To get myself warmed up for our 12th outing I went along to an Orange Parade in my home town of Crumlin tonight. I lasted half of the 2 hours scheduled, mainly because I got bored. The occasion was the opening of the Arch in the Village which has appeared in recent days. Ive never been a fan of the thing and it certainly isnt a work of art being more designed to last than for any aesthetic quality.I fell in with a bad crowd at the outset, Parades Commission monitors, there because of concerns raised by local residents over the route and the fact last year one of the bands stopped outside a pub to give a rendition of the Sash to punters.
The PSNI presence in the village while visible wasnt huge but the addition of a mobile CCTV jeep didnt set an early scene of normality. It may have been due to a bottle thrown at a previous parade which injured a participant.
Things started with the lodge members assembling on the road for speeches and prayers made over a dodgy PA – I couldnt hear a word. They then formed up – 1 band and 75 odd people, mainly older men, and almost exactly half the numbers they declared on their form to the Commission.
They set off watched by a crowd barely numbering 20 and got a few waves from friends outside the pubs on the Main St they passed. As they turned to head to the outskirts of the village I realised I was more bored than anything else and headed back home for a beer.
So a largely inoffensive and harmless occasion? In the main.
That brings me back to the one of the reasons the Parades Commission were there – as this parade returns to its starting point it, like almost every parade in the village, inexplicably veers off just before reaching its destination and will march down two residential streets which wont have very many supporters living on them. It then returns to the main road before finishing at the Orange Hall. A pointless addition that along with the pretty awful arch are probably the only big negatives I can see in this parade – beyond disagreeing with the ethos and spirit of the organisation involved that is.
ADDS: I should also note as positives – there are no attempts beyond the Arch to decorate or claim the Village with flags, there was no colour party or flags displayed during the march, of the few supporters only one a small child was waving a flag, the band was a restrained Silver Band and as they passed the pub where the previous Sash playing occurred only a single drumbeat was heard (I don’t know if that was voluntary or a PC detirmination)