Twelfth 2008

Suited and booted once again and about to leave to the master’s house for a couple of bacon butties as preparation for the Belfast walk and my annual constitutional of about 10-12 miles. Here is the mandatory annual piece on the Twelfth. In case anyone wants to know how my Twelfth went here is my thread from last year, pretty much only the weather changes.

  • rabelais

    Picador,
    I’m neither an Orangeman nor supporter of any loyalist paramilitary organisation. I’m not even a unionist. I just feel that when the debate descends into one which is about comparing the ‘quality’ of respective cultures we’re missing the substantial political points. Which you yourself point to.

    I feel very strongly that culture and politics are linked but they aren’t the same thing and trying to separate them is a tough one. But it’s not the cultural form of loyalism I object to (bonefires, drinking, street demonstrations – all good plebian fun) but its political content (sectarianism, conservatism, religiousity infringing into secular society).

    To complain about the fact that loyalist get drunk on the 11th night and the 12th. Or that they burn tyres on bonefires. Or that Orange culture isn’t as old/authentic/inclusive as Irish culture is just to miss the political point for me.

  • Dewi

    To all Unionist posters on this site:

    If you had a blank site and after you defeated the Defenders in 1700 and whenever you wanted to start a annual Unionist cultural festival – is this what you would have envisaged ? IMHO it’s a pile of crap.

  • picador

    Rabelais,

    Maybe I haven’t been following this thread closely enough (though I have contributed to it a lot) but I haven’t seen much objections of the type you refer to.

    My primary objection to the Twelfth relates to its intimidating nature and the fact that in so many ways we are held to ransom by it. Most people just give in and get out of the north which is in a way letting the Orange Order win (again). It’s time this changed. I look forward to the shops opening next year though naturally I am a bit sceptical about whether this will happen.

    I also object to the state-run media to which we pay a hefty tax pushing Orange propaganda at us – e.g. the claim that 500,000 turned out in Belfast, ignoring the paramilitaries in their TV coverage – and generally trying to rehabilitate the OO. They are pursuing a blatantly political line.

  • POL

    I also object to the state-run media to which we pay a hefty tax pushing Orange propaganda at us – e.g. the claim that 500,000 turned out in Belfast, ignoring the paramilitaries in their TV coverage – and generally trying to rehabilitate the OO. They are pursuing a blatantly political line.
    Posted by picador on Jul 13, 2008 @ 09:36 PM

    A bit like the rangers in Manchester thingy. reporter talking about the racist bona fides of Zenit supporters whilst rangers supporters singing sectarian songs behind him. A classic piece of bbc reportage.

  • kensei

    I watched the UTV coverage of the parades. In Malahide, obviously, because I want to be as far out of Belfast as I can get over the Twelfth. A couple of things struck me.

    Almost everyone they interviewed stated that “It’s a good family day” out. It was so regular it was creepy. It was almost as if they know that there is something inherently offensive to Catholics at the heart of it but don’t question why they might be. My unease was slightly more compounded by all the wee ones running about in Sashes. It is an organisation that essentially has something supremacist and exclusionary at at its heart. Do people release that, see it in that way? And you have to try to be open. Genuinely unsure of how to feel about it. Generally uneasy.

    The speech about “This is about Protestantism, this is about Britishness” shows they kind of trip over each other. If it was just about Protestantism, it would be a purely religious thing where, for example, staunchly Protestant Republicans could feel comfortable; if it was simply about Britishness, Catholics who feel British could join in. The result is that it is basically for Ulster Protestants, and that’s it.

    Kind linked in at is at one point they had a prayer service with members arranged in a circle with a Bible in the middle. It was done to show all members were equal. But I couldn’t help think: circles keep things out as well as in.

  • picador

    pol,

    Seeing as how you mentioned Scotland, do they show the Twelfth on TV over there. If not why not? After all, surely it’s ‘a fun day out for all the family’ there too. Or does the local BBC operate to a different agenda?

  • Mick Fealty

    Ken,

    The very first Orange meeting was reputed to have taken place in a circle. And you are right about both qualities: it is indicative of equality within the institution, and it does keep Catholics out.

    But genuinely, how worried are you about that?

    It’s not impossible to become Jewish, but it is next to it. Most Jews aren’t proselytizers. Now, I don’t want to become Jewish, but I have still have a strong interest in making sure that my Jewish friends and neighbours have the freedom to follow their own religion and culture.

    Clearly there are some who cannot tolerate a tradition that has been indigenous in Ulster for nearly two hundred years. More seriously there are several communities which have had bad experiences of Orange parades in the past.

    Politicisation of parades peaked in the period after the ceasefire (at a time when GAA clubs were also systematically targeted). After ten years of relative peace the legitimate fear amongst residents groups is that the abolition of the Parades Commission will bring in its wake a top down political deal that overrides a local feeling that was once paramount.

    Yet, these are a tiny minority of the thousands of parades that happen every year. My own early experience of the pre-troubles parading season in the mixed area where I grew up was that by and large it was pluralist.

    Later when the troubles were on, we would do what many of our neighbours did and seek to get away from it by going to the beach for the day or going off to stay with relatives in Donegal.

    IMHO, the difference between dangerous parades and civil ones (in my life time at least) has been the fact of the Troubles and the accompanying ‘noises off’. The civil strife for which Orange parades have sometimes been an innocent conductor cannot be done away with overnight.

    The Orangefest (patchy though it seems to have been) is a step in the right direction. It cannot invite Catholics into the heart of the celebrations, but it can and should see that the threat is taken away from those celebrations.

    Successive years of peace will do some of that. In the meantime, the Orangefest idea is, it seems to me, to be a bottom-up step towards civilised engagement. And for our tiny brutalised spot on the earth that has to be a good thing, surely?

  • kensei

    Mick

    The very first Orange meeting was reputed to have taken place in a circle. And you are right about both qualities: it is indicative of equality within the institution, and it does keep Catholics out.

    But genuinely, how worried are you about that?

    I’m not concerned that it keeps Catholics out. I’m concerned, as I tried to indicate, that it keeps everyone but Ulster Prods out.

    As an Irish Republican, I look at my flag and I look at this and wonder is there any way I can support it: if there is ever to be a United Ireland, then there has to be an end to the idea that it means the end to Ulster Prods. But there is something that makes me deeply uneasy at the heart of this. Even if we remain forever in mutual veto limbo, it does not strike me as a positive force. It’s seems based around solidifying Unionist culture in siege mentality and opposition to Roman Catholicism, which is unfortunate as it will almost inevitably translate into opposition to the other major population block here. If there really were 500,000 Protestants out for the parades it truly is Ourselves Alone on a scale unreached by Nationalism.

    I have been to the St Pats Day parade in New York. I didn’t really like it that much, being a touch overly militaristic for me. But it didn’t strike me as a piss in the woods away from what I saw on TV last night. Despite that parades odd issue with exclusion, it works, and the wider St Pats Day Parade thing works, because there is something open at the heart of it. Come drink with us, come celebrate with us, everyone is a little bit Irish for the Day. Irish flags fly alongside US Flags or wherever the host country is. The 12th on the other hand strikes me as having something closed at its heart. The constant almost automatic repetition of 2It’s a great family day” seemed to suggest that a lot of those participating knew they would give difficulty to Catholic neighbours.

    I of course have my own prejudices, and maybe that’s all that it is. But there seems to me to need to be some kind of shift for true progress. Is absence of war really the best we should aim for?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Mick,

    The right to march, where it does not ( reasonably) cause offence should be upheld. Whether a modern civilised tolerant society should embrace as its main cultural event such a non-inclusive ‘festival’ which often encourages sectariansim and political extremism as witnessed by the speeches of its leaders and behaviour of its supporters is another matter.

    The idea of closing down Belfast where Nationalists (who are effectively excluded from this festival) make up almost 45% of the population is something that the parades commission should be looking at. There certainly should be no public money for an organisation that tolerates behaviour not even acceptable in most football grounds.

    On the plus side, from a Nationalist viewpoint, the negative image portrayed by this ‘festival’
    only serves to strengthen support for the Nationalist position in Britain where there is only embarassment that people claiming to be British could behave in such and intolerant fashion.

    Can anyone name a single high profile British mainlander who has tried in any way to associate themselves with this cultural tradition? Popularity is not in itself proof of worth – but being totally ingnored by those who wish to associate yourself and be loyal to is surely proof that you have got something very badly wrong.

  • Peter Brown

    Care to tell the audience why rule 21 was brought in Pete

    Don’t know – tell me

  • kensei

    As an Irish Republican, I look at my flag and I look at this and wonder is there any way I can support it

    Heh, just read that one back. Meant “anyway I can support the 12th”, obv 😛

  • WindsorRocker

    [i]If you had a blank site and after you defeated the Defenders in 1700 and whenever you wanted to start a annual Unionist cultural festival – is this what you would have envisaged ? IMHO it’s a pile of crap.

    Posted by Dewi on Jul 13, 2008 @ 09:01 PM[/i]

    Bit difficult to have a Unionist festival in 1701 as the Act of Union didn’t come about for another 100 years…..

  • WindsorRocker

    The reality is that the Orange Institution, like the GAA, is a broad political/cultural church….

    Both organisations contain a wide spectrum of values and opinion.
    But both organisations will also contain individual clubs/lodges which come from areas where a high level of support would have been given to the paramilitaries. Those clubs/lodges will always claim the right to remember individuals who were members… whether that be Joe Bratty or Kevin Lynch…..
    The reality of both organisations is that they practice a form of democracy which means situations like this will always happen.

