In praise of Ulster’s heartbeat – the Lambeg drum

  I don’t think anything better defines the Twelfth for me than the sight and the sound of a well-played Lambeg drum. Pun intended, but the oul Lambeg is hard to beat. I’ll be honest, though. The first time I heard a Lambeg as a child – at a Twelfth parade in Moira if I recall correctly – I must have jumped so high out of my skin that I could have touched the top of arch. But gradually, as … Read more

If progress is to be made on dangerous bonfires, the political footballs need to be kept firmly in the bag

The bonfire is not, as you would think from all the commentary, an exclusive feature of July Orangeism. In my own Tyrone village for instance – which is predominantly Catholic in population, but broadly quite apolitical in attitude – various housing estates would traditionally compete at Halloween time to see who could build the biggest bonfire. Yes, there were even incarnations of those bonfires that were situated rather recklessly. Fundamentally, the concept of the bonfire is something which working classes … Read more

“Mammy, why do we not have a flag on our house?”

Mairia Cahill writes on her impressions of visiting a bonfire site on the lower Shankill yesterday, and how a child’s eye view, unencumbered by the narrative framing of cultural matters, helped her see another side to the celebrations of The Twelfth. A week ago, I caused consternation amongst some of the hardline Loyalist community for raising the issue of flags flying from lampposts. I asked was there any “need” to fly large Union Jacks from in an effort to understand … Read more

BBC NI’s “The Twelfth” live coverage in 2012 complied with impartiality guidelines, but questions must remain about how the Twelfth is covered

The BBC’s live coverage of The Twelfth of July parade through Belfast city centre becomes more anachronistic with every passing year. Last year, a complaint was made to the BBC and later in the post I’ll refer to the finding. While the capital city’s parade remains the longest across Northern Ireland (Armagh is the largest), the numbers of Orangemen and women marching in each lodge is thinning out, often marching two abreast where once eight would have walked, and nowadays … Read more

Platform proceedings: the Orders in their own words

With the County Grand Lodge considering a judicial review of the Parades Commission ruling, a spokesman for the County Grand Lodge of Belfast has said: In addition to the normal denials of rights and freedoms that the Parades Commission regularly impose, this impossible demand would deny these brethren the opportunity to attend the platform proceedings, including the religious service at Barnett Demesne… A recurring contradiction in the Orders’ position is in selectively citing examples of quiet country parades while demanding … Read more