Gerry explains the facts of an Orange summer to Mervyn

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Picture by dunraven                         Picture by Sinn Fein

There was one particularly significant moment in the exchanges between Mervyn Gibson, Grand Chaplain of the Orange Order,  and Gerry Kelly on The View last night. Mervyn was explaining how lamentable it is that residents can’t accept the five or eight minutes it would take to allow their parades to be held in disputed areas. In other words, there’d be no problem about Orange marches if nationalists would simply stop being offended and allow the march to proceed peacefully through its chosen route.  It was at this point that Gerry  reminding the Orange leader that the number of parades which are contentious could be counted on the fingers of one hand, while some 3000 marches get to go ahead without any protest from nationalists. Could he not see that nationalists were giving and giving and giving again?

I think that about sums it up. What has always puzzled me is how nationalists are able to accept all those 3,000+ parades. But they do. An organisation that sees the Catholic faith as fatally flawed and doesn’t hang back about saying so, an organisation that reminds everyone in a divided society who won at Derry, Aughrim and the Boyne over three hundred years ago, an organisation that feels the need to repeat itself 3,000 times – what would you say such an organisation contributes to the healing of old wounds here, on a scale of 1-10? No, Virginia, there is no such score as a minus 90; but I see what you’re getting at.

There have been repeated attempts to rebrand the Twelfth and Orangeism as a happy Mardi Gras-type festival. Something that’d pull the tourists in. Alas, no go. Not only does the Twelfth repel possible tourists, it succeeds in sending as many nationalists as can afford it scrambling for the airports and motorways so they can get away somewhere, anywhere, to a place where thundering drums and flying batons and self-absorbed swagger are blessedly absent.

I know it may seem I keep coming back to this topic of Orangeism, but actually that’s not the case: Orangeism keeps coming back to me and all the rest of us. Year after year. Time after time, 3,000 annually. And did I mention you’re helping pay for demonstrations of triumphalism so distasteful, you simply leave  your home and get as far away as you can get?

I do like Paddykool (of this parish)’s suggestion of an arena, specially built, where spectators and performers could parade to their hearts’ content, at their own expense, and leave the rest of us to get on with our summer. But even though I know a lot of Orangemen genuinely don’t think their day out is offensive, the truth is rather different: it is. In fact, it would not be going too far to say that Orange marches, whether contentious or not, are an embarrassment and a barrier  that keeps us mired in the divided past. You Love Ulster? Then put the collarette in the cupboard, send the drum to a museum, use the flute to practice ‘Annie’s Song’. But please, please, please end this purblind parading that erects 3,000 roadblocks every year, preventing us all travelling forward to a better future.

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58 Responses to Gerry explains the facts of an Orange summer to Mervyn

  1. neill June 19, 2015 at 9:35 am #

    No problems getting rid of the orange order just as soon as you get rid of the Irish language and the GAA because they annoy Unionists good deal as far as I am concerned!

    • RJC June 19, 2015 at 11:52 am #

      Anything remotely Irish annoys a certain strain of Unionist. If we were to get rid of everything that annoyed Unionists then we’d also have to get rid of immigrants, homosexuals, rock’n’roll, freedom of speech, evolution and fun. That wouldn’t be too wise now, would it Neill?

    • paddykool June 19, 2015 at 1:44 pm #

      Are you serious, Neill? You are annoyed by the GAA and the Irish language.? Really? I would only have a cursory interest in either of these but they never get in my way or annoy me in any way.For the most part , for example , the GAA contains itself in its stadiums as it plays its games which is another good reason why the sporting activities of the assorted marching men of our parish might think about doing something similar., if only for health and Safety reasons.If the GAA can pretty much finance itself in this way, why should it be a stretch of the imagination for the Orange Order to attempt something similar and free up the roads.This kind of thing might actually work .I went into it in some detail ages ago but it hasn’t caught on and here we are back in our annual time-warp of bluster and bullshit.Jude’s right…people leave the place in droves annually .Now if it was a stadium festival …people could pick and choose, just like they pick and choose any other entertainment or cultural event.

