Last year I wrote a post on the 12th which has several times since been taken out of context… You can see it here. In it I argued, simply enough as I thought, that the 12th of July belongs to all of us. By which I meant that as much as Orangemen should be permitted to march, non Orange citizens are entitled to their non Orange day too
In the meantime, this was the year a senior Orangeman had to remind patriotic Irishmen and Irishwomen that the third colour in the tricolour is Orange.
The intended symbolism of the flag may have become ‘misplaced’ in recent times, but the term res publica from which the modern term republicanism arises, also means public affair or space. The openness and right of access to public space for safe demonstration or protest is a key right in any democracy, or indeed republic.
In that regard, as I noted last year…
…it might pay all (Republican as well as Unionist) to remember they and their tradition cannot not completely own any date on the calendar. So to all, a happy and safe 12th of July whatever you’re doing and whatever it means to you…
Given recent history, political tolerance remains a tall order in some places more than others. In Ardoyne the current peace settlement is a tough sell for constitutional republicans like Gerry Kelly than in the more settled and broader republican heartland of west Belfast. The annual riots there are just one end of problematic political wedge.
But if the peace is to hold and deepen in the longer term, republicanism must develop a realistic road map to the future and one that is every bit as conditioned to sustaining a long peace as it once steeled itself for a long war.
Over the summer, call it a virtual summer school if you like, I’ll be looking for considered blog essays (between 1500-2000 words) that begin to probe what a vibrant Republican political future might need, and what paths it might usefully chart. It’s similar to what we did with our Lisbon essay series, only each one I hope will be longer, and not as many.
The idea is not to solve the problem of what a Republican future might look like, but to begin turning over the hard packed down clay to see what lies beneath… I’ll kick off early next week with a consideration of the influence of conflict from the foundation year of the Northern Irish state onward.
If you are interested and you think you would like to contribute, ping me an email at: [email protected]
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty