Today thousands of members of the Orange Order will descend upon Rosnowlagh, County Donegal to participate in the annual twelfth celebrations that historically take place on the Saturday preceding the twelfth of July. The most remarkable thing about this event is how unremarkable it is.
Cross the border a few miles to Newtownbutler, and all of a sudden a small number of elderly men who have lived in the community all their lives become dangerous triumphalists, who must be prevented from engaging in the hugely offensive act of following an accordion or silver band down the road playing hymns or some innocuous tune.
Granted while not all parades are as inoffensive as Newtownbutler, the vast majority are carried out respectfully with people engaging in their culture which others may dislike, but could at least try to respect.
I myself will be in Crumlin which we attend as the host district once every fourteen years. Hardly repeated rubbing the other sides nose in it. For the life of me I cannot see the logic in allowing 4,000 people to parade to the field and then have 3,500 walking back on the footpaths. It will cause the police a huge headache.
The opposition to such parades is so counterproductive to the outreach work being carried out by Sinn Fein. Declan Kearney’s recent pronunciations are rendered to dust by what people in the Unionist tradition would see as the bigotry they would be exposed to in an united Ireland.
If that is how we are treated now what might we expect hopelessly outnumbered in an all Ireland is the question in many people’s lips. The idiotic comparisons to Klu Klux Klan and the like only further demonstrate the bigotry and ignorance of republicans to what the Orange Order is really about.
It is all rather unfortunate that Northern republicans cannot control themselves as real progress has been made South of the border, the Boyne Interpretive Centre, recognition of the role of the 16th Irish Division in World War 1, pardons for World War 2 Irishmen who chose to fight the Nazis rather than stand idly by.
The bottom line is that the more Orange feet are prevented from using the Queens Highway, the less likelihood there is for any outreach efforts by Sinn Fein being viewed in a positive light, in spite of the handshake. This is literally where the rubber hits the road.