Returning to the Problem of Incentives: An Ardoyne Twelfth

Last year, I wrote a piece in relation to the apparatus of the Parades Commission, arguing that the fundamental flaw of its operation lay in its core assumptions concerning the parading issue and its lack of a coherent regulatory framework in taking decisions. That piece detailed how the process of regulating parades focused entirely on parade participants and due to this limited frame of reference, did not properly design a system of incentives which rewarded good behaviour and punished bad behaviour in a logical, consistent manner across all interested parties.

So, we turn to the decision in relation to the stretch of the Crumlin Road skirting the edge of the Ardoyne area. Last year, significant restrictions were placed on the return parade, including prohibitions on music and a highly strict timetable for return by the some 800 metres of space deemed to be contentious. The Order and associated bands complied with this ruling in full, walking silently past with a much reduced number of men with the banners of the local lodges. Intense rioting subsequently occurred in the nearby nationalist district of Ardoyne.

Looking at this case objectively, if the behaviour of ALL interested parties within the parading dispute was being scrutinised, a ruling which took into account the importance of the rule of law would not reward the destructive behaviour of republican rioters. The decision of the PC this year simply returns us to the  ransom of the apparent rationale behind parades decisions- whomsoever can create significant public disorder is likely to be appeased with a ruling in their favour.

Or perhaps not. The Belfast Telegraph reports this morning (although not yet online) from a senior source within the Parades Commission:

“The general public need to see- as in the flag protests- consequences for breaking the law. The only determination which the police appear to be able to enforce on the day of the event is a route restriction; this does not bode well for the future as far as parading organisations are concerned.”

Again, the differential impact on parading organisations can be seen- serious disorder does not affect the standing, integrity or right of residents groups to object to parades, but loyalist rioting is likely to lead to further parade bans in the future. This imbalance undermines the moral authority of leaders within the unionist and orange constituency to address the wrongdoing of some of their own members, as justice is not seen to be meted out consistently.

The arbitrary nature of some resistance to parades exacerbates this frustration. In particular, although Chris Donnelly talks of the Londonderry Twelfth as a success in a largely nationalist city, which could be added to Newtownhamilton in South Armagh and Rasharkin in North Antrim, he doesn’t address the core implication of this admission. That implication is that there must be deeper political motivations behind unrest than simply offence being taken at the parades per se. It is difficult to sustain an argument that nationalist south Armagh is any different in feeling than nationalist north Belfast.

Such an admission must necessarily defeat the notion, articulated by Fionnuala O’Connor in the Irish News, that “Orange parading has always been an act of belligerence dressed up.” Malachi O’Doherty has sought to contradict the baselessness of such notions by focusing on the good intentions of many expressing their religious and cultural identity through Orangeism. The complexity of the politics of parading is defeated by comforting myths.

Mick has this morning charted this deeper story in a north Belfast constituency marred by low level ethnic jostling over housing and territory. This story of the political leverage gained in exploiting sectarian feeling is not isolated in Belfast. The sudden appearance of a ‘concerned residents’ collective in Dungiven to protest against an annual church parade without any bands, banners or flags, occurred in the aftermath of scrutiny over an annual republican procession in the town last year.

As a result, the justification of “causing offence” as a panacea to explain opposition to loyal order parades masks significant political motivations to demoralise and marginalise certain traditions in vulnerable areas and the importance of local power plays as a key element in determining when parade contention is both maximised and minimised.

This asymmetrical equation means that republicans have incentives to attack the working class loyalist base in its continuing soft spot, dragging political unionism back into the perceived role of ethnic defenders and thus restricting its ability to appeal beyond their traditional base. Unionism is then left with a Hobson’s Choice. Condemn from a distance and be portrayed as abandoning a disgruntled and destabilising section of the population, or try to articulate a case in defence of anger and stand accused of blind ethno-nationalist politics.

The consequence is a ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ situation for republican objectors to parades in a situation in which their own potentially malign political motivations are not scrutinised in a fair system of reward and sanction. The well-worn and counterproductive tactic of direct protest with no strategic direction by the Orange Order is made more damaging by the wholesale riot reflex and the present inability of the loyalist working class to appreciate the value of peaceful, restrained protest.

What the Orange Institution and others must recognise is that this deep ambiguity in relation to violence is systemic, one of the unresolved legacies of the peace process. Janus-faced political leadership is the cry when unionist politicians bark at the moon and call for the end of the Parades Commission, yet the lauding of IRA “heroes” in Londonderry by the Deputy First Minister escapes such close and detailed scrutiny.

The implicit view is that such rhetorical twists are part of managing a constituency, an aspect of ‘internal housekeeping’ to guarantee the commitment of former radicals to peace. The result is the politics of the lowest common denominator, where “keeping the peace” is always defined to be pleasing those who have abandoned a violent past, at least in actions if not always in rhetoric. This quiet consensus was recently upset however, by the passing of the SPAD Bill at Stormont, indicating that opportunities exist for a strong moral case to be made for some ‘red lines’ against this cosy ambivalence to the needs of former paramilitaries setting the agenda.

The present risk however, for political unionism is that the moral relativism at the heart of constructions of ‘peace’ in Northern Ireland  becomes employed by unionists and orangemen in a tit for tat spiral. In this space, violence is described as inevitable as the political class wearily accepts its recurrence, with leadership ceded to the mob by default due to a state of resignation and powerlessness.

This not only subverts the moral case of the loyal orders in this dispute, it damages the wider image of unionism by allowing its horizons to continue to be narrowly set by its opponents. ‘Off with the heads’ of the Parades Commission is a reflex, not a political strategy and this only serves to channel anger against an institution, not the underlying political and philosophical problem.

Only when such a strategy to contextualise the wider politics of parading disputes and to eliminate the incentives for bad behaviour on all sides is offered by the Orange Order or wider political unionism can the sense of a debilitating powerlessness in the face of violence be brought to an end. Re-asserting some control of the debate means accepting that the rules of the game do not always have to be set by one’s opponents. In the meantime, destructive disorder, both violent and political, reigns.

  • Ulster Press Centre

    The only way this spiralling violence can be halted is with a public apology from the Parades Commission, the reversal of their earlier sectarian decision re: Crumlin Road allowing the Orangemen to return home and a swift agreement from our politicians that those who show respect and tolerance will be rewarded – and those who riot, attack police, fire automatic rifles, etc will be punished.

    It’s not rocket science.

  • Obelisk

    UPC

    So the only way the spiralling violence can be halted is by complete capitulation to the rioter’s demands?

    Let me guess, when its complete capitulation to Republican rioting it’s bad and pandering to Sinn Fein, when its complete capitulation to Loyalist rioting it’s common sense and ‘not rocket science’.

    In all seriousness, do you ever stop to ponder if your hypocrisy is what keeps you from being taken more seriously?

  • Ulster Press Centre

    Obelisk: So the only way the spiralling violence can be halted is by complete capitulation to the rioter’s demands?

    That is the message the PC, PSNI and SOS sent out last week – you can’t fault the rioters for taking it on board.

    After realising their huge mistake has caused people to believe violence pays, they must swiftly apologise and reverse their decision and ensure those who obey restrictions are rewarded from now on – not the lawbreakers.

  • Wot! No sackcloth and ashes?
    What brings these annual riots (usually by “republican” youths) to an end is the first jail sentences handed out to the initial arrestees, thus ending their employment or, if unemployed, usually ensuring their future inability to get jobs. The less audacious or those who have run out of beer money then “wise up”.

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    I’ve purposely not posted until now as it’s such an emotive subject in NI that I thought I’d wait and let the dust settle.

    Firstly, I suppose the obvious point is that the parades commission are in a no-win situation. Whatever they come up with will almost inevitably result in fairly significant dissorder as witnessed year in, year out so I do feel sympathy for them. When it comes to descisions like this I always think their best chance is to annoy both sides equally which they almost did last year. The problem being that the OO had to go crazely out of their way which incensed residents (not that it would have taken much).
    Ultimately, the OO did pretty much exactly what they asked and I guess that is why they were pretty aggrieved this year and of course on the backdrop of the flegs issue, it was pretty clear what was going to happen.

    The OO and Unionist politicians certainly inflamed the situation IMHO – basically telling loyalists that the PC rewarded violence so go forth and create mahem. Well, not quite but with no clear protect strategy as such then that was always what was going to happen.

    Ultimately the only resolution as we have heard ad naseum is for some local resolution. Certainly there are other sensitive ‘hot spots’ in NI which seem to have managed to do this so there is certainly hope. However, based on the last couple of years you’d have to be sceptical.

    From a unionist perspective, i certainly see no reason why the OO shouldn’t go into dialogue and perhaps call SF’s bluff….

    Ultimately, there will always need to be come body to oversee such discussions and make the hard decisions when local agreements cannot be reached. Perhaps if they had a ‘rule book’ or made it clearer how determinations were made then at least everyone would be clear on what to work towards.
    e.g. you get rewarded for no violence and adherring to their restictions and you get rewarded for entering meaningful dialogue throughout the year.

    Tough one to crack though.

  • Big Island Exile

    So the EDL recently tried to march through Woolwich via the East London mosque and the Met banned it for fear that it would “result in serious public disorder and serious disruption to the life of the community”
    The Met did offer them two alternative, less contentious routes, but were refused. It seems as if cowardice in the face of threats of violence from religious fundamentalists against peaceful demonstrators is irrefutably British.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Despite threats from those who would “not be the generation to fail Ulster” the flag protests have petered away and the council decision on designated days stands.

    The “spiralling violence” instigated this year by loyalists has also petered out. Each night since the 12th has been less violent than the night before, and this evening there are no reports of trouble or roadblocks at all. UPC’s pals down at Mount Vernon can just about corral the local kids to burn a few wheelie bins. That’s it.

  • Ulster Press Centre

    Comrade Stalin: The “spiralling violence” instigated this year by loyalists has also petered out. Each night since the 12th has been less violent than the night before, and this evening there are no reports of trouble or roadblocks at all. UPC’s pals down at Mount Vernon can just about corral the local kids to burn a few wheelie bins.

    Why is this man-playing allowed? Are the rules on this site enforced, or not?

  • michael-mcivor

    ” the EDL recently tried to march through woolwich via the East London mosque and the met banned it ”

    Big Island Exile-

    And rightly so-the irony is that the EDL would never march past that mosque without a police escort just like the orange order would never march past the Ardoyne shops without a police escort-they are fighting with the police that they want to escort them-

  • Comrade Stalin

    Why is this man-playing allowed? Are the rules on this site enforced, or not?

    You said it yourself, it’s a pro-Sinn Féin site. What do you expect ? Have you been onto NI Screen yet ?

  • Better Together

    Anything on the wider politics of the piece, folks?

  • Pasty

    So The DUP are wanting the Orange Order on board for a new body to replace the Parades Commission, exactly what will happen WHEN the new body “Parades Commission Mk2” says NO to an Orange Parade, will Robinson, Dodds and McCausland be getting that body replaced ?

    What will happen when this new parades body says YES, due to Equality Law, for a Republican parade down the Crumlin Road from Ligoneill to Ardoyne and then back up again, will the Unionists defend the decisions ?

    There is to be interesting days ahead, McCausland failed to step up to the mark and answer the Republican parade question put to him by Gerry Kelly, ANY Unionist Politician out there like to provide an answer, will you defend the right of Republicans to Parade through the Unionist section of the Crumlin Road ?

  • David Crookes

    Point of fact from tonight’s BBC news.

    Four cars have been hijacked and set on fire during trouble in east Belfast on Tuesday.

    A number of petrol bombs were also thrown at police as large crowds gathered in the Lower Newtownards Road.

    A French press photographer was assaulted by rioters and had his camera stolen, police said.

    Police also deployed water cannon for a time in the Mount Vernon area of north Belfast.

    There were reports of disorder in the Woodvale Road and North Queen Street areas.

    A car was also set alight on the O’Neill Road in Newtownabbey, County Antrim.

    The trouble in east Belfast began just before 23:00 BST on Tuesday.

