Ulster marching band numbers at record high…

As featured in today’s Belfast Newsletter, Irish News and Belfast Telegraph; tonight a new report is being launched by the Northern Ireland Youth Forum. The report has interviewed a cross section of bands people across Northern Ireland, looking at views and highlighting the levels of marginalisation felt.

The responses to reports like this are close to predictable. Are the predictable (also read stereotypical) responses to this and other reports in any way useful? Of course not.

For ALL areas of Northern Irish society where expressions of identity manifest themselves and perceptions of ‘controversiality’(sic) exist, we all should make much more effort to understand the intrinsic reasoning and functions of the activity. When anyone, of whatever political or cultural hue, makes blanket broad judgements and statements about a specific activity, they are simply propagating divisions and misunderstanding.

As a marching band activist for want of a better word, I contributed a foreword to the report, included below. Slugger is a useful resource for discussion. Can we try for once and keep a topic free from ‘whataboutery’, instead asking and answering questions? Exploring and trying to understand? Doesn’t mean there will be agreement, but just maybe that understanding can create a modicum of empathy that can contribute to establishing solutions to certain issues.

Many different images evoke memories of Northern Ireland’s recent troubled history; however one of the most familiar and striking is that of the ‘parade’. Usually only covered by the media when there was some sort of controversial aspect, these parades had one common feature – the Ulster Band, consequently the Ulster marching band has for many a negative image. They are associated with violence, with sectarianism and paramilitaries. In turn they get automatically tarred with many negative characteristics within modern society such as alcohol abuse and vandalism.

These assumptions cannot be further from the truth. Many are constructed purely from the sensationalist media coverage, others from ill informed anecdotal evidence; while some are founded in direct political motivation against the culture and community from whence bands come. In truth bands are about expressing identity, about celebrating heritage. They educate their members and instil discipline. They perform a role uniting small communities, providing entertainment, opportunities to socialise, and most of all give something to motivate and to be proud of.

The Ulster Band movement has been on this island for a long time. For two centuries the Protestant, Unionist, Loyalist people of Ireland have expressed themselves musically through the marching band, a legacy of that community’s historical ties and connections with the British military. In fact, its foundation in Ireland and its continual development here arguably gives it the right to call itself Irish Traditional music more-so than any other musical genre!

Many outside the ranks of bands continually proclaim that they need to explain themselves. And they should, but more collective responsibility needs to be taken on these issues. Today this movement has almost 30,000 members. It is growing and there are now more bands within the six counties of Northern Ireland than have ever existed within their borders before. This body is not going away anywhere soon. Like all aspects of our society that have controversial elements, it is incumbent on us all to make efforts to educate and understand as opposed to give uninformed blanket condemnation. For the detractors of bands- it is not enough just to ask for explanation. You have to listen.

  • tacapall

    So you say Quincy, any cast iron evidence though other than from loyalist sources ?

  • OneNI

    What a load of guff. Th enumber of Bands may have increased by lots of them are barely one third of the size they were in the 80s and 90s. The age profile has also changed many ‘boys’ are in their 40’s.
    By all means continue the tradition but dont event the idea that it is a growing phenomenon

  • Presby

    Thanks Mick for posting that article and Quincey for writing it. I have lived and worked in the middle of a loyalist community for many years now and would agree with much of the post.

    I am not politically aligned nor in agreement with aspects of wider ‘PUL’ cultural expression – particularly contentious parading. But anyone who wants to seriously live peaceably on this island, has to come to terms with the band culture.

    A band local to my area (Ballymena) has a reputation as being one of the best in Northern Ireland. I have always found them aware of their community responsibility, the need to set an example and a willingness to maintain good relationships. Moreover in their practise they exhibit self discipline, work ethic and an interest in their deeper Ulster, Scottish, Irish and wider folk roots.

  • Quincey Dougan

    One NI:- actually it is the number of band members AND bands that is now at an all time high. For reference see Musical anthropologist Gordon Ramsey’s work Music, Emotion and Identity in Ulster Marching Bands: Flutes, Drums and Loyal Sons. Bern: Peter Lang, 2011. Other material to cross reference and reinforce the factuality of the assertion can be accessed via the work of Dr Jackie Witherow, Dr Dominic Bryan and Dr Neil Jarman. Recent reports by DCAL and DSD also are useful contributions. This isnt conjecture.

  • Morpheus

    An increase in the number of bands is fantastic news. The volunteer work that goes into maintaining a band so that young people – especially in rural areas – can safely congregate, social, meet new people and learn new skills often goes unnoticed because of the actions of a few idiots. I have always said that the bands with their world-class musical ability bring the culture to the 12th, not the OO.

  • Quincey, can I assume you haven’t included CNR and other marching bands? If so, why not? Perhaps this spectrum of marching bands has more in common than what separates them. Are there events where this wider spectrum is on parade?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Hello Quincey

    I have some sympathy for what you write but I’m pretty sure a lot of these points would be/have been conceded by middle of the road commentators here if not a few nationalists.

    The number main gripes are the one’s that advocates for the marching tradition quite simply ignore: the 12th, its warm up (11th) and its wake.

    Ad nauseum we’ve agreed that it’s a minority. What we’ve never heard is why the OO or the powers that be don’t do something, even if it’s symbolic:

    Send a few Daniels into various lions’ dens and have them publicly confront the ‘partiers’, if they get a kickin’ for all the world to see then it’ll be some sort of Orange martyrdom for them and a mark of Cain upon bandsmen whose ‘turf’ it was.

