A victory…. for tolerance and respect

Cormeen Rising Sons of William press release following the success of their 8th annual band procession, this year held in Armagh City:-

The Cormeen Rising Sons of William Flute Band sincerely thank all those who contributed to making their St Patrick’s evening band procession in Armagh a success. Despite certain groups attempting to ratchet up tensions the evening passed off peacefully and a great display of music and colour was enjoyed by all.

The event started shortly after half past 7, stopping well before the 10.30pm finish time stipulated by the Parades Commission. In all 43 bands participated, with excellent crowds lining the procession route. In terms of active participants, the musicians, the evening actually surpassed the Dublin celebrations!

There were a number of minor public order incidents, as would be expected every St Patrick’s Day, however the atmosphere within the City generally was very relaxed. Regretfully a hoax bomb intended to disrupt the band procession caused major disruption to the afternoon parade and to the City business community in what are difficult economic times. At all other times traffic moved freely with no significant disruption.

The band would very forcefully refute those who claim that the evening event was responsible for a negative effect on other festivities during the day. As planned, the evening parade took place over 3 hours after all other City Centre events had finished, with the sole disruption a direct result of those who have been making dire predictions and veiled threats of widescale public disorder.

The night has been a great triumph for tolerance and respect, and is a credit to the vast majority of the Nationalist community in the City. The majority of Irish Nationalists recognise the positive aspects of the Unionist community celebrating the life and legacy of Patrick, and appreciate the importance of ensuring that exclusion of cultural expression is no longer an acceptable way forward.

The band has already began planning for next years parade, scheduled for Saturday 16th March, and would appeal for all to come together well in advance to discuss and make use of the positive aspects of the evening for the City and local community. The way to ensure a shared future on this island is not via melding all our unique traditions into one large bland mass, but via respect and tolerance for each others very different approaches to cultural expression.

  • between the bridges

    BP what are your views on the scouts holding their own parade because they couldn’t/wouldn’t conform with the requirements of the funded parade?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    In my view, the Scout parade did not cause the decent people of Armagh, Catholic and Protestant alike, to opt of of St Patrick’s Day this year, en masse. The Scout parade did not cause the mass cancellations to restaurants, or pubs to close early, or for most of the young people in the town to go elsewhere for their night out.

    Something else caused all that.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Anyway, Mick’s right about one thing. My blood is up. Upset children have that effect on me.

    I’ve said my piece. Time to withdraw from this thread.

    Best wishes to you all.

  • between the bridges

    BP have you anything to back up your claims? so it’s safe to say you have no problem with anyone other than the cultural bands having a separate parade? as for ”Something else caused all that”…aye two bomb devices and hype by political representative’s who only called for ‘calm’ at the eleventh hour…

  • Mick Fealty

    Bill,

    I buy that on scouts who are generally understood and respected on both sides of the community, even if they are separately organised.

    But it is also clear that whatever people’s legitimate fears were, the cause of the economic cost was the planting of the bomb and the wider reaction to it.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Plausible arguments abound as ever on Slugger. Always an audience for those willing to argue black is but a darker shade of white etc.

    Yet it still boils down to this, in spite of Mick et al’s best efforts to suggest otherwise.

    A republican parade near the venue of loyalist parades on July 12th would be regarded as an incendiary act, calculated to aggravate unionists on the day when they celebrate their British identity.

    The evidence has been presented to expose the motivations of the band organisers as being cynically premised on a tissue of lies.

    The net result of the loyalist action was, as Billy points out, that many people feared a violent confrontation in Armagh and simply made alternative plans.

    As has been said before, were the loyalists actually interested in simply commemorating the occasion, or indeed staking a claim to the British and protestant identity of Patrick, then they could have simply continued with the established tradition of marching where they had done for many years (safe in the knowledge that, for many other days throughout the year, Orange and loyalist feet would parade through Armagh.)

    They didn’t because respecting the legitimacy of the Irish nationalist tradition remains a problem for too many within unionism.

