistently stated they oppose ‘terrorism’/ have no truck with it and, this year in particular, have been presented as providing a family day out at Orangefest which no one could find offensive. Yet, in keeping with previous years, the Order once again sought to parade in contentious areas which heightened tensions in those areas, not least because the eve of the parades witnessed the annual sectarian orgy that is the flag/ poster burning bonfires.

    The relevancy of the banners to loyalist paramilitary figures (Bratty was not alone) is that they illustrate the fallacy of the presentation.

    Now, I mightn’t like the carrying of such banners by Orangemen, but if the parades were restricted to unionist areas and the Order a bit more honest about exactly what it represents and celebrates then I could not possibly object.

    Feile an Phobail is a community festival rooted in the republican/ nationalist community-make no bones about that. It provides a wide breadth of activities and exhibitions, none of which are imposed upon the unionist community in a provocative manner (for instance, no one will be seeking to march from Ligoneil down to Ardoyne carrying banners of republican leaders.) Indeed, in the provision of cross-community discussions and concerts clearly appealing to all, the Feile has been a success in attracting non-nationalists to its list of annual visitors. And, of course, the bonfire tradition, complete with burning of Union flags, has all but disappeared in nationalist areas across the north directly as a conseequence of the leadership provided by political and community leaders in the past 15-20 years.

  • Cruimh

    Weasel words Chris. It’s hypocrisy to snipe at the whole OO Twelfth because of one banner for one terrorist and at the same time complain because unionists are unhappy because one part of feile an phobail commemorates TEN terrorists.

    BOTH are wrong.

    But of course you have to tread carefully because of Gerry’s stunt with Antrim GAA.

  • Chris Donnelly

    “Weasel words Chris. It’s hypocrisy to snipe at the whole OO Twelfth because of one banner for one terrorist and at the same time complain because unionists are unhappy because one part of feile an phobail commemorates TEN terrorists.”

    Cruimh

    Not in the least, Cruimh. Again, the central point remains that nationalists are not seeking to impose their tradition on unionists through any part of the festival. Indeed, in the holding of cross-community discussions/ debates and staging of events appealing to all communities, it has broadened the appeal of the Feile in the past decade whilst remaining at root an outward expression of the nationalist tradition in west Belfast.

    Now, imagine if it was preceded by flag-burning bonfires and the erection of green, white and orange bunting and Irish national flags/ arches across the city and beyond in mixed village/ town centres, as well as parades across the peaceline along the West Circular Road or through Ballysillan from Ligoneil to Ardoyne.

    I’d certainly be willing to bet that, no matter how the Feile was presented in such circumstances, there would be an adverse reaction from unionists to the event.

    But all of those things are absent from the Feile, which is no worse and in fact much better an occasion for it.

    Which is precisely where the Orange Order needs to bring the 12th July.

    Incidentally, I don’t get the GAA quip at the end- care to explain??

  • Cruimh

    Sorry Chris – you are avoiding what is a very simple point – you rightly condemn the Bratty thing. I agree. But then you have the cheek to make snide comments about my community because we dare point out that Feile an Phobail commemorates ten terrorists ? Not to mention the involvement of the Felons club ?

    Feile may have moved away from the “destructive bonfire culture” – but it STILL COMMEMORATES TERRORISM – far more than any bonfire – and as such should not receive one penny of Public funding.

    (The GAA thing – criticising anything that venerate hungerstrikers would be a criticism of Gerry – who dragged the GAA into this a few weeks ago via Antrim Hurling.)

    My community are perfectly entitled to criticise Feile – it’s not in the least spiteful or churlish
    to object to public funding for something that ‘pays tribute’ to TEN Joe Brattys.

  • Chris Donnelly

    (The GAA thing – criticising anything that venerate hungerstrikers would be a criticism of Gerry – who dragged the GAA into this a few weeks ago via Antrim Hurling.)

    How so? If you mean because Gerry called on Antrim supporters to get behind the team, then I really can’t see your objection.

    Got to disagree again on the ‘churlish’ nature of criticising the Feile. It probably stems from the fact you regard republicans like the Hunger Strikers as ‘terrorists’ whilst I, naturally, have a much different opinion. I wouldn’t object to the Loyal Orders holding events in Ferndale House so I don’t see the problem with the Felons Club.

    Incidentally, one of the Feile events this year will include a Political Tour of West Belfast, including a tour of the loyalist side of that part of the city by a guide from the Shankill Road.

    But can you not agree that we’d be in a much more stable and healthy society were the Loyal Orders to transform the manner in which they celebrate their culture into an ‘orange’ version of the Feile: a self-confident outward expression of a community, welcoming debate, celebrating its own culture though taking care to avoid provocation in planning?

  • PeaceandJustice

    innane – “get a life mate [Chris Donnelly], it is probably damaging your mental health coming on here as much as you do. (im actually being serious btw)”

    Would have to agree there.

    We can all see where Chris Donnelly is going with all of this. SF IRA want to move to a situation where Irish Republic flags and symbols are officially treated as equals with the flags and symbols of the country.

    SF IRA are supposed to accept the principle of consent – therefore need to show respect to the Union and Northern Ireland flags above other flags and symbols.

    If they are telling us they don’t really accept the principle of consent, then I suggest the deal is off again. We are having to put up with unrepentant Sinn Fein IRA murdering scum in the Government on the basis of that consent and support for the British rule of law.

  • Cruimh

    Chris – did you really miss the furore about Adams and senior figures in Antrim GAA dressing young children up in “Hunger striker GAA shirts” for a publicity stunt?

    “Got to disagree again on the ‘churlish’ nature of criticising the Feile.”

    We need to deal with the double standards on both sides Chris.

    You cannot criticise my community (churlish and spiteful) for objecting to public funding for an event that pays tribute to the ten hunger strikers – at least one of whom was convicted of killing a woman – and at the same time object to the Bratty thing.

    By standing up for the Bobby Sands Cup you are no better than the wretches who stand up for Joe Bratty.

    I’m NOT asking you to acknowledge that the hunger strikers were terrorists – I am asking you to acknowledge that in the eyes of my community they were terrorists – and that it’s not in the least spiteful or churlish of my community to look askance at public funding for something that commemorates them.

    “But can you not agree that we’d be in a much more stable and healthy society were the Loyal Orders to transform the manner in which they celebrate their culture into an ‘orange’ version of the Feile:”

    Would you object if there was a request to fund a Joe Bratty Commemorative Soccer Cup ?

  • Turgon

    I find Chris Donnelly’s latest offering a slightly more subtle and much longer version of what we have had before. Probably the best comment is Paids “Two thousand odd words, carefully written.
    A fine testament to an Irish summer.”

    This sort of argument (by Donnelly) is the current SF lite OO bashing. It implies that if the OO will change a bit it will be welcomed and supported by republicans.

    “But can you not agree that we’d be in a much more stable and healthy society were the Loyal Orders to transform the manner in which they celebrate their culture into an ‘orange’ version of the Feile: a self-confident outward expression of a community, welcoming debate, celebrating its own culture though taking care to avoid provocation in planning?”

    I am extremely dubious that the SF lite brigade will ever find the OO acceptable. This strikes me as another example of SF unionist outreach ie we will tell you what to think and how to act and how then we might find you acceptable. Yet like the end of the rainbow this “acceptance” will always be just out of reach.

    Of course a number of other republican posters on other threads have a different position describing the OO as bigots, the KKK etc. I fear they are simply less sophisticated, less long winded and more intelluctually honest.

    I might take Donnelly etc. a little more seriously if they would openly support the sorts of 12th celebrations held in South Londonderry, Fermanagh and the many other areas where there have been few if any unfortunate events ever, there are no unacceptable banners, bands etc. These 12th celebrations are surely what Donnelly and co want if they are now potentially supportive of orange culture.

  • The Equaliser

    It probably stems from the fact you regard republicans like the Hunger Strikers as ‘terrorists’ whilst I, naturally, have a much different opinion.”

    Those brave hunger strikers from wikipedia re mcelwee

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_McElwee

    “He was charged with murder for the death of Yvonne Dunlop a 26 year old Protestant, who was killed when one of the bombs they had planted destroyed her shop, the Alley Katz Boutique.”

    Chris what *exactly* do you think of mcelwee – a brave soldier or a cowardly fukin piece of shit who murdered a young girl running a shop.

    Francis Hughes

    from wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Hughes

    “Hughes’ fingerprints had been found on a car used during the killing of a 77 year old Protestant woman”

    Chris what *exactly* is your un-natural fetish with sickos who kill young girls and old women. You sound like a guy who had his first wank to an phoblact ????

    The hunger striker had no balls – they took the cowards way out, soldiers my arse. If you cant do the time, dont do the crime. Calling all unionists, come and join the wonderful GAA and join in a celebration of these orish role-models.

    Finally from wiki (great job wiki) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patsy_O’Hara

    Re pats ohara – his last words were reported to be “let the fight go on!”, i have inside info that his last words actually were “Bloddy hell, I rung that chinese delivery service 61 days ago and it still hasnt arrived”

  • kensei

    “I am extremely dubious that the SF lite brigade will ever find the OO acceptable. This strikes me as another example of SF unionist outreach ie we will tell you what to think and how to act and how then we might find you acceptable. Yet like the end of the rainbow this “acceptance” will always be just out of reach.”

    One thing is clear: the OO as it is not acceptable. So it really it depends on what you want. If you wish to open up the 12th, modernise the OO and make those celebrations mroe welcoming to outsiders, you are going to have to do two things: 1. talk to people who think it’s unacceptable to find out why and 2. change. And you really forget it’s a two way street – Unionism as no idea how to talk with or engage with Nationalism and Republicanism, and the feeling is that change is promised, but never really made.

    If you don’t, fine. Just don’t be surprised when people continue to view the organisation as unacceptable, and you continue to meet opposition, and you continue to be rerouted and have trouble getting funding and the rest.

  • The Third Policeman

    Criumh the Hunger Striker tops had nothing whatsoever to do with the GAA. It was a deal done entirely between SF and O’Neills. The GAA made O’Neills pull them off the shelves.