    Police have advised motorists and members of the public to avoid the affected areas.

  • Hopping The Border

    “There is to be interesting days ahead, McCausland failed to step up to the mark and answer the Republican parade question put to him by Gerry Kelly

    I would think Mr. McCausland is rather content with the DUP handling of this year’s cultural celebration, there isn’t so much chat about windows, party donors, coloured skies and interference with the hordes focused on the fallacy of how well themuns have it in Northern Ireland today.

    In relation to the post itself, can anyone provide even the base line model of a parades commission mark 2 that will be acceptable to the orange order?

    If their default position is “we won’t be told where we can and can’t march” then to be fair lads, get used to the current version.

  • Comrade Stalin

    This violence is being orchestrated by the UVF. It all kicked off at around the same time and it’s in all the places where the UVF are a dominating factor.

    Back to the thread. It’s a waste of time talking about what unionists want to replace the Parades Commission with until they publish their proposals. The reason why they haven’t published their proposals is frankly because they don’t have any. The OO already vetoed Peter Robinson over replacing the Parades Commission because the proposed replacement fundamentally would have been able to reroute parades just like the PC can. Effectively, the new body was to be called the “Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests Body”

    The OO are complaining that the PC is not locally accountable and that it is a quango. The suggestion is therefore that they think it should be a function of a governmental department (which the draft legislation had proposed – “Office of Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests”) .

    Which minister will control it ? It’ll have to be OFMDFM. (also in the draft)

    Who is appointed to sit on it ? Since it’s OFMDFM that means a bunch of nationalists, a bunch of unionists, a bunch of public sector types and a token Alliancer. (implied by the draft – the body was to have 11 members)

    What happens when it is split down the middle which it inevitably will be on issues such as Ardoyne ? The Alliancer holds the swing vote – and we all know how much the loyalists loved Alliance’s sense of compromise over the flags dispute.

    What happens if the Alliancer abstains and the committee can’t come to a decision ? The police make their own decision on public order grounds and you end up right where we were in 1995 where the Chief Constable banned the parade down Garvaghy Road.

    And frankly having seen the way the DUP attempted to use their appointee to push their agenda on the Housing Executive board I don’t think there is any way that we can trust political appointees over a sensitive matter such as parading. There can’t be any hint of external interference – and it is interesting that so far not even the OO have alleged that the Parades Commission is being led or instructed by politicians.

    If you start from scratch and try to design a new body that adjudicates parades where they are disputed, the answer you arrive at will look very similar to the Parades Commission.

  • Hopping The Border

    I appreciate that Comrade but I was hoping that Ulster’s (sic) self appointed PR Guru might shed some light on the bones of this new body as he sees it.

    As I think that unlikely I was hoping Drumlin’s Rock, Peter Brown, Quincey or even Minister McCausland (or any other marchers) might have some reasonable/debatable propositions.

  • Sweetcheeks

    ‘This violence is being orchestrated by the UVF. It all kicked off at around the same time and it’s in all the places where the UVF are a dominating factor.’

    Matthews and his fellow east Belfast UVF drug-pushers will be having tea and biscuits at Stormont by Friday.

  • Ulster Press Centre

    Hopping The Border: In relation to the post itself, can anyone provide even the base line model of a parades commission mark 2 that will be acceptable to the orange order?

    It’s not rocket science. Reward those who obey the law and abide by restrictions – and punish those who engage in threats, violence and terrorism.

  • Ulster Press Centre

    Comrade Stalin: This violence is being orchestrated by the UVF. It all kicked off at around the same time and it’s in all the places where the UVF are a dominating factor.

    You have absolutely no evidence to back up that sectarian claim. Indeed, the police and media have said the complete opposite.

    These riots are also occurring in areas with Iceland supermarkets – are they orchestrating it too???

  • Ulster Press Centre

    Sweetcheeks: Matthews and his fellow east Belfast UVF drug-pushers will be having tea and biscuits at Stormont by Friday.

    Perhaps they’ll be meeting Sinn Fein to see if their South American ‘representatives’ are planning on importing any more cocaine from Colombia? Or to see how the IRA’s relationship with mafia heroin dealers in southern Italy is working out these days?