    Ban bands from participating in the big day if they can’t control their hounds

    Damn it, if the OO are going to be rub shoulders/ be associated with gangsters and terrorists (or sell their ‘art’?) then just go the whole hog and have a whip round for them to get a few heavies to patrol the areas of contention and drop a few breeze blocks on the shins of those who step out of line.

    Fly in a few squads of Russian powerlifting, glass bottle eating ex-Spetznaz head cases and get them to whip (metaphorically?) every one into shape?

    Whatever man, something.

    Not to mention the incredible mixed message that one will receive from a 12th day parade.
    I appreciate that there a numerous views in the PUL but the messages implied on a big day are borderline schizophrenic:
    Christian love, from the gospel tents, then some tit running around in a “yabba dabba doo any taig will do T-shirt”, demands of respect for the word of God only to have your attention whipped away by a man from Glasgow staggerin’ past displaying a sunburnt torso and a homemade tattoo shouting nearly-unintelligible abuse at no one in particular (or the Pope)

    And the flags: The message of loyalty to the Union is surely undone by displaying the redundant Ulster flag and the independence flag?

    Granted, I’ve never seen an Israeli flag for sale at a 12th stall but they do go up in Loyalist areas with evidently no thought given to the fact that Israel partly obtained it’s independence by a terrorist campaign against British soldiers yet the bands would be displaying names of men murdered by terrorists in a similar fashion?!

    I’m not saying this to ‘have a go’, I appreciate what you’re saying about the under appreciated side of the bands and their relation to the community around them but there is a reason why people pile on all this pressure and it’s NOT because of some pan-nationalist plot.

    Sort out the mess that follows some of these parades and introduce a strict code of conduct and penalties for the non-compliant bands.

    Once the distraction of Loyalist mayhem has been removed then people will be more easily able to see the dimension that you are highlighting here.

    It’ll be easier for them “to listen” as you just implored…

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “In fact, its foundation in Ireland and its continual development here arguably gives it the right to call itself Irish Traditional music more-so than any other musical genre!”

    Interesting angle.

    I’m glad you highlighted that.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Sorry, typo:

    “The ‘main’ gripes are the one’s that advocates for the marching tradition quite simply ignore: the 12th, its warm up (11th) and its wake…”

  • Sp12

    Good news for WKD sales.
    Yeooooooooooo!

  • JR

    I accept there are many positives associated with the band scene for the community including keeping young people out of trouble and all that. However…

    You blame the media for protraying bands in a bad light in a number of places in the article but it isn’t the mainstream media posting videos of bands dancing in circles in Halloween masks in the middle of the road at night or belting out the Famine song. It is the bands men themselves. It doesn’t take much of a youtube search to find bands engaging in extremely antisocial behavior.

  • Woah,
    All the above articles are based upon the opinion of Mr Dougan and lazily reported as fact (as usual).
    Mr Dougan provides some source material above which is welcome but no links or figures whatsoever.
    Perhaps we could have some comparative numbers please or direct quotes / links to the source material?
    Otherwise we are just having a chat down the local.

  • runepig

    Ulster marching band numbers at record high…

    …chances of Northern Ireland becoming a progressive, inclusive, tolerant, European democracy at record low.

  • Anybody got any actual numbers please? Anyone?
    Have Newspapers reported this with no cross checking or secondary sources? Shirley not……..

  • foyle observer

    Would Quincey care to comment on the Orange Order’s call at the weekend for protests to be upscaled to ‘civil disobedience’?

    You just have to wonder how this organisation is still legal.

  • Ok, As Quincey or nobody else seems to be able to substantiate the assertions in the post above, the best I can come up with is this: http://www.dcalni.gov.uk/marching_bands_study.pdf
    I suggest a read of page 9 in particular regarding the actual numbers.
    I await correction.

  • Quincey Dougan

    Sorry for the delay Bangordub. The curse of the working man. Yes that 2011 report is one source. According to it there were 633 bands emanating from the PUL community with an estimated membership of 29,741 (page 12 is the main place, though the report should also be read in its entirety). Those figures themselves were from a study ten years ago. The report also acknowledges two things- that the estimate is likely to be low, and that from the beginnings of the original survey the movement has continually grown. There is no central band body, so its incredibly difficult to gather continual figures, though that is currently being addressed. There are 20 new bands documented as forming within the last 30 months alone. That doesnt include recent announcements of new bands being formed in Loughgall, Armagh, Londonderry and Lisburn. The figure of 240+ is used to allow for the reality that some bands have ceased to exist.

    Ramseys contention that there are more bands now than ever before is based on research that assesses historically the one occasion when ALL bands from the PUL tradition are on show- the 12th of July. His assertion is made based on compiling the numbers of bands on parade at 12th July venue across Northern Ireland over many decades.

    Ive no doubt this wont be enough to fulfil the desire for ‘concrete evidence’ and documentation. It is however information accepted by statutory bodies, community organisations, Several councils, and a range of other organisations.

    It is hoped that a certified report will be released with full quantification in early 2014. For information i personally beleive that it will say there are between 672 and 676 bands with a membership circa 33,000. Allied to this is that between 80,000 and 140,000 of the population are actually ex members of the Ulster band movement.