    Now I’m not the man to get into arguements over Feile an Phobail or the OO parades because, well, I’ve never been to either events. But, in the ridiculous one-up-man-ship of your event is more bigotted than mine competitions the OO still manages to take home the Jim Crow cup with this one. Feile at leats keeps its self to its self. There’s no attempt to drown Belfast in Tricolours and bunting and no parades in Unionist areas. Plus you have to admit it is very progressive. the Hunger Strikers issue is, of course, a very very tricky one. I couldn’t be bothered getting into a debate on the men themselves but understand the difference between a Hunger Strike trophey, and say a Sean Kelly Trophey. A Sean Kelly cup would equal a Joe Bratty banner. A Hunger Striker cup does not. The ten dead have a level of acceptance within the nationalist community far far greater than anyone else from the IRA. Its not hard to work out why. You certainly don’t have to agree with it, but what was that line fair_deal used, “its an Ulster Prod thing?” Well, its a Irish nationalist thing.

    Peace&Justice, I’m not a member of SF, but as a republican let me say you’re dead right. I do want the tricolour and symbols if Irish nationalism to be viewed as equal to the Union Jack and symbols of Unionism. Completely and totally 100% equal. And why the hell shouldn’t they be? Does the notion offend you? This isn’t to do with the principle of consent at all. Its about recognising the 40% of the country and the rights they have. Its not often SF pull out a pure corker of an idea but ‘equality or neutrality’ is brilliant.

    I try to question and critiscise my own beliefs and I have always argued that in a UI, the Union Jack should still fly alongside the tricolour from Stormont, to recognise the Unionist community as children of the nation who cherise their British heritage. I’d also say that the north should always remain in the commonwealth for the same reason. I never felt the need to try to beef up my politics with anti-Britishness. My question to you is, are you mature enough, and secure enough in the strenght of your own political ideology to allow the rights of the nationalist community be recognised in a similar manner? Or are you worried that the Union is so weak and rotten to the core that a simple act of flying the Irish Tricolour alongside the Union flag will smash it to pieces? How much of your unionism is made up of a genuine love for British values, freedoms and traditions, and how much is simply festering, gangrinous anti-Irishness?

    The Equaliser- Grow up.

  • Turgon

    Kensei,

    I am extremely doubtful that anything the OO could do would ever be enough for you except maybe just diasppearing. Even that might not be enough for you as the memory of greivance would be magnified by the irriataion of having no one left to hate. Evil orange types they just vanished!

    I suspect whatever changes were made you would find more and more unacceptable things about orange culture.

    Yet again you have signualarly failed to accept anthing good about the 12ths like South Londonderry, Fermanagh etc. There have never been any unacceptable banners, bands etc. If you were serious about encouraging change why not have the courage to accept that there is nothing offensive about such 12ths and that as such you have absolutely no problem with them.

  • The Equaliser

    3rdpm “grow up” – lame answer dood

    “The ten dead have a level of acceptance within the nationalist community far far greater than anyone else from the IRA. Its not hard to work out why.”

    not hard to work out why ??? – maybe its because they butched old women of 77 and young girls of 26 ????

    the only reason the provos could give (jimmys gang) for targeting the dunmurray furniture store was “it sold extravagantly priced furniture”

    hardly the sharpest tool in the shed, but he didnt die for nothing, looking at micks new thread, it looks like Slab Murphy has a neat property deal going down in bulgaria.

    “The dead, the dead, the dead- they have left us our Fenian fools”

  • Cruimh

    “Criumh the Hunger Striker tops had nothing whatsoever to do with the GAA. It was a deal done entirely between SF and O’Neills. The GAA made O’Neills pull them off the shelves.”

    Where did I claim it was anything to do with the GAA ? I was pointing out that Chris has to tread warily with his boss in respect of the hungerstrikers.

    Doesn’t alter the hypocrisy of saying ‘Joe Bratty commemoration bad, McElwee commemoration good’, or the hypocrisy of saying it’s churlish and spiteful of unionist community to object to hungerstriker commemorations.

    “Feile at leats keeps its self to its self.”

    and asks for large amounts of public money.

    My complaint about Chris isn’t his atitude to the Hunger Strikers – it’s his double standards.

    Is he being churlish and spiteful to object to the Bratty commemoration ? No
    Are unionists churlish and spiteful to object to the Bobby sands cup ? No

    Even his defence that he/his community don’t regard the HS as terrorists can be answered by saying that the loyalist community don’t regard Bratty as a terrorist – which makes his objections just as spiteful and churlish.

    Imagine the uproar if the Muslim community in London organised a festival and included a ” Mohammad Sidique Khan Commemorative cup” and asked for public funding. Would it be spiteful and churlish of Londoners to object ?

  • kensei

    “I am extremely doubtful that anything the OO could do would ever be enough for you except maybe just diasppearing. Even that might not be enough for you as the memory of greivance would be magnified by the irriataion of having no one left to hate. Evil orange types they just vanished!”

    The flag of my country is one equal third orange. The eradication of what it represents would be the complete and total failure of Republicanism.

    “I suspect whatever changes were made you would find more and more unacceptable things about orange culture.”