  • Morpheus

    I have a source right here which says that high-ranking UVF and UDA members entertained Pablo Escabar and Frank from ‘American Gangster’ with a few pints at the Welders Club before heading to KFC. It must be true because I said it

  • Ulster Press Centre

    Are you saying Sinn Fein members weren’t caught in the Colombian cocaine factories alongside those who manufacture and export the stuff?

    Or that a senior IRA man is not currently on the run from Italian police for his involvement in laundering money alongside mafia heroin dealers??

    Do you ever read a newspaper ae charea?

  • DoppiaVu

    Very good analysis from BT, and some interesting responses.

    It’s clear that the Parades body must be independent of the politicos – CS’s post drives that point home.

    But it must also be made clear to everyone what criteria the body will use when making it’s decisions. By doing so, they set the rules. And those rules must (at a minimum) revolve around encouraging dialogue and heavily penalising those that particiapte in violence.

  • Morpheus

    UPC, I know where this is going to go but…

    EVIDENCE PLEASE?
    (Please mention General Tapias, I dares ya)

    DoppiaVu
    The problem with “heavily penalising those that participate in violence” is that the OO have continually demonstrated that they are willing to wind up their followers like clockwork toys then release them while they retire to their armchairs to watch what unfolds on TV and the followers amass their criminal records. When actual collerette wearers got involved in rioting the other night is rare but I don’t think there is any doubt who caused the whole thing.

    If the residents of Ardoyne are to be heavily penalized then it must equally be proven that those taken part are indeed residents of the Ardoyne.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Regulating parades should focus on parade organisers and participants as they are the ones creating the difficulty by proposing contentious parade routes. That is self-explanatory and should not be used to further the already dubious grievance tale concocted by loyalists around parading.

    The rewarding bad behaviour, punishing good behaviour narrative has been blown apart by the conduct of Loyal Orders and their supporters this 12th July and across Belfast since July 12th 2012. But, then, it never had any currency any way as it is an absurd premise given the asymmetrical nature of the encounter.

    For example, were republicans to organise a parade from Ligoneil to Ardoyne that was green-lighted by the Parades Commission, there would in all likelihood be a violent response from loyalism. Should that then guarantee into perpetuity subsequent annual republican parades along the route? What about from Ardoyne across Twaddell and North Circular Road to west Belfast?

    The last major parade decision that went against the Loyal Orders in north and west Belfast was the occasion for the last major orchestrated loyalist riots in the area (Whiterock riots 2005), when Orangemen were caught on camera attacking the PSNI and loyalist paramilitaries rioted for a number of days, shooting at the PSNI.

    Yet the Loyal Orders march on that very route now. Bad behaviour rewarded?

    I note you skirt past the overwhelming weight of evidence exposing the gratuitously sectarian nature of the conduct of both parade participants and their fellow 11th Night/ 12th revellers, but then the inconveniency of truth can be problematic.

    The unreciprocated tolerance displayed by majority nationalist communities in Derry and elsewhere towards the overtly political/cultural expression of unionism through hosting such parades is welcome, but suggesting that should be used to demand loyalist parades in every majority nationalist community is absurd and would not be countenanced were the shoe on the other foot- ie because a marginally majority unionist Kilkeel hosts a nationalist parade, should the centres of Lisburn, Bangor as well as loyalist Corcrain estate in Portadown host republican parades henceforward?

    But the weakest aspect of your narrative is asserting that republicans are ‘seeking to demoralise and marginalize certain traditions in vulnerable areas’ through parade opposition, making it difficult for unionist leaders to move beyond their role as ethnic defenders. Were that the case, republicans would not be adopting the Derry/ Newtownbutler/ Rasharkin positions as there are ‘vulnerable’ loyalists in the Fountain, in South Armagh (Willie Frazer’s bailiwick), whilst north Antrim is the constituency of the solitary dissident unionist MLA, Jim Allister.

    That is an attempt to shift blame from the unionist leaders who have failed miserably to lead their communities out of the ridiculous and callous position of believing in a bogus grievance narrative which so clearly has no basis in reality.