  • Quincey Dougan

    Sorry not 240+, 640+

  • Quincey,
    Thanks for the reply, I fully understand the working man thing 😉
    None of us have enough time truth be told.
    Taking your response line by line:
    The figures are at least 12 years out of date,
    There is evidence of new bands (20) forming but none of those ceasing to exist.
    There are “opinions” by Ramsay.
    He bases his opinions on the attendance of bands on the 12th July over MANY DECADES.
    Now Quincey, If I was a statutory body, Council or indeed a half decent journalist I’d not base a breakfast buffet on that lot and I doubt you would.
    I expect nothing better of the Bel Tel, but I thought better of the Irish News

  • between the bridges

    As per the OP i am happy to confirm that both band numbers (i.e new bands) and band members (i.e new band members to existing bands) are on the up and up in the lakeland kingdom…

  • between the bridges
    And thanks for the figures on that as well?????

  • between the bridges

    Bang, the figures amount to a 5% yearly increase in bands and 9% in band members ever since internal audit records for the marching social arts movement (Fermanagh Branch) have been kept…

  • Charles_Gould

    Bowling Alone

    Robert Putnam in his book Bowling Alone tracks the decline in participation in group activities – party membership, club memberships, etc — over recent decades. It’s a UK and Western-wide phenomenon. A decline in “social capital” as people do things alone or in families but not broader in society.

    Set against this backdrop, the rise in band members is certainly most notable.

  • Reader

    foyle observer: Would Quincey care to comment on the Orange Order’s call at the weekend for protests to be upscaled to ‘civil disobedience’?
    1) Quincey is talking about bands, not the Orange Order.
    2) I don’t think the Orange Order has called for Civil Disobedience. However, a senior member of the OO has suggested that CD might be an option.
    I get the distinct impression that you view the PUL community as some sort of Borg collective, with a common purpose and bearing collective responsibility for any action performed by anyone. I bet you don’t view the CNR community in the same way.

    foyle observer: You just have to wonder how this organisation is still legal.
    The following is from the CAIN chronology:
    3) Saturday 19 October 1968 Derry Citizen’s Action Committee (established on 9 October 1968) organised an illegal sit-down at Guildhall Square as part of large civil disobedience campaign.
    4) Sunday 17 November 1968. A policy of civil disobedience was adopted by the Nationalist Party at its annual conference.
    5) Sunday 15 August 1971. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) announced that it was starting a campaign of civil disobedience in response to the introduction of Internment.
    Do you think organisations calling for Civil Disobedience should automatically be banned?

  • between the bridges
    Yet again,
    What figures?

  • “the marching social arts movement (Fermanagh Branch) ”
    Forgive my ignorance but I have never heard of them and what figures are you, and Quincey, referring to?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Quincey,

    You’ve got to be having a laugh. The number of bands may be increasing but as others have already pointed out this doesn’t mean the number of people participating in them is.

    I saw various references in the news to young loyalists not understanding why nationalists can’t accept their culture. With respect this is a lot of bunkum too. You don’t sing the Famine Song or No Pope in Rome in public believing that you’re going to make friends by doing it.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Reader,

    I don’t think the Orange Order has called for Civil Disobedience. However, a senior member of the OO has suggested that CD might be an option.

    In other words, they might “go back to what they know best”, as one senior republican put it some time ago.

  • BluesJazz

    The OP doesn’t fit my anecdotal view.
    In South Down the band members are few in number (some consist of 5 or 6 people-maybe 1 or 2 families?)and many have folded.
    Walking through East Belfast this July- 2 weekends- there were about 5 bands at parades at most and the viewing public was tiny (along the Castlereagh Road).
    But that’s just what I witnessed. However the demographics would point to a numbers fall. State secondary school closures are rising and will continue to do so.

    It’s like saying Irish League attendances are terrific, I don’t know but what point is Quincy trying to make?

    10, 000 or 33, 000, so what?

  • Reader

    Comrade Stalin: In other words, they might “go back to what they know best”, as one senior republican put it some time ago.
    Good comparison, especially in the way that different people attach different weights to the remarks depending on their agenda. However, I was specifically dealing with the factually incorrect statement from ‘foyle observer’.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Reader

    “I get the distinct impression that you view the PUL community as some sort of Borg collective…”

    Funniest thing I’ve read on Slugger in ages 🙂

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Quncey

    Mulling over yer figures there.

    33 000/676 bands = 48.8 = 49 per band.(rounding up)

    That would imply that your average band could in theory comprise of the following:

    1 bannerman
    6 flag bearers
    2 bass drummers
    10 drums
    30 flutists

    For Gertrude Star, Pride of the Maine, Dunamoney (boo!), Cloughfern, Pride of the Bann, S.B.Y.C and such like then yes, that’s achievable and perhaps the impression given if you go to Kilcluney’s parade, but it’s not the case in many other bands across the province.

    Far from it.
    Some bands on the 12th are press ganged into existence by a flute and a polo shirt being shoved last minute into the hand of a visiting relative:

    “4 drummers, 10 flautists and a bass drummer a Keith’s wee lad on the band pole! Great!..”

    Milrow, Tobermore are an example of that, but in the 70’s they would have had in excess of 100 members, they could do 3 parades in one night just by splitting up.

    Mate, I don’t wanna dampen your enthusiasm for the bands, but there is a reason why they’re given such a bad rap.

    But whenever these cases are presented they are generally palmed off as Republican pressure and whenever one of ‘your own’ has a pop (e.g. me) then there’s frustration that a Lundy has piped up as opposed to circling the wagons against Republican pressure.

