Back to square one…………

Yesterdays Belfast Telegraph featured comment from David Hagan, a member of a Loyalist Flute band on the Shankill Road, the Regimental Band Association and a Committee member of the Confederation of Ulster Bands. Note: The Confederation of Ulster Bands is an umbrella body for a number of localised band associations from across Northern Ireland, with a membership exceeding 350 bands and over 10’000 people.
In the piece he accused the newly appointed Parades Commission members this year of having “put their nose against anything that the unionist community is doing”, and by virtue of the nature of 2011 determinations, bringing the Northern Ireland parading issue “back to square one when the problems started in 1995 or 1996.”
This weekend has no less than four events deemed to be worthy of highlighting by the Parades Commission, though most are off the media radar by virtue of being ‘old news’. Competition and fundraising band processions in Maghera and Downpatrick, Belfast Pride and the weekly Portadown Drumcree Protest are all deemed sensitive. (Interestingly however a Republican band parade in Dungiven is not, despite its overt paramilitary nature and it being apparent that its route has been deliberately arranged to pass one of the two local Protestant Churches)
Belfast Pride has brought yet again a new dynamic to parade comment during the last week. Effectively those that oppose or have reservations about the parade (citing the overtly sexual nature of many participants), have been told ‘get over it’.
In his recently published book on Ulster Marching Bands, author Darach MacDonald (an unashamed Irish Nationalist, Gaelic enthusiast and GAA stalwart) ended the work by stating on parades “choosing to be entertained… rather than affronted, is the secret to a shared future.”
Is it not time to take a new approach to parades? Is there not an easy answer to all grievance? Why not just enjoy when you want to and ignore when you don’t?

Would the world end?

  • between the bridges

    Q my own experience of the PAC is that they are more about ‘looking good’ than finding any solutions.
    St Patrick’s parade day in enniskillen had no PAC restriction or ‘recommendations’re when where or what bands could play. Because of the stop start nature of the parade one band was stopped outside the RC chapel (located opposite the C of I cathedral) for 15min and played a number of tunes. yet 3 weeks later when many of the same bands took part in a band parade the PAC deemed fit to release an ‘open letter’ to press etc with recommendation that no band play while passing the local RC chapel.
    The Pac had a province wide ‘road show’ ‘The Parades Commission has decided to hold a number of public meetings to discuss with interested parties the issue of parading and the procedures under which the Commission operates. This is part of making the work of the Commission more open to all of the community in Northern Ireland, and discuss ways in which the process of notifying a public procession can be made easier.’
    along with several others I went to discuss various issues and make recommdations re 11/1 forms etc, we need not have bothered wasting our time as it was a tea and biscuit junket and an opportunity for the PAC to get photo’s in local papers. Others may have already known this and decided not to attend because as one of the commissioners informed me the best represented group at all the venues were the vintage cars associations….

    as for Darach MacDonald’s book ‘ Blood & Thunder: Inside an Ulster Protestant Band’ i can highly recommend this book to anyone who wants an insight to the marching band culture.

    http://www.culturenorthernireland.org/article/3392/book-review-blood-thunder

  • lamhdearg

    “Why not just enjoy when you want to and ignore when you don’t?”.
    Hear Hear.
    i wonder will Someone go down to the Dungiven parade with a camara and take some pics of the ira bands passing the proddy churches, for as sure as i am a pain in the a**, the press (bbc utv) won’t be there to capture it.
    I will just ignore it.

  • aquifer

    The parades commission is there because previously the public order consideration applied by the police tended to lead to those who threatened most disorder getting their way. This incentive scheme for bully boys tended to lead to the catholic community losing confidence in law and order.

    Men is sashes subverting the british state, pretending that there can be second class british citizens and boosting irish separatism.

    Play us a wee scottish tune lads.

    ‘bye bye baby bye bye’

  • Chris Donnelly

    Quincy
    There are a few dubious assertions included in Mr Hagan’s contributions which I’ll deal with below.

    1. The claim that the Parades Commission have “put their nose against anything that the unionist community is doing” is infantile and a comment unworthy of an individual seeking to be treated seriously.

    Once again, faced with the challenge of articulating an argument in favour of their stance, it would appear that a loyalist spokesperson has resorted to the alienation narrative which has proven ridiculously easy to dismiss due to the absence of any credible evidence to the contrary.

    There must be hundreds of loyalist parades which are not deemed contentious. Indeed, the disparity between the number of republican and loyalist parades which are deemed contentious arises pure and simply from the fact that republicans do not (for the most part) seek confrontation by organising the routing of their parades into non-catholic districts.

    2. Mr Hagan’s grasp of history would appear to be limited as any loyalist worth his salt will know that Loyal Order parades have proven contentious in Ireland for centuries- Dolly’s Brae anyone?

    3. Your challenge to promote tolerance of Orange marches would have more value were you willing to accept that unionists need to display a reciprocal willingness to invite expressions of Irish republican/ nationalist politics and culture within what might be perceived broadly as ‘protestant unionist’ communities and districts.