    Leaders lead, and it is clear that unionist politicians have been grossly negligent of their duties by failing to prepare their base for the new dispensation that is a shared north of Ireland/ Northern Ireland.

    The ‘apparatus’ of the Parades Commission is not the problem. The desire to return us all- even symbolically- to an era of Unionist dominance is, and the very demand for the abolition of the Commission by unionist politicians and the Loyal Orders illustrates a refusal to accept that there will always need to be an arbitrary voice on this matter unless and until the Loyal Orders realise it is possible and indeed infinitely preferable to celebrate their identity and culture in a way which does not seek to annoy the Other.

  • Barnshee

    Yesterday it was an “interface ” area- now its a “stretch of the Crumlin Road skirting the edge of the Ardoyne area”

    Bejasus its on the move -I estimate that it will soon be “adjacent to the Loyalist Twadell Avenue”

    What happened to parades being “forced through Ardoyne” marnta

    As previously suggested

    Marchers AND protest groups lodge material cash amounts (or irrevocable guarantees) say £50K-£100K.

    The Parade /Protest proceeds –all behave themselves fine -If however it kicks off the instigators as identified by the Police and parades commission forfeit their deposit AND it goes to the opposition

  • Barnshee

    “The rewarding bad behaviour, punishing good behaviour narrative has been blown apart by the conduct of Loyal Orders and their supporters this 12th July and across Belfast since July 12th 2012.”

    Almost hilarious

    Rewarding bad behaviour?– try examining the effect and costs of tens of millions squandered in repairing infrastructure destroyed . Thousands murdered,tens of thousands injured and damaged. Populations “cleansed”

    What did that behaviour produce?

    The presence of convicted murders in Government, the release of other such individuals from prison and an explosion of waste of taxpayers money Via Assembly Local Government/ Quangos, Community “workers” (who never worked a day in their lives)
    Motes and beams spring to mind

    At least some of the cops will have scored serious overtime out of it

  • DoppiaVu

    Morpheus

    I find myself in the unusual position of actually agreeing with something in Chris Donnelly’s post – well, just the first paragraph anyway.

    It is encumbent upon the OO to ensure that their march is peaceful and dignified. Ditto, they have to take responsibility for ensuring that any followers/hangers-on behave in a dignified manner. If they cannot do that, then they should not be allowed to march in that area.

  • Barnshee

    “The Orange marches through Ardoyne are not a few religious old men walking to celebrate their religion and culture.”

    They do not march through Ardoyne they walk past the Ardoyne shops Or variously described as

    an “interface ” area- and its a “stretch of the Crumlin Road skirting the edge of the Ardoyne area”

    Its on the move -I estimate that it will soon be “adjacent to the Loyalist Twadell Avenue”

  • Sweetcheeks

    UPC – “Perhaps they’ll be meeting Sinn Fein to see if their South American ‘representatives’ are planning on importing any more cocaine from Colombia? Or to see how the IRA’s relationship with mafia heroin dealers in southern Italy is working out these days?”

    Just so you no one feels left out, I despise the Provos and the alphabet soup of ‘dissidents’ every bit as much as I loathe the drug-dealing, murdering scumbags in the UVF that you masturbate over and would love very much to be a part of.

    And before you whine “ooohhh, what about man-playing”, how about you apologise to every contributor who you’ve personally attacked on this site over recent days, beginning with ‘Mister Joe”?

  • Kevsterino

    I agree, cheeks. Joe doesn’t get many cards and rarely allows himself to be provoked. This guy’s posts are non-stop propaganda.

  • Better Together

    Chris

    You lay the blame with the institution for choosing “contentious” routes, yet choose to gloss over the problem that was is deemed to be contentious varies in line with political expediency.

    Actually the piece did talk about the dangers of moral relativism and ceding control to the mob, you chose not to acknowledge that. My point is not that any side has a monopoly on sectarian action, simply that one side does not see these intentions scrutinised quite as intensely of the protesting side.

