Slightly inspired by Drumlins Rock piece ‘The Marching Season – What’s it all about?’ I decided to conduct a little [non scientific] research of my own on the Belfast parade today. When collating the results below we took the respondents answers and categorised them into one of a number of set replies. Armed with clipboard in hand and my wingman for the day DMcC we surveyed just over 100 people at the event to see what they thought of the spectacle…Results follow,
1. How often would you say you attend the 12th July Parade?
Every year 65%
Most years 25%
First time 7%
Overwhelming it seems that spectators are ‘as loyal’ as the marchers in their attendance of the event with 90% going to the parade most years.
2. What does the 12th mean to you?
It’s just tradition 34%
Part of my Protestant Culture 36%
Celebration of historic victory 3%
It’s part of a religious festival 5%
Just a good day out / holiday 20%
On this question few people mentioned past victories or the religious nature of the event but the figure of one in five thinking of it as a ‘good day out’ indicates that maybe some people are buying in to the Orangefest concept and attending the spectacle without directly supporting the concepts behind it.
3. Why have you come to watch the Twelfth today?
Family or friends are parading 25%
It’s a family day out 42%
I’m celebrating my heritage 20%
Cause we always do 8%
I’m sure you can analyse these results in any number of ways. I personally was slightly surprised at the number of families attending and also the fact that nearly 50% of respondents saw it primarily as a ‘family day out’.
I noticed quite a police presence at the bottom of the Lisburn Road [where the survey was carried out] and there certainly was enforcement of the no alcohol policy. The PSNI had even brought two blue wheelie bins for the confiscated bottles but were getting little action. Anecdotally, of the people I surveyed about 5-10% were either drinking or had some alcohol in the vicinity.
I would imagine different results would be found if the survey took place at a country demonstration and perhaps next year we’ll repeat the exercise and see what those differences are. We told all respondents that we were conducting research for a political and cultural blog site called Slugger O’Toole. Only 1 person mentioned Slugger as ‘full of taigs’ [oh well]
I’m aware that the results are not overly insightful but they do give some notion of how often people go to the twelfth, why they go and how they identify with it.
Born and living in Northern Ireland, I’m a Lecturer by trade and a pragmatic Unionist by design. Interests include Middle Eastern / African politics, British cinema and sea fishing!