      • giordanobruno June 20, 2015 at 7:06 am #

        Your stadium idea has not caught on,nor will it, because it will not work, as you must know.
        I think you and Jude, are being a tad disingenuous to suggest it is a good idea. It is only a good idea if you define that as ‘something to annoy neill’. How can you live here and think that the OO or broader Unionism would give up the parading element which they see as integral to the celebrations.
        As the tour of the North showed last night and as the Apprentice Boys in Derry have shown there may be small steps forward, which is the only way I feel.
        I would like to see parading greatly reduced and localised and I think it will happen over time.
        In the meantime we need strict enforcement of PC rulings, and clamping down on anti social behaviour,including the blight of young people freely starting fires in public places without reproach.
        There are no magic solutions

        • paddykool June 20, 2015 at 6:08 pm #

          Aw c’mon gio…what’s not to like ? your very own stadium to march about in …band competitions to see who are the best turned out and the best musicians. There could even be a one huge bonfire …all this complete with proper stewarding, health and safety and all the refreshments you’d need for a grand day out.Somewhere along the line it will be come unsustainable to block up already screwed up roads and towns anyway as traffic continues to grow apace . I can still remember the 1950’s and 1960’s when there were only a handful of cars on the roads.We’re on a different planet entirely now and changes will have to come, if only for logistical reasons. it’s the same with the crazy huge bonfires .Somewhere along the line one of these huge tribal burning towers will ignite a nearby street of houses and a row of oil tanks will go up in flames. It’s only a matter of time .not to mention the fact that the laws of the land are being constantly flouted..That can’t go on’s just mad.

          On the other hand , the GAA seem to have harnessed their community’s enthusiasm and their stadiums are growing in grandeur with each passing year and the enthusiasm for the games and the community spirit it engenders seems to grow with it.The stadium idea is well worth a look because nothing else has worked so far and all we get is the same old bitchfest from one year to the next. Like I said , i couldn’t much care either way and i’m no great sporting enthusiast anyway …should it be Gaelic games or soccer, but it is very apparent that the likes of the Orange Order need to take a really fresh look at how the future is unveiling. They are not in a good place by all accounts and they seem incapable of understanding just why that is .Any helping hand or novel idea should at least be looked at before we get too cynical.

          • giordanobruno June 21, 2015 at 9:01 am #

            I get the impression you have lived here most of your life. How have you managed to avoid meeting anyone from the Orange or Unionist tradition?
            That is the only way you could possibly think they would show any interest in your good idea.
            So of you are serious about it and not just stirring. I challenge you to go and do a little research. Go out and talk to a few people on parades and see what they think, because they are the people you have to persuade.

          • ben madigan June 21, 2015 at 7:05 pm #

            giordano bruno – you bear a proud name Unlike the original radical owner of the same, you seem unable/unwilling to judge an idea on its merits or otherwise. what’s not to like about a custom-built orange stadium

          • giordanobruno June 21, 2015 at 9:06 pm #

            ben madigan
            For an idea to have merit it should have some chance of success. This one has none.
            It is not what I think about it that matters it is whether it would have any chance of acceptance by the people who like to parade.So tell me honestly what do you think the reaction would be? Not what should it be, but what would it be?
            Or if you don’t know,go out and canvas a few Orange Lodges.
            I will be interested in your results.
            But to be fair to paddy I will amend my criticism to this. It is a good idea in principle but is totally useless as it will not be acceptable to the people it is aimed at.
            But I would be happy to be proved wrong.

    • PaulK June 19, 2015 at 6:47 pm #

      And of course Neill, the Irish language and the GAA have over 3000 parades per year, blocking roads all over the place just like the OO. And of course they both insist on imposing themselves in Unionist areas where they are not wanted.

      • paddykool June 21, 2015 at 9:21 pm #

        This is really the deal too…There are more “tribes” living here than simply little green men and little orange men , gio.. The world and the very streets are changing and in terms of a coming very different future forus all, a special stadium for this kind of street performance is something of a lifeline being offered to a tribe who seemingly cannot see the changes coming.Who is going to pay for this aggravation forever? It will have to become self_financing because the rest of us will not want to pay for it or want the constant nonsense that it carries with it.Like I say…grab it now before it is too late.It is not the OO which has to be persuaded, it all the population of which at the very least half might give it a little consideration ….and possibly many more.