    This continual red herring of a republican parade in a Protestant area is apples and oranges- the Order holds traditional processions that are not comparable to parades with machine guns on the bass drums of some of the bands. Yes btw, I unreservedly condemn UVF banners and like many others would argue they have no place in an orange parade.

    However, for your argument, such instances prove to be the exception rather than the norm and do not suffice to sustain a comparison between orangeism and republican paramilitarism.

    In relation to glossing over bonfires, I don’t deny ugly sectarianism can occur in loyalist communities- your problem is that the linkage of this to Orangeism is tenuous. In terms of selection and omission, I notice you don’t mention the local man who returned the statue of Mary to Father Donegan’s parish.

    All of this overlooks the fundamental flaw in the “supremacism” argument is that it misreads the motivations of Ulster Protestants. Seeking security is not the same as seeking ascendency and it is this feeling of security and confidence which is at times lacking within a “PUL” community. Many proponents of Irish Nationalism appear to think that dislocation helps their cause as Mitchell McLaughlin famously let slip. Time will tell.

  • Chris Donnelly

    This continual red herring of a republican parade in a Protestant area is apples and oranges- the Order holds traditional processions that are not comparable to parades with machine guns on the bass drums of some of the bands.

    BT
    The Loyal Orders regularly include loyalist paramilitary aligned bands as part of their ‘traditional processions’ which exposes the absurdity of your weak effort to distinguish Orange and republican parades. In reality, the greatest distinguishing factor between Orange and republican processions is that the latter are organised almost exclusively in a manner that makes them non-contentious – ie within nationalist communities.

    Describing as ‘tenuous’ the link between 11th Night bonfires and Orangeism is ridiculous, and you do yourself and your argument a disservice by denying that the two are inextricably linked.

    But, then, if the Orange wished to disassociate itself from these bonfires, it would be very easy to do so. They haven’t and aren’t likely to.

    That one individual returned a statue to Fr Gary is welcome. It doesn’t detract from the fact that it was placed on the bonfire just as another statue was the previous year, nor that the countless similar incidents of the 11th Night being used to promote sectarian hatred highlight a real problem that you can not wish away by claiming to be ‘misunderstood.’

    Regarding the ‘supremacist’ accusation, it really is in the gift of unionist political leaders and the Loyal Orders to prove the benign nature of their motivations.

    When loyalists bring bands commemorating UVF killer Brian Robinson past Ardoyne and close to where he killed a local person, the motivation is obvious.

    When loyalists bring hundreds of supporters through the contentious area, including known paramilitary leaders, to goad locals, the motivation is obvious.

    When the Loyal Orders strike up ‘No Pope in Rome’ as they approach the interface, or indeed march to the interface as part of an illegal parade to play ‘The Famine Song’, mocking the death of one million Irish people, the motivation is obvious.

    Seeking ‘security and confidence’ through pining for a bygone era where the Orange writ ruled is no basis for a shared future, nor for stability.

    The Loyal Orders could very easily prove they are about more than seeking sectarian confrontation by not organising marches along contentious routes. Time will indeed tell.

  • Better Together

    You refer to the Brian Robinson linked band and I understand the argument, a proper system of reward and sanction could discourage and punish thaT type of behaviour. That type of thing is limited even in Belfast (once is once too many) however, and nonexistent in the bulk of orange parades in rural Ulster. Incidentally, carrying anything illegal sould be a negative on any scoresheet.

    You fail once again to address the politics of parading contention, preferring to list sectarian incidents by loyalist communities, whilst completely ignoring those of your own community.

    Celebrating murder, dressing up children in balaclavas and replica guns is okay as long as it is in a “republican area”? I think you know that many rural republican parades are conducting in areas where members of the community, both nationalist and unionist would find them distasteful. If it’s wrong on one road, it’s wrong on another. The correct comparison is with the AOH or more widely in a cultural and political sense, the GAA.

    I suppose banners comparing the OO the KKK that have been seen are in no sense inflammatory, or indeed the sectarian chants often emanating from those opposing parades of “up the ra” and the like don’t contribute at all to parading contention if we follow your logic.