  • between the bridges

    CD,”As has been said before, were the loyalists actually interested in simply commemorating the occasion, or indeed staking a claim to the British and protestant identity of Patrick”…do you actually know of anywhere better than the cathedral city to stake such claims? http://www.stpatricks-cathedral.org/

    shared future old chap!

  • JR

    I think one thing that all nationalists feel is the mismatch between the tolerance Unionists expect and the Tolerance they are prepared to give.

    There is no comparably intrusive cultural activity on the Nationalist side so it is hard to draw comparisons.

    As someone said above they are happy with Nationalist culture so long as it is not too intrusive. That stance is a bit hypocritical when the Unionist Marching culture is by definition intrusive.

  • babyface finlayson

    Chris Donnelly
    You keep on making the comparison to a hypothetical republican band marching on the 12th.
    Do you see St Patrick’s Day as the equivalent to the 12th for nationalists, and as such to be kept separate?
    Personally I don’t.
    A little bit of negotiation would allow for a peaceful cross community celebration.

  • Mick Fealty

    This for me JR is the key to the mismatch of expectation:

    “There is no comparably intrusive cultural activity on the Nationalist side so it is hard to draw comparisons.”

    So whilst I understand the reference to the scouts and the tricolour no one feels intimidated by the scouts because we all know what it is they do and the service the offer kids.

    The band culture is less well understood and has negative connotations with the past for many Catholics. But I don’t believe that fear can in itself justify a banning order.

  • between the bridges

    JR ‘if’ there was a more ”intrusive cultural activity on the Nationalist side”, would unionists be correct in objecting to this ‘intrusiveness’ in a shared/neutral/non residential town centre?

  • “Plausible arguments abound as ever on Slugger.”

    Chris, I don’t think you can be fairly accused of making a plausible argument on behalf of your old PRM friends. July 12 for the Orange Order has its smaller counterpart in the Ancient Order of Hibernians August 15 parades. March 17 here is commemorated by the Catholic and CoI churches but AFAIK not by other Christian sects.

    The Catholic scouts and the Cormeen bands parade organisers both decided to opt-out of the Council organised festivities; perhaps both in the future will feel able to participate in the main event. However, Conor Murphy’s initial huffing and puffing about one of these opt-outers will have added to the seemingly mainly PRM generated and fuelled hysteria; his later call for calm was most probably too late. His actions indicate that the PRM flip on the PRM’s ‘war by other means’ has led to confusion in the PRM narrative; ‘cynically premised on a tissue of lies’ is an expression of that confusion.

  • “The band culture is less well understood”

    I wonder if the changes in band culture over the past twenty or so years have been researched, including the impact of what I might call the the PRM’s Athboy strategy. It seems to me that some bands now would have more of an association with paramilitary organisations than with the Loyal Orders. The use of the term ‘loyalist parade’ lacks the nuance to describe the wide spectrum of bands that participate in these evening parades. This spectrum may well be replicated in the nationalist orientated marching bands.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Mick

    ‘Less well understood’ is rather mischievous.

    It is pretty well understood, and that is part of the problem.

    After all, there is no rational reason to seek to march where one is not welcome as part of the celebration of a cultural identity.

    In Ardoyne, that has meant loyalist paramilitary bands marching beneath a banner named for a loyalist killed minutes after killing a local catholic.

    I’d say people have little problem understanding that.

    In Springfield Rd, that means actually opening up the peace wall to allow loyalists to infringe on ‘the other’ s side for no other godly reason than to antagonise.

    In Coleraine, that means still trying to bring a band with numerous members implicated in a sectarian murder of a local catholic into contentious areas (incidentally, on that shared inclusive culture, perhaps you’d do well to remember that loyalists in Coleraine used the presence of a solitary tricolour in the town as an excuse for the murder.)