        • giordanobruno June 22, 2015 at 5:31 pm #

          I am sorry but that gets us no closer to knowing how this idea would be implemented.
          Supposing over half the population were persuaded (unlikely but even so..) what then? Would it matter that the people who actually march and attend parades would not be happy?
          How would you enforce it?
          Legislation? How would that ever go through Stormont?
          Let’s say it did.
          What would prevent the OO having a legal protest march on the streets every year,say around the twelfth of July, with lots of music and stuff?
          Those are the most obvious logical questions you would need to answer if you were serious about your stadium

          • paddykool June 23, 2015 at 8:49 pm #

            What do you mean they would not be happy, gio?They would have a fantastic new Culture Stadium to use all year round for starters.It would be like saying that your culture has a legitimacy and has a future even when society changes and the streets can no longer accommodate you or you can no longer build huge bonfires because there is no longer any available wasteground to play about with..There will come a time when you will no longer be able to take over the streets of the land any time you choose.Try putting on a rock concert in the centre of any town any Saturday you feel like it and see how far you get without obeying every regulation in the book…

          • giordanobruno June 24, 2015 at 10:49 am #

            Have you met any Orangemen?
            I think you must have spent your life cloistered away with Brother Adam counting bees!
            You haven’t addressed any of the difficulties I pointed out with your idea so I assume you are only having a bit of a laugh.
            All the issues you raise about parades are real and indisputable.But they need a real world solution not fantasy.
            And whose back yard would you build this stadium in? Resident groups might have some worries.
            And where would the money come from to fund it?
            Any answers to these and my other questions?

          • Jude Collins June 24, 2015 at 11:29 am #

            Let me try, gio. Whose back yard? There must be some communities who’d welcome such an attraction – they’d be proud of it. As to the money: from the same place that the thousands and thousands are going to for Twaddell camp and for policing the thousands of annual parades.

          • giordanobruno June 24, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

            Thanks for the answers, feel free to have a crack at my other questions to paddy.
            You say there must be somewhere that would welcome it. That is not very specific.
            Most areas around Belfast are not completely removed from the ‘other lot’.
            You could not build a huge stadium,even in East Belfast and not expect it to impact on mixed communities or nationalist communities nearby.(Good luck there Short Strand residents!)
            Even within a protestant area,you are assuming a lot about the homogeneity of feeling there. Many in such a community may not welcome such a development at all.
            The cost would be hundreds of millions and street protests would no doubt still take place. A good deal for taxpayers.
            Would it be 1 stadium for the whole of the north,so everyone who now goes to a field in Benburb or whereever will now head off to Belfast or Lisburn instead?
            Will small band parades through the streets of Loughgall on a Sunday in June have to decamp to a 60000 seater stadium instead?
            Will St Patrick’s day also go to this stadium in the heart of a prod community?
            And so on……

          • paddykool June 24, 2015 at 9:02 pm #

            See gio …You are already thinking beyond the statement and tussling with the logistics of the idea.Planning…place….spend…all the details.The money could be found initially as Jude has said.They can always find the cash .After that the community would support it.Where to put it?Well think about it.If someone said to you gio…We’re raising the cash for a large stadium , specifically for the Orange Order to carry them into a whole new era….where should we place it?Where would be the very best place that would be accessible to everyone across the land? Given that this place is tiny and any one of us is prepared to travel across it for football matches, rock concerts , films, plays, even Ideal Home Exhibitions and Farming Shows…In fact they’ll go the length of the land to buy a spanner at a car boot sale or a box of fireworks at Nutts Corner market.Let’ S face it …they’ll go to the opening of an envelope so distance is hardly a factor in a land so small.It is a fact that we are rapidly changing times too so we need to prepare for a future very unlike our present.It will take fresh positive thinking ….new positive ideas.To think positively in a place so redolent of negativity might be a challenge at first but it is what is needed whether we like it or not.It is not an option to keep going round in circles forever…