    No. I have fairly specific things I dislike. It is however a reasonably long list. Not insurmountable though. If you really like I can cite examples. I would genuinely like to be in a position where I could say I wholeheartly back them. And I like SF to be able to do the same; it’d be a great advance for the Republicanism.

    “Yet again you have signualarly failed to accept anthing good about the 12ths like South Londonderry, Fermanagh etc. There have never been any unacceptable banners, bands etc. If you were serious about encouraging change why not have the courage to accept that there is nothing offensive about such 12ths and that as such you have absolutely no problem with them. ”

    I do not know enough about those particular events to comment. But the fundamentally anti-Catholic nature of the OO (as opposed to Pro-Protestant) remains a barrier regardless. Don’t take my word for it, take the word of the Scottish Grand Master: http://edinburghnews.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=225&id=929152007
    Moreover, do you feel many Catholics would feel comfortable in those places? I would suggest there is still work to be done if that’s what your after.

    I’d thank you not to project your prejudices onto me, by the by.

  • PeaceandJustice

    The Third Policeman – “I do want the tricolour and symbols if Irish nationalism to be viewed as equal to the Union Jack and symbols of Unionism.”

    We’re all allowed to have aspirations. But Northern Ireland is part of the UK – as accepted by Sinn Fein IRA now they are in a British Assembly at Stormont. Therefore, deal with the facts and fly the flags of your country – the Union and Northern Ireland flags.

    Protestant Unionists in Eire were not give an option of ‘equality or neutrality’. It was a case of fit in or else.

    If SF IRA are going to try and stir things up again by not accepting the principle of consent in practice, then it’s a very dangerous road to go down …

  • Harry Flashman

    **How any Republican can hold out a cloak of legitimacy to the bigoted, sectarian and intimidation linked organisation that is the OO is beyond me.**

    You know Frank I can completely understand where you are coming from, you don’t like the Order and I imagine you have perfectly legitimate reasons for doing so, unfortunately if you profess to be an Irish Republican you have no option other than accept the legitimacy of the Orange Order. You see your national flag? Well what’s that colour on the right hand side? It’s, er, orange. Now it’s orange for a very specific reason.

    So unless you suggest changing the national flag of Ireland (after all before the Rising the flag of Irish nationalism was a gold harp on a green background, it was Sinn Fein who explicitly defined what flag would represent the Irish Republic) you as an Irish Republican are just going to have to swallow your justifiable distaste and accept the Orange Order. After all the Orange Order predates the Irish Tricolour by a century, so there can be no doubt to whom the designers of the Irish national flag were referring when they put the orange in.

    As regards St Patrick, the Unionists have the Cross of St Patrick included in their flag, it is a British creation and has no green in it. So there is no obligation for them to accept a “green” celebration of St Patricka and indeed they don’t; their celebration of St Patrick is very “British” ie the Queen Mum handing out shamrocks to the Irish Guards, all that sort of melarkey. That doesn’t mean however they should object to the much larger, global Irish Nationalist celebration of the Saint, just that they have no particular reason to join in (miserable party poopers!).

  • Cruimh

    Ironically Harry there was a time when the SF flag carried the stars and stripes in one corner 😉

  • Turgon

    Kensei,
    Now, now no need to get angry “I’d thank you not to project your prejudices onto me, by the by. ”
    You seem to have quite enough predjuices of your own without needing any of mine.

    “I do not know enough about those particular events to comment.”
    So you do not know anything about country 12ths but they must be bad because the OO in your book is anti catholic and not pro protestant. That is hardly a very enlightened or progressive view. Of course you are the arbiter of such things.

    “you continue to meet opposition, and you continue to be rerouted ” Well actually we have not been rerouted in my memory and I have seen very little opposition. Oh yes a drunk Prod threw a bottle into our band

    “I have fairly specific things I dislike. It is however a reasonably long list”
    I am pretty sure that as each possible complaint of yours was answered another one would leap into your mind to take its place.

    You see this is the problem Kensei, I and I am sure there are others like me might take you a little seriously if you would accept something good about orange culture.

  • kensei

    “So you do not know anything about country 12ths but they must be bad because the OO in your book is anti catholic and not pro protestant. That is hardly a very enlightened or progressive view. Of course you are the arbiter of such things.”

    It’s very simple, Turgon. Fruit of the poisoned tree. I find the OO so objectionable in itself that I couldn’t attend anything run by it (well unless possibly they line up Scarlett Johansen, Cameroon Diaz and Kiera Knightly for a celebrity mud wrestle, but their track record on that sort of stuff isn’t good :P). Sorry. I speak only for myself, I should add, and that’s my view of the OO. The oath for joining specifically mentions the Catholic Church, and the behaviour of the Order is as such to confirm my opinion. If you think otherwise, demonstrate it to me.

    “I am pretty sure that as each possible complaint of yours was answered another one would leap into your mind to take its place.”

    Have you any proof of that other than random bigotry? Nope.

    “You see this is the problem Kensei, I and I am sure there are others like me might take you a little seriously if you would accept something good about orange culture.”