    Certain aspects of the bad parades are brilliant and impressive, especially for entirely amateur based groups.

    But certain aspects of the band parading underbelly are very unpalatable yet very few people in the OO or the bands have the stones to stand up and demand enforcement of rules and respect.

    Please don’t see whipping the lower echelons of the Loyalist band culture into shape as a ‘Republican victory’, from a PR point of view it’s anything but.

    They’d have to create their own PR in that case…

  • cynic2

    The number could be true> All thsose young Loyalists led into prison on the back of the flegs protest may be learning new skills

  • OneNI

    Yes an average of 50 members tallies with my observation that 20 years ago these bands often had members in excess of 100

  • Neil

    It’s funny how all praise for the OO and bands seems to come from OO members and bands. What’s that they say about self-praise?

    Not long ago we were being fed the line that on the twelfth the tills of Belfast were ringing and the hotels were jointed with curious tourists. The economic benefits were unquantifiably huge. Then along comes the news that the tourists are terrified of the intimidating mobs of drunken smicks and the shitty atmosphere (they probably won’t be rushing back nor recommending a visit to their friends and family) and the traders had lost 50 million, and are begging the Loyal (to themselves) types to leave them alone.

    Their membership may well get a bounce from the recent events, but that doesn’t mean they’re marching anywhere but backwards. Their behaviour in Ardoyne isn’t increasing the likelihood of a march there anytime soon. If they’d all gone home after the march on the 12th they’d probably have already had their march at 9 a.m. last week. But they haven’t the sense, they’ll turn it into another standoff like they did at Ormeau, and Drumcree which as we know were an unmitigated success for them.

  • Quincey Dougan

    On the average…. Dont think some people grasp the meaning of average… there are many bands with 18 members. Some with 30, 40, 50,60+. Then there are a few dozen with considerably more. Two bands from Markethill alone had over 160 on parade in Scarva several times. Keady, East, Ards, Shankill, Magherafelt, etc etc etc all have close to 100 men on the books- my band is going to have more for next season. Hence averages. Some people here want all the exact figures!!! I admire their attention to detail, though i have no doubt whatsoever that it would be poo-pooed even if it was all listed here ad infinitum. The studies above are accepted by anyone that matters. Thats enough for me.

    I dont preach that everything is perfect. What i do preach is that there is more good than ill, and that there is actually much less ill than in many other ‘like’ movements. Bands are essentially a youth movement. For a youth movement of this scale to have so little bad press is actually astounding. When you have any mass movement it will have its problems. That comes from having lots of people. Not rocket science.

    As for ‘stones to do something’ in terms of the Order and bands themselves, well there are things done. Many things. The problem is that the media arent interested in the good stuff, and why should they be i suppose. So the only time anything heard is the one or two incidents. 30000 people and a handful of incidents. If bands were the evil they are portrayed there would be significantly more.

    In modern Norn Irish community there are issues with anti-social behaviour, alcohol, etc etc etc. Bands reflect the community they are from so sometimes the same thigns arise BUT never to the same extent. Bands are a positive tool.

    Once again though, my core point here is lost. Im simply saying if anyone is serious about solving problems and issues sit back and try and understand the intrinsic reasons why bands exist. Oh and maybe give some of this dialogue that so many want (but funny enough only in certain situations).

    The problem here is that many in Unionism see the attitudes towards things like bands and even if they personally despise bands they still grasp a core approach that there is no ‘sharing’ or acceptance of Unionism. Well there is i suppose- if Unionism throws away everything that others dont like and morphs into something that others give their approval for.

    Bottom line here- feel free to lambast bands. Feel free to attack them. Fire away. It will do nothing bar enhance recruiting even further. From my personal perspective i try and explain. Try and make some understand. At the same time doing the same educational process within the scene on other elements of society. I would prefer we are accepted. But if we arent, well i will be happy to take the extra members that that generates, and propagate the movement for further generations.

  • Neil

    Bottom line here- feel free to lambast bands. Feel free to attack them. Fire away.

    MOPE. Bands are being attacked because of the damage they’re doing.

    On the 12th:

    A review of the day conducted for Belfast City Centre Management spelt out the negative commercial impact, with 81% of traders reporting a loss of business and 80% reporting low shopper numbers.

    “The main problem is in altering the wider population’s perception of the city centre on the 12th of July,” concluded the report. “The tensions that surrounded the run up to the main parades this year did not help, indeed, one can argue that the protests and civil disorder has set back the Orangefest programme. Until this type of publicity is eradicated, the response of tourists is exceptionally pertinent as it highlights a non-biased view and it is, on the whole, negative.

    “Reports from tourists and businesses alike stated that the return leg of the parades was accompanied by intoxicated spectators creating a dirty and repelling place, this is a key issue that needs to be addressed.”

    You want people to stop attacking the bands? Start behaving like normal human beings and it might happen. You’ve stated you don’t care whether that happens as you’ll get plenty of new recruits from your MOPE drive. Well done for being honest that your loyalty is to your band only, and you’re not remotely concerned about the negative effect you have on society.

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/news/whats-the-real-cost-of-rioting-on-northern-irelands-economy-29643162.html

  • Alias

    “A review of the day conducted for Belfast City Centre Management spelt out the negative commercial impact, with 81% of traders reporting a loss of business and 80% reporting low shopper numbers.”