          • giordanobruno June 25, 2015 at 9:50 am #

            We are indeed going round in circles,as you are not dealing with any of my points.
            The money (hundreds of millions) will just be found somewhere.
            Like Jude, you refuse to say where you would put it that would be acceptable . Somewhere will be found!
            You want to take away an integral part of this activity,and you think the participants might just accept it. Ridiculous.
            You do not say if legislation will be required nor how that would be brought forward.
            All objections dismissed with a wave of the hand.
            If you build it they will come! A remarkable leap of faith for a man of no faith.
            Much as I like and respect you paddy,you are simply being mischievious on this.

          • paddykool June 25, 2015 at 5:21 pm #

            Well gio …I’ll agree that I find much dark humour in some of the communal knots various factions in our communities have tied themselves into . There’ s no doubt there are many like myself who think like that . What is apparently viewed as acceptable behaviour here….. and which is performed on an annual loop , causing much mayhem and expense for all of us, is really risible and is akin to something out of the film “The Wicker Man”.It’s ridiculous and , yes, it makes a lot of laugh and be glad we’re not part of it….As you say…i’d rather talk to my bees because i’d get a lot more sense out of them.

            I think you’d find many who would think like that but they are basically wary of expressing their point of view for fear of a fanatical response.Some don’t even care and many get away offside for the whole of the summer if they can.It’s been a long tradition for people to flee from Norneverland just before the 11th night. They obviously want nothing to do with any of it and all the associated law-breaking and aggravation..

            For too long here too many people have been encouraged by devious or blind-eyed politicians , to break and bend the laws of the land whenever they feel like it . …should that be the burning of huge and dangerous bonfires or stubbornly wanting to march where a community very obviously doesn’t want them to. Frankly , it would be all the same if a gang of football supporters wanted to cavort and display outside their homes every year.I wouldn’t want it either thank you very much.There is all the nonsense of effigy-burning and flaunting of “sacred” flags…and that includes the reciprocal flying and possibly burning of tricolours .All that tit for tat shit. That stuff has happened every year so if it has to end sometime … An alternative must be found.

            This does not mean we are talking about the entire population , of course.They are just a very noisy part of it. I have to repeat that each one of us still have to pay for all of it whether or not we agree with either orange or green or none of it at all. I find the flying of any kind of flags asinine behaviour anyway , so they’ll all offend me .I wouldn’t have any of them about the place.

            So down to brass tacks gio. Your position appears to be that the OO won’t buy this idea at any price .You think they will flat out refuse to even think about it ,let alone discuss the nuts and bolts of it.Is that right? Well , i’ll grant you that you yourself are approaching it as though to consider it would spell a loss of some kind for the Orange Order . Your take is that the OO will lose something or that their culture will be kicked…or at least they’ll feel that way. They’ll have to think a little more deeply about their culture and what it actually means .

            Well think about it. Think about the possible gains for everyone.As I write this , the news is that the Orange Order has now got its own museum.That’s a positive step for them is it not? What would be the problem in going a step further and embracing an idea that has been a staple for rock fans for some forty or fifty years. Glastonbury has just started today too and that developed on the site of a dairy farm in Somerset. Now it is attended by hundreds of thousands of festival goers and appears to have grown into a huge economic miracle for that area.There is an annual influx of money.The punters have to eat after all.

            Where would you place such a thing in Norneverland ? Well , let’s see , given that we are not simply talking about Belfast as the centre of the known universe. Maybe some land could be requisitioned around Loughgall, the heartland of the OO…what do you think? Or maybe somewhere in Antrim. We earlier mentioned Nutts Corner where they now seem to have nothing but a huge Sunday Market which is attended with some regularity from all over the country …a day out no less!. Maybe land would be made available there….or {don’t laugh now , gio} the Maze site is still undeveloped .There’s a sort of near perfect symmetry there, isn’t there? Why not ear mark it . Sinn Fein and Nationalism might find some closure in that this site might draw the sting of chaos from every future Summer.