    There is nothing inherently wrong with orange culture. Do I object to bonfires per se? Nope. Do I object to them building up for months, causing environmental hazard and looking crappy then burning Tricolours (and more) on them? Damn right. Do I object to an organisation that wants to spread the Protestant faith? Nope, I have little problem with the Salvation Army, for instance. I do object to one that is seemingly defined in Anti-Catholic terms. Do I object to parades? Nope. Do I object to parading past places where, really, it’s an act of intimidation, or where they shut the whole city down, or where they contain paramilitary flags? Yup.

    I’m sure the country OO demonstrations are better than the Belfast one. I just not sure that is really enough.

  • Reader

    Third Policeman: My question to you is, are you mature enough, and secure enough in the strenght of your own political ideology to allow the rights of the nationalist community be recognised in a similar manner?
    The problem is that your notion of a Union flag over Stormont in a UI is a million miles from “Neutrality or Equality” as demanded by SF right now. Tell me what “Neutrality or Equality” would actually mean in a UI, then say whether it would be acceptable to you.
    This was a test of whether you were as secure “in the strength of your own political ideology” as the unionists you were challenging…

  • Steaky

    Chris,
    “Perhaps the most revealing example this year was to be found in Newcastle, Co. Down, where loyalists erected flags along the main street in the majority nationalist town

    As a Newcastle resident i have to say that Sinn Fein dropped the ball on this one by putting Flags up at Easter a few years back. That led to this tit for tat flag flying.

    Besides, if it is majority rule, I am willing to bet that the overwhelming majority of Newcastle residents dont want ANY flag being erected, especially, at what are the two busiest times of the tourist season.

  • kensei

    “As a Newcastle resident i have to say that Sinn Fein dropped the ball on this one by putting Flags up at Easter a few years back. That led to this tit for tat flag flying.”

    I thought you were going to say at Easter, rather than “a few years ago”, which is unbelievably weak, even for whataboutery.

  • John

    As an Ulster Nationalist/Irish-British person I agree that the OO parades in certain areas of NI can be intimidating, but this is a reflection of the working class people in those areas and there isolation from the rest of NI society.

    Many parts of NI were not greatly affected by the troubles, and infact I grew up throughout the enitre period but my only memories of the troubles were those that I saw in TV, just like someone who lived in the ROI, Scotland, Wales or England.

    I grew up in a middle class area of North Down, where we had close neighbours who were Nationalists, RUC officers and OO members. Infact we have two integrated schools in the area.

    The middle class people of NI have already made the journey to the shared future for NI.
    It would appear that the working class people have still to complete the journey.

  • Jocky

    In the rush for whataboutery a rather obvious point has been missed. The fact the 11th night bonfires culutre should change because at present it’s crap.

    How can the OO or unionists complain about demands for change to the 11th bonfires when it’s not offically affliated with either the orange order or unionist parties. A point they make to distance themselves from the inevitable embarrasment. They cant have it both ways

    The law should be implemented as it stands, bonfire sites should be licensed, any that aren’t plod turns up and closes them down.

    If the culutre was so important then at the very least it can get it’s act together. Who loses? no one. Why does everthing have to be a zero sum game?

  • fair_deal

    It seems from the reply that you don’t have a working definition for shared space and still haven’t tackled the contradiction of majority v minority.

    “your highlighting of republican opposition to unionist parades across the Peace line in north/ west Belfast is ridiculous.”

    I never said North/West Belfast was directly comparable with Ballymena. The examples were mentioned were to highlight that republicans contradict their positions on parades too.

    “On the St. Patrick’s Day matter, unionists wishing to celebrate the day should be encouraged to do so however they see fit, but not to restrict the manner in which nationalists seek to do so (akin to the rest of the world) simply because some unionist political leaders can’t stand the sight of a Tricolour.”

    1. A nice linguistic dance but doesn’t answer any of the points plus displays an unwillingness to adapt attitudes. The position of St Pats also seems to contradict the position on ‘shared space’.
    2. The claim it is just out-of-step politicians with a problem is a general nonsense.

  • Turgon

    Kensei,
    “I find the OO so objectionable in itself ”
    Exactly, so if that is your view you will object to anything the order do and as such your view is neither helpful or progressive. You are more subtle and polite than some other commentors on this site but essentially there is little difference from calling the order the “Klan”.

    “I’m sure the country OO demonstrations are better than the Belfast one. I just not sure that is really enough.” This next post just further proves the point does not it? You do not know anything about South Londonderry 12th but it must be bad (after all evil orange types do it).
    I like the idea of my demonstrating “random bigotry” but I feel a bit of pot calling kettle black may be occuring here. After all on a previous thread you demanded to know what I as an orangeman thought of the changes proposed by the Socttish grand master but failed to notice that I had said in the same post I was not an orangeman.

    John,
    Remember that the North Down middle class are not entirely typical of Northern Ireland, not even the middle class of Northern Ireland. My wife was brought up in a very middle class background in South Fermanagh that was and is rather different from North Down (and a lot wetter). A “shared future” in South Fermanagh is a little more complex even for the middle class.

    Castigating the working class for not having a “shared future” is also a bit unfair. In certain working class areas there are very many more problems than there are in North Down. Many more and much more complex problems than you or I can easily and quickly understand or dismiss. Also of course a “shared future” means very different things to different people.