    If the politics isn’t there, I suppose selective anti-sectarianism is put in its place. Proof, if more was needed, that the incentives of all interested parties in the parading issue require examination.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Let’s take this in steps…

    You fail once again to address the politics of parading contention, preferring to list sectarian incidents by loyalist communities, whilst completely ignoring those of your own community.

    There is no secret to ‘parading contention’ nor malign political strategy driving it, as the more paranoid within the Loyal Orders appear to believe. Indeed even the most cursory understanding of the history of Loyal Order parades would recognise that provocative parades have been used to cause division for centuries, leading even the British Government to ban such parades during the 19th century.

    Sectarianism exists throughout this society, within both traditions. However, in the context of discussing the Loyal Orders’ assertion that they’ve the right to march wherever they want and labelling those objecting as sectarian, it is highly relevant to identify the base sectarianism on display throughout the ‘festive’ 11th/12th period.

    Inconvenient though that may be for your argument, them’s the facts.

    Celebrating murder, dressing up children in balaclavas and replica guns is okay as long as it is in a “republican area”? I think you know that many rural republican parades are conducting in areas where members of the community, both nationalist and unionist would find them distasteful. If it’s wrong on one road, it’s wrong on another. The correct comparison is with the AOH or more widely in a cultural and political sense, the GAA.

    If you want to accuse republicans of ‘celebrating murder’ by marching then you’d have to concede that that is precisely what the Loyal Orders do. Or perhaps you could explain what else happened at Boyne and Aughrim, never mind the explicit references to loyalist paramilitaries in the loyalist band culture inextricably linked with the Orders.

    I find the involvement of children in the Loyal Orders, loyalist bands or republican bands a regrettable fact of our society. Certainly children should not be dressed up in military gear as part of any parade in my opinion, nor exposed to the type of hate on display at 11th Night gatherings and the like.

    The comparison with the GAA is laughable. The GAA do not hold parades through loyalist communities, hold bonfires burning Union Flags, effigies of protestant leaders nor erect flags outside protestant churches (and riot when these are removed by the PSNI) on the eve of the all-Ireland final.

    Your difficulty stems from undertaking the onerous task of seeking to excuse the base sectarian motivations of loyalists in persisting with contentious parades and failing to develop their ‘cultural’ expression so that it becomes less about proclaiming who and what they hate and more about celebrating who and what they are.

    Being honest with yourself would be a good start.

  • Barnshee

    “When loyalists bring bands commemorating UVF killer Brian Robinson past Ardoyne”

    Bejasus I was right its now “past Ardoyne” What happened the “through Ardoyne” bit —–Twadell Avenue here it comes

    Orange lodge parade past the “protestant Twadell Avenue attacked by catholic republican mobs from Ardoyne”

  • Barnshee

    “The comparison with the GAA is laughable. ”

    The GAA chooses to organise itself in a way which precludes support ,participation and acceptance by 50% + of the
    population in NI. That is it free choice –it is however hardly a beacon for inclusion —a bit like the OO then.

    (the OO and prods in general could take it as an example the ability of the ability of the GAA and associated follow travellers to soak up taxpayers money)

  • Better Together

    Chris

    I don’t think we are seriously going to compare two armies on a seventeenth century battlefield to twentieth century terrorists shooting police officers in the back of the head and blowing up civilians. Remembering the latter is the driving feature of republican commemoration parades.

    Once again, you fail to offer a definition of what constitutes a contentious parade, if such sources of contention can be removed to allow a peaceful procession. Not only that, you fail to acknowledge that protestors themselves play a significant role in causing contention and mutual recrimination. If your solution is no orange feet when we say so, then perhaps we ought to let others decide how reasonable that assertion is.

    What is it that nationalists have to fear from a fair system of managing parades? If it is the case that all is sought is respectful assembly, I have no doubt that bargain could be struck. If what is sought is an ethnic victory, I suspect this will go on as a protracted dispute.

    If you want to attribute a supremacy complex to your neighbours, then perhaps you would accept others may question your own motivations. Let’s set some principles, design a fair system to assess them and move forward in that manner.

    We all want to resolve this, don’t we?