    As I’ve suggested on Slugger before, it would be truly refreshing were loyalists to invite republicans to march from Legoniel to Ardoyne through Ballysillan at Easter time as a reciprocal gesture for agreeing to support loyalist parades through the Crumlin Road- Ardoyne interface.

    That is where the real challenge lies, and the foundation of McDonald’s shared future will be an acceptance of the equal legitimacy of our political traditions and- hopefully- a reciprocal willingness to provide space for such expressions.

    Consequently, the Orange strategy of constant aggravation in areas like Portadown goes against that ideal, as does the very notion of pursuing with campaigns to march where one is not welcome on grounds which can only be interpreted as seeking to get one over on the other lot.

  • PJ Maybe

    McDonald’s shared future? Do you want fries with that?

  • between the bridges

    Chris…”The claim that the Parades Commission have “put their nose against anything that the unionist community is doing” is infantile and a comment unworthy of an individual seeking to be treated seriously”….where as the claim that the PSNI is targeting only CNR community is of course fact because YOU say so…cry me a river…

  • Chris Donnelly

    the claim that the PSNI is targeting only CNR community is of course fact because YOU say so

    Bridges
    ‘Where’ did I make such a claim?If you are refrring to the PSNI’s arrest rate regarding the summer rioting, I have rather comprehensively shown how the PSNI have indeed arrested some loyalists in *some* parts of the Six Counties.

    But the real aspect of that story is their apparent refusal to take on loyalists in south East Antrim: hence the apology, subsequent refusal to intervene as flags erected to intimidate were replaced, and then the failure to arrest and charge a solitary individual in the interim with regard to the serious rioting in that region.

    But your post at least illustrates the distinction between substantive points made with supporting evidence and a groundless rant which suffers from the absence of credible evidence.

  • between the bridges

    Chris…’But your post at least illustrates the distinction between substantive points made with supporting evidence and a groundless rant which suffers from the absence of credible evidence.’….
    Ah….. rather more geographic definition of your ‘claims’ in that post than your blog. But the fact remains that your in-depth cherry picking of which riots to use to ‘prove’ your ‘claim’ somewhat diminishes your illustration…. ps don’t forget rule one of the keyboard Jedi….. don’t let them know they got to you!!!

  • BloodThunder

    Good post, Quincey. There is little understanding of unionist parading culture amongst unionism’s enemies and there is no desire to change this. Parades are an easy target for those wishing to offload their prejudices against unionists. Nationalist parades, as much a part of Irish history and the unionist equivalent, are simply ignored altogether.

  • AntrimObserver

    The typical loyalist argument can be summed up as follows:

    “Themmuns is gettin’ everyfing, so they is – and we’re gettin’ naffin!”

    Cue several nights rioting. Followed by an injection of ‘peace money’ to fund the employment of a few shadowy characters – the criteria for whose selection remains unclear. Then relative relative peace for a few years until this money runs out, then it’s “themmuns is gettin’ everything so they is” all over again…

    They’re a sad, pathetic bunch really. More to be pitied than feared. Like an angry, wounded, snarling dog suddenly reduced to a whimpering slobbering mess when thrown a dirty old bone…

  • lamhdearg

    get it out of you antrim, you wil lsleep better tonight now.

  • Dullypicker

    Round of applause for you there AntrimObserver,what a well informed and insightful comment, you must be so proud of yourself for such an educated and highfalutin statement.

    I presume the rioting to which you are referring is that of a few weeks back in East Belfast?
    If so, then, why yes, the reason for “The worst rioting in this country for over a decade” can simply be boiled down to :-
    “Themmuns is gettin’ everyfing, so they is – and we’re gettin’ naffin!”

    as you put it, and of course, had nothing whatsoever to do with tolerance wearing thin within working class Loyalism, for the nightly orchestrated attacks on a defenceless community of old people and young single parent families by ‘youths’ from the Short Strand.

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/community-telegraph/east-belfast/news/attack-on-girl-blamed-for-trouble-16015238.html

    You may view all loyalists as uneducated knuckle dragger’s crawling from the kennel every so often as a last hurrah before rolling over to die, however the Bull Dog that is beaten every day, may well wag it’s tail and comply for a while, but when it has had enough of being mistreated, it will surely snap and become an altogether more dangerous beast, capable of making itself heard and should indeed be treated with caution. The Ulster Workers Strike, and Drumcree being examples of just how dangerous that beast can be in bringing the country to its knees to make its point.
    I in no way condone such events of violence and disorder, but I believe you are foolish to tar all Loyalists with the one brush and the manner in which you discount them above is highly offensive to anyone from that community with an educated opinion or otherwise.

    How would you account for or justify the more recent rioting over the 12th weekend, where again Nationalist ‘Youths’ ruthlessly attack the PSNI with no regard for life or property of others, in order to show their displeasure at the ‘Loyalists’ celebrating their culture???

    http://www.u.tv/News/In-Video-Riot-car-turned-into-fireball/b51decad-9ee4-4904-a894-9ca93a621545

    To quote you again, “They’re a sad, pathetic bunch really. More to be pitied than feared.”