    Shopkeepers don’t have a veto over the right to public assembly. You could make the same case against a St. Paddy’s day parade where virtually 100% of businesses in Ireland close for the day given that it is a public holiday.

    In regard to heavy drinking and the lack of public toilet facilities: that has also been a regular feature of St. Paddy’s day.

  • Neil

    Shopkeepers don’t have a veto over the right to public assembly.

    No one’s saying they do. However the right to assembly has to be balanced against the rights of everyone else.

    The rest of it’s whataboutery and irrelevant.

  • Alias

    “However the right to assembly has to be balanced against the rights of everyone else.”

    The logic then is that St. Paddy’s day should be de-listed as a public holiday since it results in the closure of virtually 100% of businesses.

    In reality, shoppers simply deter purchases or transfer them to other retailers so there is no loss to the overall economy. And given that we are referring to national issues, that is what matters.

    Whataboutery or not, what goes for one tribe’s events must go for the other. That’s equality of esteem or equality of contempt.

  • Quincey Dougan

    Everything you are saying is whataboutery Neil. And you know what, to some extent so is what i and others say. So how do we get past the whataboutery?? Well the answer for some is for myself and others like me to stop existing. To disappear into the ether, or alternatively to change all apsects overnight that they dont like, and even then ‘keep it to yourself’ (i.e. not exist by proxy).

    My answer is to at least try to understand. I try. This all is about a massive movement, with many dozens of different facets, the majority of which are positive. But some arent interested. They cant get past the soundbite. They dont want to move beyond the exception, which they want to be the rule.

    Northern Ireland is a highly politicised environment. That means any large group of people eventually gets drawn into situations that they dont want to be in. Situations that because of immense anger and emotion dont come across well in a hype and negative headline driven media. That ‘rule’ applies to many things.

    Anyone that wants things in this country to be different needs to try approaching situations differently. I see lots preaching that. I dont see many practising it.

  • Morpheus

    Quincey, for what it is worth I appreciate what you are saying – the vast majority of those who are members of bands are not out to cause trouble and the minority ruin all the hard work the majority do week in and week out.

    But serious question:

    What do you think about the prospect of separating the OO from the bands (hell the OO disavow them at the drop of a hat anyway) and having a massive event somewhere when all the bands come together and rent a massive field, a-la-Glastonbury? You could charge a nominal entrance fee to cover costs and then set up stages, stalls and marquees to highlight local music, products, food, services and charities. All the bands could have competitions and play for the families who want to enjoy the music with a summer picnic in a safe, stewarded environment.

    Maybe it could be held out of Belfast and close to the international airport. Somewhere near the motorway networks and – most importantly – within walking distance of a railway station so people from all over Northern Ireland can get there relatively easily. I am thinking near Moira train station.

    I think this could accomplish several things:
    • The 12th can turn into a family day
    •The bands are highlighted around the world for their music
    • The hard work of the band’s volunteers – who are keeping the kids off the streets – is showcased
    • Northern Ireland doesn’t come to a standstill
    • It can be policed much easier by the PSNI
    • No more flashpoints
    • Everyone can get on with their lives knowing they have a choice of going to the event or not
    •Northern Ireland is presented in a positive light in the world’s media
    • Tourists will come and spend their money in Northern Ireland helping our economy

    The parades of the Orange and Black Institutions would pass peacefully and the Institutions do not need to apologise for the behavior of a band or individuals that aren’t part of their Institution.

    Maybe even in a few short years a Catholic or two may venture in for the music then bands could come from ROI, Scotland, England etc. for the competitions and before you know the people of Northern Ireland have and a cultural event we can all call our own

  • JR

    Quincy,

    Massive isn’t a term I would use to describe the band culture. Even if there are 30,000 participants which we still don’t know. That still only ammounts to about 1.5% of the population here, or 1 in 70 people in the province of Ulster the parading provincial stronghold.

    It does however have a very big impact. Impacting the travel of nearly everyone. As btb says, his band parade in excess of 40 times a year. That is all well and good for the 1% who are into that sort of thing but for the rest of us, Bíonn blas ar an bheagann. (Irish language community in Ulster is five times the size of the band community and we still consider it small)

  • between the bridges

    neil, the same people produced similar reports re st paddy’s day and gay pride saying similar things, any thoughts on why those reports didn’t get similar coverage as the 12th one?

    JR can you list the parades that had a massive impact on you?

  • between the bridges

    Morpheus, all you desire all ready happens, it’s about time people acknowledged and respected that…

  • Quincey Dougan

    JR the 30,000 is an accepted figure. Some dont want to acknowledge that (i suppose in the same way that Northern Ireland as an entitity is recognised the world over but it still cant be called by its name), but que sera sera.

    Interesting you mention it – i have noted with interest the way the Irish language movement assesses its adherents. You can neither write it, understand it written, speak or understand it to any significant extent and still be classified as one for instance. I would take massive issue with the number of people who alledgedly constitute the Irish lanuage community, so i cant be too hard on you when you do the same with bands.

    In terms of Irish languge, in Armagh council area (where there are over 50 bands), there are as many direct band members as last census says there are Irish ‘adherents’. I havent examined the figures for other areas.
    Slightly to the side an interesting stat is that there are twice as many bands as Gaelic Clubs.

    The band ‘community’ isnt just those 30,000. Its hundreds of thousands. You dont have to go to an event every week to consider bands a part of your community and consider yourself a a part of it. It takes tens of thousands to keep a band on the road. Grants available, a relatively new thing, cover very little. These are massive amounts of money. Bands could not exist if the community around them wasnt supporting them.