            I’ll put it like this.If a road , roundabout, town or a railroad has to be built , the land will be bought to do it . Look at what they did in building Craigavon.It might be a white elephant but they went ahead and built it anyway .Many people drive twenty or thirty miles every week to shop in it and have a poke about.It worked in an offhand way in the end.

            Now the idea and the selling of it . Okay , every idea needs a good sales pitch and a good salesman to put it across. It takes positivity in explaining all the benefits and possible repercussions that might be involved.The benefits would be economic and wholly social .Certainly ,the community who had such an edifice in the backyard would have jobs galore for starters. The local community would thrive. There would be a focus for the Orange Order and the commitment would mean that all the ideas of forever marching the roads would be an activity consigned to the past . That’ll happen eventually anyway because towns can’t afford it. Infrastructure and inter-connecting communications systems would be developed and supported by the Orange enthusiasts just like any other festival or event. If the numbers were great enough they could be self sustaining and with built-in security.
            What all of that would mean would be that all the aggression we’ve known in the past on the streets would be gone and all the money we have constantly wasted and are still wasting would go instead to keeping the tradition alive in a less aggressive situation.
            After that if individuals want to break the laws of the land , the Orange Order could claim to be blameless and these individuals would be on their own.
            In any case ,we’d have peace on all the streets for a change and maybe then we could develop into something like a normal society.
            After all we all pay for this…remember… if you have any positive ideas to develop this , gio, they’d be more than welcome.Or maybe you have another idea that would close the open wound that is our lives here. What have we got to lose by thinking new thoughts? Some other idea might spring from the bones of this one .Give it a shot.

          • giordanobruno June 26, 2015 at 12:19 pm #

            Not to flog a dead horse, but your lengthy reply merits a response.
            Your first few paragraphs, I agree with, no question, so lets look at the brass tacks.
            Yes I do think the main stumbling block would be Orange intransigence/stubborness. Frankly the only way you will get them to march in a stadium is by telling them they are not allowed to.
            But why not pitch it too them and come back with your findings, seriously.
            It might generate a better idea.
            Whether you put in Loughgall or Antrim, you are making a big assumption about the feelings of populations in those areas
            Would you see it as catering only for the twelfth? You hardly expect all the 3000 small parades to relocate to a huge stadium, including those that parade to church on a Sunday?
            Or is it only the problematic, mainly Belfast, parades you are wanting to relocate?
            Mainly the problem is I cannot see how you will persuade people that they should no longer march the Queen’s highway, as they put it.
            It will need one hell of a salesman!

          • paddykool June 26, 2015 at 9:33 pm #

            I think that eventually there will be fundamental change ànyway.T he OO are not the only show I town….but they do tend to monopolise the roads of the land…..roads which are built for car traffic and lorries …not band’s of marching men.People are presently already tussling about the rights of cyclists and their lack of road licences and insurance… the. world is chanting. It is unrealistic to see a future with 3000 parades on those roads…so yes the stadium is a game changer all over.It is anew way of behaving and exercising a right to a culture……for all parades.

          • paddykool June 27, 2015 at 8:36 am #

            Sorry about the grammatical blips in that last piece …banged out on the wee Hudl late on Friday night …one and a half sheets to the windward….!

        • giordanobruno June 27, 2015 at 12:19 pm #

          Yes I wondered if worldwide chanting was part of your plan
          Personally I see things changing gradually rather than a sudden decision to move all orange (only orange?) parades into a stadium.
          If the heat can be taken out of the controversial ones by consultation and better policing, then I think a gradual decline in numbers of Orange membership will lead to a reduction in parades and a more sensible approach to dealing with them.
          More prosaic than building a stadium, but a bit more realistic too.
          In the meantime I await the results of your market research.

    • TheHist June 19, 2015 at 6:51 pm #

      Neill, can you outline how the GAA and Irish language offend you / Unionist community. Both the GAA and Irish language very willingly embrace other traditions, cultures and religions. The Orange Order constitution forbids Catholic membership or any real affiliation with the Catholic religion. I have known Protestant members of the GAA and Protestant Irish language speakers – do you know any Catholic members of the Orange Order? … Oh wait … Ammmmm … Please refer to above …

    • Ryan June 19, 2015 at 7:06 pm #

      Yes Neill, lets get rid of the Irish language and Irish sports…..from the island of Ireland??? If I said Kenyans should get rid of the Kenyan language, their native sports, etc I would be rightly called an extreme bigot and racist. So what does that make you Neill?….