  • picador

    WR,

    Your point is valid to a degree.

    One major difference is that the GAA does not claim to be a religious organisation and is open to people of all religious persuasions.

    The other obvious point is that the GAA do not attempt to march on the Queens Highway but confine their activities to sporting venues. If the Orange Order confined their activities to Orange Halls there would be no problem.

    The AOH would be a more appropriate comparison.

  • feckit

    Ms Wiz

    “What’s blinkered or bigoted about pointing out the preponderance of paramilitary symbols at the 12th?”

    It’s blinkered because there isn’t a preponderance of paramilitary symbols at the 12th. You’re either misinformed or lying.

  • Earnan

    To suggest that these parades attract more tourists then they scare away is a laugh!!

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    Earnan,

    Given the fact that that post ceasefire parades have been a residual site of conflict, I’d say it is too early to say with any confidence whether that is true in the long term. But surely it’s a socially useful ambition?

  • POL

    pol,

    Seeing as how you mentioned Scotland, do they show the Twelfth on TV over there. If not why not? After all, surely it’s ‘a fun day out for all the family’ there too. Or does the local BBC operate to a different agenda?

    Wouldnt know picador, but i`d doubt it. However the bbc in scotland are as sectarian in their reportage.

  • POL

    #

    To suggest that these parades attract more tourists then they scare away is a laugh!!
    Posted by Earnan on Jul 14, 2008 @ 03:22 AM

    Show on last year where they tried to rope in as many tourists as possible. Conclusion was that the tourists thought the 12th shennanigans boring and pointless.

  • Ms Wiz

    feckit

    ‘It’s blinkered because there isn’t a preponderance of paramilitary symbols at the 12th. You’re either misinformed or lying.’

    Well I believe my own two eyes and just trawling through this thread and others, not to mention the newspapers, it seems I wasn’t the only one to spot paramilitary paraphernalia on the bands, stalls or various flags. In Belfast anyway you didn’t have to look very hard.

  • picador

    Show on last year where they tried to rope in as many tourists as possible. Conclusion was that the tourists thought the 12th shennanigans boring and pointless.

    I made myself watch some of the alleged ‘highlights’ on the BBC website. Men walking in single file interspersed by near identical sounding flute bands in quasi-military uniform. I watched it for about 15 minutes and it wasn’t the slightest bit entertaining. Give me Semana Santa in Andalucia any time – they even dress up as the KKK!

  • picador

    Trying to be a bit more objective here and put aside my own feelings about the Orange Order. What does the Belfast Twelfth have to offer as a spectacle. Bands, lots of them. And Orangemen – walking in lines, lots of them. What do the Orangemen do? They march, they wave occasionally and they look staid and sober. An hour of this is very boring.

    What about Irish festivals in general? St Patrick’s Day being the big set piece I suppose. Bands, floats – essentially nothing particularly exciting. I don’t think we do the big set piece events well. We do however do informal things pretty well and that is where our pub culture serves us well.

    Look at a country like Spain however and they really know how to put on a spectacle – the San Fermin in Pamplona, Feria de Abril in Seville, Las Fallas in Valencia. More soberly they do Semana Santa. And they do triumphalism as well – Cristianos y Moros. As well as complete craziness such as La Tomatina where they throw tomatoes at each other.

    If the Orange Order are serious about this Orangefest business, well first they need to ditch the bigotry and secondly they need to get around a bit and see how others do it. And they should bring the Rev Stephen Dickonson with them cos frankly he sounds like a right miserable old bastard.

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘Don’t know – tell me’

    Quite

  • doctor

    “Clearly there are some who cannot tolerate a tradition that has been indigenous in Ulster for nearly two hundred years.

    Mick, as far as traditions go the Orange culture hasn’t exactly done itself any favours in the past two hundred years that would leave outsiders exactly eager to embrace this example of diversity. I know there is a debate within the order about what constitues true orangeism, but I’ve yet to see any real evidence that the more liberal view that would make the order more acceptable to non-unionists/protestants is gaining much momentum. I’m not sure how “Orangefest” is any different from “marching season” other than the name on the marquee.

    I don’t think most opponents of Orangeism are actually calling for anyone spotted wearing a collarette to be arrested on the spot and the order outlawed. Whether it represents “true orangeism” or not, much of this culture does contain major elements that are explicitly insulting to outsiders. The degree of tolerance the orange gets in return is therefore a tricky issue.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Sectarian bigotry is not culture CL it is just plain sectarian bigotry

    Posted by Submariner on Jul 13, 2008 @ 05:14 PM…………………………………………

    Tell that to the Antrim GAA who were only too happy to allow an IRA Hunger Strike Memorial Parade to culminate in a rally at Casement Park, in August 2006…