    Morpheous i accept your views as genuine, and sympathise. I suppose my reply comes back to the extent that the nationalist community cannot understand bands and parading culture. It doesnt have one. Theres a token element, but generally nationalists dont embrace parading in their own communtities. For me and others like me no matter what some may think its not about parading in certain areas.

    ‘WHAT????’ is the response to that line ive no doubt. Total nonsense another. Well whats going on in Ardoyne another.

    Bands and parading is important to me. Its in my blood. Been here hundreds of years. I do it. Its part of my life. When its attacked its not ‘just’ a parade thats attacked. Its a fundamental part of my identity and existence and social life etc etc. That is why parade opposition casues such emotional response. Its not JUST that parade. Its precieved as an attack on life. An attack on the very core being of some people.

    Nonsense is cried. Well i cant make anyone believe that if they dont want too. Im just trying to explain how i and many others feel.

    Bands arent perfect. Parades arent perfect. The world isnt perfect.

    Theres no space at the minute being given to change things. No preconditions we are told…………. but you cant walk. No preconditions? Someone has to give room. And you know what, Irish Republcianism tells us its principle driven and that it genuinelly wants us to be a part of a secular united Ireland. Well if thats true it should be giving room.

    I honestly believe it that Ardoyne event had been allowed to finished last Sat morning it wouldnt have been treated like a victory and we could move on. And the reason it wasnt allowed many will precieve to be for that very reason. Compormise and agreement isnt wanted with Orange and Bands- whats wanted is to defeat them. Destroy them.

  • Morpheus

    BTB: “Morpheus, all you desire all ready happens, it’s about time people acknowledged and respected that…”

    I’m sorry, we must have all missed that event this summer. As far as I know it was all on the street and absolutely none of what I ‘desire’ happened.

    Quincey
    What do you think to my idea above?
    For the bands is it really all about the music (ie. why not have the event I talked about?) or is it really all about walking the Queens Highway with the OO trying to remind the other side of their place in Northern Ireland?

    Does it piss you off when you see the OO disavowing the bands when the crap hits the fan?

    How do you feel when you see this or this?

    Or news reports showing that bands broke a PC ruling by playing outside a Catholic church while a service was going on?

  • between the bridges

    In terms of how the ‘other’ community viewed bands, the participants were clear and concise with their position that they had been demonised and heavily criticised because of ignorance, fear and inaccurate assumptions…http://www.niyf.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/SONS-OF-ULSTER-Final-report.pdf

  • between the bridges

    Morpheus, you see what you want to see…

  • Morpheus

    BTB, show me.

  • between the bridges
  • JR

    Quincy,
    Well I have a bit of a handicap in this debate in that I have to use actual census figures and you can pull them from… where did you get those figures for armagh? By the way I do acknowledge the figure is close 30,000 or in the low tens of thousands anyway. You probably don’t care but for what it’s worth I believe that band parading and culture is a significant part of this islands culture and has significant support and is deserving of respect and support.

    In response to your views on the Irish language, aside from the fact that I have only included the figures for those who speak, read, write and understand the Irish language according to the census or those who use it daily outside the education system.

    As a matter of interest, By your standards, why can you be a member of the band community and not play an instrument or don the uniform but not be a member of the Irish language community unless you are equally capable in Irish and English? Doesn’t seem to compare like for like to me.

    PS if you want to delude yourself that the band scene is bigger than the GAA then fill your boots.

  • JR

    BTB,

    The secton on how the other community view bands is one big straw man. It is just assigns a position to the other side that they do not hold then criticising them for it. eg…

    “I would safely say we are viewed as bigots, orange
    bastards and huns by the Nationalists. To be honest they
    are entitled to their opinion and for what it is worth I think
    it’s the wrong impression. They don’t take the time to read
    or research what bands do, bands do more than parade”

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Quincey

    Please don’t think of me as either facetious or pedantic, I was indeed thinking of averages and in particular I was trying to average out the FB sizes at the Magherafelt 12th.

    While Dunamoney, Ballymoughan, Moneydig and a couple of others may have fielded around the 50 mark there were many who fell well short of that golden average.

    However, I will concede that it may be a different state of affairs around Ballymena, Markethill, North Down and other places.

    But 50 is quite a decent turn out for a band.

    Although I’ve never seen a monster 160 man band, that is something I’d very much like to see (enthusiastically, not sarcastically)

    With regards to the up-sides of it as a youth movement, there is something that I think is overlooked and needs to acknowledged and it is that of a ‘controlled’ environment for youngsters that may want to drink.

    I never drank when I was in the band and most of my mates were reserved too (parades during the week, sure how could ye function week in, week out if you were plastered every time) but for the younger ones that did maybe over indulge, well, at least they had adults there to ensure that they got home OK, as opposed to Lord knows what had they been drinking with other youngsters.

    With regards to the bands reflecting a cross section of their area in terms of social behaviour, well yes, spot on, same for many of the OO lodges, hence the difference in attitudes from an Megargy Orangeman to a Sandy Row Orangeman.

    I’m glad you posted here Quincey as I think bands do need to have reasoned representation and a voice (and for what it’s worth you come across much much better than many current Loyalist ‘representatives’).

    Alas, you will face an up hill struggle with the media.