  • Dewi

    Turgon – I humbly suggest that what is needed is to somehow reduce the intensity of the twelth celebrations. Don’t know if the order can do anything but the whole place seems to go bonkers (even on here !!).

  • Turgon

    Dewi,
    An interesting point and I can see where you are comming from but off hand a few issues-

    1). Reducing what is essentially a community evenbt would be difficult near impossible without banning lots of things and annoying people.

    2). I am not equating those Welsh language events with the 12th (I cannot remember let alone type the word) but it would be pretty unpopular with Welsh speakers to try to reduce such events would it not?

    3). As you can see on here every time there is the possibility of less flags or less something orange there are a considerable number of contributors who start celebrating the imminent demise of orange / unionist culture and by implication imply that unionists are all about to give up and become good Irish nationalists. This is hardly going to make us likely to embrace such an option.

  • Steaky

    Kensei,
    “I thought you were going to say at Easter, rather than “a few years ago”, which is unbelievably weak, even for whataboutery.”

    Sorry, I am not sure what you mean but maybe my post got lost in translation.

    Newcastle historically never indulged in flag flying from either side, even when there has been parades through the town (which is a pain in the ass at the best of times but were usually scheduled to coincide with Sat night mass).

    Then easter lillies and tricolours were erected and since then EVERY twelfth and easter we have had the flags flying.

    Not quite sure how it became whataboutery but for the record I am a nationalist, but I prefer not to put people off coming to a tourist town and also happen to think that it is disrepectful to a flag to tie it to a lamppost and leave it to the elements.

    If thats whataboutery in your book, let me know.

  • Dewi

    Turgon – points well made. It’s not the scale of the celebrations but the slow build up of intense feelings that erecting those massive and hatred filled bonfires that seems to provoke. Accept very difficult to curb

    P.S. It’s Eisteddfod…and having sat through many hours of Violin solos under fifteen I have sympathy with a prescriptive approach…

    PPS How is the fair Elenwe ?

  • kensei

    “Exactly, so if that is your view you will object to anything the order do and as such your view is neither helpful or progressive. You are more subtle and polite than some other commentors on this site but essentially there is little difference from calling the order the “Klan”.”

    No, I would consider that hyperbole. However my view is that the OO is fundamentally anti-Catholic, and moreover, it has no need to be. If they rewrote their Constitution and oaths on joining to omit any mention of Catholicism and instead focused on what they believed, then that would remove a fundamental problem I have with them.

    I don’t necessarily object to anything the OO does; I just feel I can’ give it my support while it remains as it is. There is clearly two OO’s: the one that plays an important part in communities, has support mechanisms for them and does some charitable work. The other is the ugly face that is often seen by Nationalists. I’d rather see the ugly face go than the whole edifice toppling down.

    As for being more subtle, it’s more than that. I am trying to be specific about the things I dislike, rather than just putting out general hostility. Only by being specific and addressing specific problems can we actually move forward in any meaningful sense. You could probe those and look for a platform for debate, but rather you;d prefer to call me a bigot and place words into my mouth.

    “This next post just further proves the point does not it? You do not know anything about South Londonderry 12th but it must be bad (after all evil orange types do it).”

    I don’t think I ever introduced the word “evil” into the conversation. I would make an educated guess that there aren’t many Catholics attending those. If you seriously wish that to the case, change would be needed.

    “I like the idea of my demonstrating “random bigotry” but I feel a bit of pot calling kettle black may be occuring here. After all on a previous thread you demanded to know what I as an orangeman thought of the changes proposed by the Socttish grand master but failed to notice that I had said in the same post I was not an orangeman.”

    I would ask to know your opinion on it regardless of whether you are an orangeman. I made a mistake, and apologised for it. What’s your point?

    It’s largely irrelevant anyway. I’ve had conversations with some actual orangemen on here that have had more give in them than this one.

  • Turgon

    Kensei,
    There seems to me a certain logical inconsistentcy in your arguments after all “I find the OO so objectionable in itself” and “fruit of the poisoned tree” then we have “I don’t necessarily object to anything the OO does”. I would have thought the first two comments came under the category of “general hostility” admittedly more eloquent than some other posters. I am sure you can via convoluted logic explain this and indeed I can see an explanation. It is just I do not believe it and I suspect if you were honest you would accept you just do not like the OO full stop.

    Accusing steaky of whataboutery and then failing to reply to his subsequent post seems to rather set the tone of your contributions on this thread.

    You suggest there are few catholics attending the South Londonderry 12th but fail to acknowledge that the nationalists of South Londonderry seem rather unconcerned about the 12ths in South Londonderry and have very rarely raised any objections. Indeed the closest you can get to anything nice about country 12ths is “I’m sure the country OO demonstrations are better than the Belfast one.” – hardly a ringing endorsement.

    I am aware that you are repeatedly attempting to get me to discuss specifics so that you can “prove” how biggoted the order is but as I have said what is the point when from your own mouth (well keyboard actually) we have comments like “I find the OO so objectionable in itself” and “fruit of the poisoned tree”. That is hardly a basis to provide me with any confidence at all that debate about specifices has any relevance. Incidentally you are well aware that I said the changes proposed by the Scottish grand master seemed reasonable.