    And, of course, in Portadown, it means still whining 5,000 days later because they can’t annoy the Garvaghy Road catholics (apparently the lesson of the Quinn children has not been long forgotten.)

    And we could go on, and on, and on….

    It is, I’m afraid, a case of being far too well understood.

    The challenge stands. If, and indeed, when, unionism reveals itself to be prepared to play host to reciprocal republican commemorations- complete with republican bands etc- then a much, much stronger case can be made for moving towards a culture which is defined by mutual respect and tolerance.

    The asymmetrical nature of the current situation means that is not likely. Therefore it is for those- like Quincey et al- to show just why nationalists are apparently ‘misunderstanding’ this band culture.

    And I’d contend that seeking to aggravate ‘the other’ by erecting loyalist flags in Limavady and organising controversial marches in Armagh on the day traditionally associated with a celebration of an Irish identity is not really the best way.

  • lamhdearg2

    Chris, can you explain what the murder of the Quinn children had to do with loyalist bands.

  • babyface finlayson

    Chris Donnelly
    “The challenge stands. If, and indeed, when, unionism reveals itself to be prepared to play host to reciprocal republican commemorations- complete with republican bands etc- then a much, much stronger case can be made for moving towards a culture which is defined by mutual respect and tolerance.”
    Surely that only holds true if St Patrick’s Day is accepted as solely a republican commemoration.
    Whatever the rights and wrongs of Saturday’s parade, Unionists have a right to celebrate the Irish part of their identity too. Why not work to make it inclusive?

  • tyrone_taggart

    “Thus, in view of many Republicans it is an inalienable right to breach a local agreement in Downpatrick by hoisting a Tricolour in the midst of a cross community parade.”

    Was that not last year? You make a clam about the view of Republicans which I do not see much evidence to support.

    Which town controlled by nationalist parties insist that the Irish national flag is allowed in the st Patrick’s day parade of the town to which they control?

  • ForkHandles

    erm, sorry to but in with a bit of reason….

    St Patricks days is not a day for nationalism related to the ROI. It is a day for Irish people to celebrate their Irishness, which is these days related to the man called St Patrick in some unknown way ! 🙂 If people in NI want to have an event that suits their version of Irishness then that is entirely ok. I really despair to see the Nat/Reps try to attack anything that isn’t their own Gaelic anti British anti protestant ‘culture’ , it’s really caveman like to feel the need to oppose anything that you don’t identify with. Honestly, it’s so backward. I have lived in a country with many different nationalities for the last few years. No one feels the need to oppose someone else’s celebration of their culture etc. Why do Nats/Reps feel the need to try and oppose the unionist Irish identity? Why on St Patricks day, and why on any other day of the year? Why can’t they just live and let live?

    Really all the rantings on slugger are down to the individuals own hatred. Really backward and embarrassing for the rest of us from NI !

  • tyrone_taggart

    ForkHandles:

    In the organised event all Bands are treated equally so why are you complaining about people being treated differently?

  • Barnshee

    “The Catholic scouts and the Cormeen bands parade organisers both decided to opt-out of the Council organised festivities;”

    Robert Baden-Powell founded the Scout movement as a youth organisation (with boys as ‘Scouts’ and girls as ‘Guides’), which was independent of any single faith or religion, yet still held that spirituality and a belief in a higher power were key to the development of young people.

    “Catholic “or “protestant” ” Scouts” are not Scouts

  • Barnshee, have you not heard of CBSI?

  • Barnshee

    Nevin

    Yep heard about it –it joined with real scouts to form scouting ireland.

    repeats

    Robert Baden-Powell founded the Scout movement as a youth organisation (with boys as ‘Scouts’ and girls as ‘Guides’), which was independent of any single faith or religion

    The “Catholic” scout thing caused problems— from memory there were moves by Scouting to prevent the “catholic ” scouts from using the term since it offended the “independence of any single faith” aspect.

    http://www.scouts.ie/more/about_scouting_ireland/history_of_scouting_ireland-177.html