    As long as the extreme behaviour of parts of the Loyalist band scene and its periphery go unchecked then all of the bands will suffer from it, at least in terms of image.

    Were ALL English football fans nutjob-hooligans in the ’80s or just a small number that trailed English football down with them?

    I think you and I are singing off the same hymn sheet to a certain extent.

    I wish to see the survival of the band culture with its dignity and honour intact.

    Unionism doesn’t have to throw away the things that others don’t like per se, it has to ditch the aspects that are detrimental to its own interests which incidentally tend to be the things that piss other people off.

    The loutish aspect (as disproportiantely reported as it may or may not be), the paramilitary style standards, the songs about the deaths of catholics, KAT and KAI,
    playing loudly and fervently outside of chapels do Unionism no favours and not just because Catholics don’t like them.

    Drop these elements and we’ll be on a much firmer foundation.

    And it’s not to say that we’ll be moulding ourselves to what ‘others want’ or just give approval for, but we’ll certainly have removed many reasonable grounds for objection.

    THEN the intolerance argument comes into force, as it stands it is a farcical argument as it is undermined at ever turn by some of the more extreme elements within Loyalism.

    When I made the comment about having the stones to do something, I wasn’t referring to internal band affairs, I was talking about a few respected representatives (like ‘B mcC’ of Cookstown SOW) standing for all band-dom to see and imploring that the ‘media-feeding’ aspects of the Loyalist band culture be tolerated no more and that offenders should be dealt with severely.

    You speak of band discipline and know this is possible.

    It can be done. But why isn’t it?

    You’re clearly an intelligent man Quincey and I’d like to see more input from people like yourself, you’re a breath of fresh air compared to what we’ve been served from planet Loyalism recently and I wish you well.

    AG

    PS I quite liked this as an example of the camaraderie of a band and its emphasis on youth (though I’ve never really liked CYC, but I confess to buying Thunder and Lightening…):

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “Lightning”

  • Morpheus

    BTB, apart from the one link to a thread started by none other than your good self (bit weird dude) then these links show the positive aspects of bands which I have already commented on at 12.50pm yesterday. Have a read.

    Maybe you could answer the same questions I put to Quinsey:
    1. What do you think to my idea above?
    2. For the bands is it really all about the music (ie. why not have the event I talked about?) or is it really all about walking the Queens Highway with the OO trying to remind the other side of their place in Northern Ireland?
    3. Does it piss you off when you see the OO disavowing the bands when the crap hits the fan?
    4. How do you feel when you see this or this?
    5. How do you feel when you read news reports showing that bands broke a PC ruling by playing outside a Catholic church while a service was going on? Support it or condemn it?

  • between the bridges

    JR sorry did i miss your list of massive impact?
    Morp 1) your a genius. 2) No and No. 3) any examples. 4) the first was supposed to have happen at the covenant parade it was just a pity that band wasn’t on parade that day. The second isn’t something i would agree with but the hyperbole that follow was OTT. 5) where i’m from you don’t play past any church if there is a service on…(unwritten rule from way before the PC)

    My turn would i be justified in judging all GAA clubs in the same light as those that issue IRA medals to U12’s…

  • Mc Slaggart

    “My turn would i be justified in judging all GAA clubs in the same light as those that issue IRA medals to U12′s…”

    Can you put up a link to these medals which have IRA on them?

  • Red Lion

    Bloody hell Bangordub, you make your original request for information at 3.57pm and by 4.50pm you’re getting wound up as no one has got back to you.

    Give the man a chance.

  • Mc Slaggart

    “In truth bands are about expressing identity, about celebrating heritage. They educate their members and instil discipline. They perform a role uniting small communities, providing entertainment, opportunities to socialise, and most of all give something to motivate and to be proud of.”

    Quincey Dougan

    What is being done to stop Band parades being so very very boring? (yes another flute band will make everyone happy)

  • JR

    BTB,
    Sorry I didn’t see your comment earlier. I was stuck in traffic in Warrenpoint a few times, which I personally don’t mind. Orange men were polite and band was ok. Was delayed for about half an hour on the 13th for a parade between Omagh and Ballygawly, on that really high bit of road where no-one lives. Why they were parading there I do not know I thought it was a car accident because all the traffic on this main road was completely stopped. Driving past there was literally two dozen people none younger than 65. That I did mind because we were on a long drive, it was hot and the baby was crying (the motion sends her to sleep but in stationery traffic in a hot car she wasn’t happy. Then there was Kilkeel, not this year mind you, being stopped by very drunk bandsmen at about two in the morning in the middle of the road collecting money for “the UVF”. There was also coming home from Armagh getting a really long diversion (felt like 20 min) arround Gosford park, to emerge 200 m further up the road because the OO were parading on the main Armagh Newry road. I could go on,

  • BluesJazz

    ” there was literally two dozen people” i.e. 24 (You must have counted them ‘literally’? and ‘were’ not ‘was’ when dealing with multiples.

    “stationery traffic” This is what exactly?

  • JR

    BJ,

    What is the bigger issue, my grammar or a hundreds of people having to sit stationary (not moving) for about half an hour in their cars on a hot day because a few elderly gentlemen want to get out and have a walk on the road while listening to music? I don’t know, maybe you feel they are perfectly entitled? Maybe they are? I would be interested to hear an orange perspective on this.