    If my view is irrelevant anyway your four posts to me on this subject look to me like time wasted. I would be quite happy to discuss “give” with someone who tried to demonstrate an interest in anything other than “take” but on this issue despite your eloquency and good manners it seems that “I find the OO so objectionable in itself” pretty much defines your approach on this.

  • Turgon

    Dewi,

    Elenwe is well.

    I was thinking about what you had asked.

    One of the things I think few outside bands understand is that each band has its own fund raising parade. Obviously each band wants a big turn out and if a band comes to your parade a band feels bound to go to their’s, hence lots and lots of parades which is overall no bad thing but does drag the process out I accept.

    A lot of criticism has been leveled at bonfires. I was briefly in Belfast on the 11th evening and there are a very large number of bonfires. Round where I was brought up there are a lot less. Also of course in the country a fire in a field is less of a problem.

    I think a lot of the smaller fires seem to be run by children and teenagers. Undoubtly they would be better at orgainsed events. Of course that raises problems. I think part of the fun for kids is doing their own thing and without being condescending they may think little about their own or property’s safety let alone disruption.

    The nasty element at bonfires is also of course a problem but in some areas there is a danger of Hobson’s choice. If unorganised kids cause chaos, if organised undesirable elements may do the orgainsing. I suspect quite a lot of those at fires for a prolonged period never make it to the morning parades. As such sensible and responsible bandsmen and orangemen are unlikely to take a leadership role in the fires as they need to get up early in the morning. Also of course at an event in the evening when quite a bit of alcohol has been consumed those advocating wiser counsels are likely to be ignored.

    I have no solutions and I can see the problems especially on the bonfires but I think it is very difficult.

  • The Third Policeman

    Criumh you are of course correct when you say there is a level of hypocrasy in saying that a Joe Bratty banner is not OK, while a Bobby Sands cup is. But if you stick with me for a moment I’ll show you my logic behind it.

    With commemorations of all kinds the important points to consider are who, where, how and crucially, why. Now where and how are easy to judge, and in this case it doesn’t take much of a leap to say that a cup with Bobby Sands engraved on it, presented in West Belfast at the mainly nationalist Feile an Phobail is clearly more subtle and less offensive than a pretty large banner with Bratty’s name and picture on it, carried through Belfast city center. Now this isn’t the point I wanted to make as its a bit cheap and meaningless, but merely a side point while we’re on the issue. What I’m saying is that we should ask ourselves ‘who is being commemorated here’, and ‘why are they being remembered’?

    Now what I put to you is that the Hunger Striker cup at FaP is not remembering these men because they killed, but commemorating the way they died and what they died for. Bobby Sands did not get his name on a cup because he was in the IRA, but because he starved himself to death for 66 days and did it for his comrades and his community in general. This selfless act is commemorated, and commemorated, in this incidence anyway, in a very subtle, quiet matter. A Joe Bratty banner, carried along shared space, or in a nationalist area is designed to offend. To commemorate his sectarian murders and throw them up in everyone’s faces. Just as a Sean Kelly banner carried along the Shankill or the city center would be designed to offend. Both men acheived nothing in their lives except sectarian violence and bloodshed. What else is there to remember about them?

    The Chris Columbus statue in Barcelona is not there, well I hope anyway, to immortalise him for his genocidal tendancies but rather his discovery of America. The British remember Churchill fondly because of WW2, not because he wanted to gas ‘uncivilised tribes’ in Iraq. The goodness a man does can sometimes outweigh the badness in him. Its a fact of human life.

    Look at it this way, in 5 or 6 years time the OO may have moved to a position where they were more or less acceptable to most nationalists, the bonfire problem being sorted, residents dialogue issues yada yada yada. Now in that situation if I were to go to Orangfest (awful name btw, have you considered Feile na Oráiste?;)) I would still see plenty of banners with King Billy, Carson, Craigavon, maybe even David Ervine. These men are certainly not loked upon favourably by the nationalist community, in fact most will say they have done great disservices to the Irish people. But they are remembered by the Order for what it sees as the positives of their lives. This sort of commemoration is not designed to offend. And neither, I would say, is the Bobby Sands Cup. His death is remembered in a manner which is not aimed to be offensive to anyone. Sure many can take offense, but then I can take offense at carson’s statue, or the RUC or B Specials windows in Belfast city hall.

    Of course its a very delicate situation, and one where nether of us are probably going to go away with a new enlightened attitude.

  • kensei

    “There seems to me a certain logical inconsistentcy in your arguments after all “I find the OO so objectionable in itself” and “fruit of the poisoned tree” then we have “I don’t necessarily object to anything the OO does”. I would have thought the first two comments came under the category of “general hostility” admittedly more eloquent than some other posters. I am sure you can via convoluted logic explain this and indeed I can see an explanation. It is just I do not believe it and I suspect if you were honest you would accept you just do not like the OO full stop.”

