No doubt over the next few days there will be television and newspaper coverage (and not forgetting the boul Facebook of course) that will once again portray Orangemen as evil and wicked two headed demons from the netherworld, whose sole reason for existence is to tramp poor Catholics into the mud. It is the perspective of many that it pretty much is the media narrative all the time in truth, but it will get that little bit worse now for a few days or so.
And you know what, despite that, tens of thousands of families will currently be preparing for the 12th. Tens of thousands of ordinary people without so much as a hair of malice in them will be out because it’s what they are. Its important to them, and no matter how many people tell them they are wrong and throwbacks to the past, it remains important. And HUNDREDS of thousands of their family and friends will gather to watch, because even though they aren’t in the actual ‘walk’, it resonates deep inside them that it is a part of their identity.
It is lawful, it is a legitimate form of expression, and it is certainly no more objectionable than the ‘expressions’ of many other sub-cultures/ quasi-political movements that we endure daily.
At the weekend 100 Orangemen gathered in the Province of Connacht. They paraded unmolested to their church, and indeed returned unmolested or challenged. Connacht. Think about that for a minute.
The answer to ALL our issues in Northern Ireland can be summed up in one word…. toleration. Understanding would be better, respect would be desirable, but even if we can’t mutually muster those, a little bit of toleration would cure a lot of ills.
Unashamed Ulster Loyalist. Marching band activist and band member for over 25 years. Contributor for the Belfast Newsletter and currently studying History at QUB.