    As a genuine question do you or any of the marchers out there feel there is ever a point at which the rights of the people needing to travel a road, for talks sake a major trunk road at a busy time of day outweigh the rights of marchers? Is there a length of time which you feel is too long to impede traffic or a number of people too few to justify a march? Take for example the perfect storm of 30 people and one band wanting to march a three mile stretch of road major trunk road at during say peak bank holiday traffic and stopping cars for a period of say 40 min on a hot day?

  • BluesJazz

    JR
    The grammar Nazi sets in me at times. No doubt you noticed my lack of closing bracket.

    When roads are shut for the NW200 or G8 or dissident/’loyalist’ hoax bombs I just accept it in the same way as accidents or even funerals.
    I don’t march or even watch parades, but they rarely impact on me. I get more upset about bus lanes to be honest. The weather has a psychological impact, but ‘hot days’ are not in the gift or otherwise of any of us.
    You maybe ‘protest too much’ and do not remember the frequent ‘bombscares’ in the 1980’s when traffic was paralysed due to SF allied militia causing mayhem.

  • antamadan

    Perhaps the state should support the bands that celebrate their culture and the great victory of the protestants over the catholics, in unionist areas. And not put up with any crap when they want to follow their historical British army heritage by showing their dominance over nationalists in nationalist areas.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    antamadan

    Perhaps they could tinker with the narrative a bit?

    i.e. Change it to a ‘Jacobite vs Williamite/Augsburger’ narrative as opposed to the less accurate ‘Catholic vs Protestant’ one.

    The Cath/Prod thing isn’t 100% true.

  • between the bridges

    JR so the massive impact on your good self has been traffic delay and a drunk slobbering at 2am. Well seeing as this is a warts and all discussion i will strike back with the massive impact the GAA have on my travel arrangements and more importantly my BBQ’s! living 2.5 miles from the local GAA ground i can be delayed for countless minutes and hear every announcement (including fighting the Saxon foe) from the privacy of my ornamental mediation garden…

    Re the ’13th’, i am assuming july? probably a feeder or return for the RBP in Scarva.

    Re your question, traffic delays are a consideration, the 2012 12th in enniskillen (once every 7 years) had a new route designed to keep traffic flowing throughout the day as a diversion around enk can be up to 20 miles.
    Also a lot of the responsibility for traffic flow depends on the attitude of the PSNI liaison officer and the officer in charge at the event (unfortunately they are not always the same person so what is agreed with one may not get communicated to the other). Some take the attitude that cars should flow between bands and others that no cars should be on the same stretch of road.

  • JR

    BTB,

    If a dozen drunk men in GAA shirts in there mid 20’s stopped your car in the middle of the night in Crossmaglen and demanded you make a contribution to the IRA would you shrug it off as “Drunk slobbering”. I somehow doubt it.

    The difference between your GAA traffic disruption and that caused by two dozen people is GAA traffic is caused by volume, that is 10’s of thousands of people trying to get to the same place. It is people using roads for what roads are made for, getting from A to B. The volumes of traffic indicate an event that has popular support.

    You are still ducking the question though. Is it always justified for a small no of people, say 30, to block a major road during busy traffic where there is no easy diversion available for say 40min? Yes or no.

  • between the bridges

    JR your description has changed as has your question, originally you said ” being stopped by very drunk bandsmen at about two in the morning” now you ask me to compare that to ‘a dozen drunk men in GAA shirts”.

    As for the question i gave my reply take from it whatever you need to take from it….”Re your question, traffic delays are a consideration, the 2012 12th in enniskillen (once every 7 years) had a new route designed to keep traffic flowing throughout the day as a diversion around enk can be up to 20 miles.
    Also a lot of the responsibility for traffic flow depends on the attitude of the PSNI liaison officer and the officer in charge at the event (unfortunately they are not always the same person so what is agreed with one may not get communicated to the other). Some take the attitude that cars should flow between bands and others that no cars should be on the same stretch of road.”

  • redstar2011

    These drunken criminal thugs in their hate based so called culture of bands say they want to be treated more like their counterparts in Britain. Fine.

    In Scotland they have a bond to pay, insurance to pay and in most cases are not allowed to use more than one carriageway so that traffic can pass.

    But then of course they have a very a la carte attitude as to when they want to be ” British”

  • JR

    BTB, I thought you might have been interested in engaging but clearly not.

  • between the bridges

    JR i did, traffic delays are a consideration, they are not be all and end all.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Redstar

    “These drunken criminal thugs…”

    Could you make it clear if you’re referring to a minority of bandsmen or if this is how you see the majority of bands?

    Quincey has come on here hoping for discussion, that comment was hardly very helpful.

  • redstar2011

    Certainly AG

    The rabble parading nightly at Camp Twat are often drunk, thuggish and ALWAYS criminal as they are breaking the law every night with their un notified parades.

    That clear enough for you?

  • BluesJazz

    redstar2011

    Just to be really, really clear:
    You would include the likes of Field Marshal Montgomery pipe band as drunken criminal thugs?

    Or just the (very few) buckfast eejits you mention above?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    redstar

    “Certainly AG

    The rabble parading nightly at Camp Twat are often drunk, thuggish and ALWAYS criminal as they are breaking the law every night with their un notified parades.

    That clear enough for you?”

    Well no, it’s not
    Are you referring JUST to them or the drunken minority that we have mentioned a few times or is it how you see the entire band scene?

    Cos you did say “These drunken criminal thugs in their hate based so called culture of bands… ” but made no mention of Twaddell.