    What way can I put this? I don’t particularly mind a load of people going for a walk in any area they don’t offend anyone, and spending sometime in the field. So I don’t object to it. But if it is run by an organisation that is objectionable in itself, I don’t feel I could support it, either by attending or encouraging others to attend or supporting my tax dollars going to funding it. That is an important but significant difference.

    Do I like the OO? No, not particularly. But firstly, the point you are missing is I am trying to zone in what it is about it I find objectionable so we can find a way to move forward. You also assume that liking is a prerequisite to support and respect, when it isn’t. I’ll never feel the way you feel about orange culture. But that doesn’t mean I am incapable of enjoying it if things move forward, like I can enjoy other cultures that are not my own.

    There are also politicians whose politics I don’t particularly like, but I can respect them or indeed, like them for other things they’ve done.

    “Accusing steaky of whataboutery and then failing to reply to his subsequent post seems to rather set the tone of your contributions on this thread.”

    I didn’t have time to reply. Simple misunderstanding. His post read as if SF had put flags up a few years back and this was payback now, rather than a tit for tat thing going on since. Personally, I’d like to see us get to the point where the Union Jacks go up for the 12th (and are of course, taken down and not left to go ragged for months) and the tricolours for Easter, if that’s what people want.

    “You suggest there are few catholics attending the South Londonderry 12th but fail to acknowledge that the nationalists of South Londonderry seem rather unconcerned about the 12ths in South Londonderry and have very rarely raised any objections. Indeed the closest you can get to anything nice about country 12ths is “I’m sure the country OO demonstrations are better than the Belfast one.” – hardly a ringing endorsement.”

    As I said, I know very little about them and I don’t pretend to deny it. It really depends what you want. Do you want the event to be something only Protestants really attend? Then you are probably ok as you are. If you want Catholics and tourists to attend, it is difficult to see how change isn’t necessary.

    “I am aware that you are repeatedly attempting to get …..”

    I wasn’t actually. I don’t keep track of every internet debate I have.

    I am also not trying to trap you into proving anyone is anything. I have my opinion and if you wish, I can back them up. I am interested in discussing to see how they tally up with what you see as reasonable or what is intrinsic to that culture and why, because it increases my understanding. And as Republican, I need to convince some Prods to want a United Ireland. And that’s a million times harder when you don’t understand the mindset one bit. So if you don’t believe me, believe my self interest.

    “If my view is irrelevant anyway your four posts to me on this subject look to me like time wasted. I would be quite happy to discuss “give” with someone who tried to demonstrate an interest in anything other than “take” but on this issue despite your eloquency and good manners it seems that “I find the OO so objectionable in itself” pretty much defines your approach on this. ”

    You are misreading me. My mistake was irrelevant to the overall point.

    I find the OO objectionable because I think it is anti-Catholic at heart. The qualifications may state “ever abstaining from all uncharitable words, actions, or sentiments towards his Roman Catholic brethren” but it seems incompatible with the preceding statements, how they are applied (in for instance, discipling those who attend Catholic funerals) and the subsequent actions of the Order. Why should Catholics be mentioned at all – there are a thousand other religions which Protestants disagree with. Can’t the OO merely positively state it’s beliefs, and that be enough?

  • Turgon

    Kensei,
    So finally after all the waffle and “I find the OO so objectionable in itself” and “fruit of the poisoned tree” we come to a positive,
    “And as Republican, I need to convince some Prods to want a United Ireland. And that’s a million times harder when you don’t understand the mindset one bit”.

    This is not an attempt to understand for its own sake, not an attempt to understand in order to make people more tolerant of one another but an an attempt to understand in order to get the Holy grail of a united Ireland.

    When I was at Queen’s I wanted to understand the GAA and stuff to understand what my friends enjoyed and were interested in and I was ignorant of. I did not want to use this as a device to convince them to stop believing in a united Ireland. When I ask nationalists at work about their culture, religion and heritage it is an attempt to gain understanding for its own sake and not as an attempt to defeat the central tennant of their position. Gaining understanding of my neighbours is my “self interest” rather different from your “self interest”. Still one day you may seek knowledge and understanding for its own sake, when you do you may get a more positive response.

  • kensei

    Good grief. You didn’t believe in my sincerity, so I gave you another reason that didn’t require you to. I am interested in things in themselves, but being interested in politics, I am also interested in how things impact that. The world doesn’t exist in a little black and white bubble where people have unitary motives.

    I have a feeling you are merely taking the piss out of me at this point and I don’t like that one bit. So I think I’ll exit the discussion here.

  • The Adjudicator

    Kensi, you are herby charged with excessive masturbation. How do you plead?

  • Kensei

    Guilty as charged

  • Dewi

    Turgon – sorry to take so long to reply – been in Manchester.
    Two points:

    Mick quoted Brecht in of his recent points – something about “looking from afar or as a stranger” being the way to comment usefully. I paraphrase I know.

    Again using analogy – this time from Mr Blair –
    “Need to eliminate violence and need to eliminate the cause of violence”

    Many of the causes of violence have been eliminated but the frenzy of the build up to the twelfth has not. I humbly suggest that unless
    something is done about this there is trouble added.

    Banning huge bonfires ??