  2. Iolar June 19, 2015 at 9:54 am #

    Clerical errors

    It is evident that a meeting between the proconsul and members of the Orange Order on 15 June 2015 did not process along the desired route. This was followed by more bluster at Westminster and a ‘declaration’ from the Orange Order to the Chief Constable that the Order will not do the work of the police. Now what on earth does that imply? Another Judicial Review is to be undertaken concerning contentious parading.

    The reality is that some parades are associated with conflict and project negative images throughout the world. An Orangefest that needs a phalanx of land rovers, water cannons and riot police is an expression of the unacceptable face of sectarianism that is alive and well in the north of Ireland.

  3. Eleanor Dent June 19, 2015 at 10:08 am #

    Great article! i think the flute tune you’re thinking of is ‘Annie’s Song,’ though, as made famous by Sr James Galway (his version of the John Denver tune.)

    • Jude Collins June 19, 2015 at 11:28 am #

      Thank you, Eleanor, and of course you’re right. I’ll amend my lazy blunder…

  4. RJC June 19, 2015 at 10:18 am #

    It’s not merely the marching that is so utterly reprehensible, but also the associated flags, bonfires, sectarian displays and triumphalist behaviour. This is not simply a problem that rears its ugly head in July, although it reaches its zenith/nadir during the Summer months when these sick counties resemble nothing so much as Nuremberg in the 1930s.

    Orangeism is an ideology of hate. These are not reasonable people. They know no shame. Perhaps it’s time for us to take a leaf out of Big Ian’s book. Perhaps it’s time to Smash the Orange Order.

    • TheHist June 19, 2015 at 7:39 pm #

      “RePEEL (sp) the ORANGE Order” ha

  5. ANOTHER JUDE June 19, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

    Who exactly is Mervyn Gibson? Is he elected by anyone? What exactly are his links to the Order and to the loyalist paramilitaries? Paddykool`s suggestion is indeed a good one, I am sure Catholics wouldn`t mind their tax being used to build a stadium for the Orange and it`s followers to use, however as we know that would take the craic out of the glorious day, there would be no taigs to antagonise, no Fenian chapels to strut around in a circle like demented Apaches doing a rain dance. Like a lot of the problems here the answer lies across the water, as long as the British monarchy maintains it`s hateful anti Catholic bias there will be people here encouraged to hate Catholics. We saw the reaction of people like Jeffrey Donaldson when someone suggested amending the laws, until they go we will continue to see it`s principles being taken to their absurd yet quite logical conclusion.

  6. James June 19, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

    Neill, you worry me, are you sure the sun is not getting to you. Sometimes I think you are just making these comments to get a reaction. I think there might be a little bit of the mischief-maker about you. Surely you don’t really believe what you are saying. You are smarter than that I am sure.
    I don’t see the Irish language or the GAA marching past (let me rephrase that) attempting to march past, locations where they are not wanted.
    The Irish language hurts nobody and the GAA is one of the amateur sporting organisations which is held in great esteem worldwide.
    Thankfully the days of these sectarian Orange marches being forced upon people, with the help of the State, are now gone, despite the longed-for hopes of the loyal brethern.
    I know you like to present a balanced argument Jude, In your last paragraph you mention that there are Orangemen who genuinely don’t believe they give offence by their marches Let’s call a spade a spade Jude, these ‘moderate Orangemen’ are very few and far between. Bigotry is the Orangeman’s stock in trade, no more, no less. Thankfully their days are coming to an end. Anybody like to hazard a guess as to their present numbers, a figure in the region of 30,000 has been bandied about? Hard to believe there are 30,000 people living in a 1690’s time-warp.

  7. Séamus Ó Néill June 19, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

    Neill I thought your comment was so ill thought out ,maybe rash, that I smiled …..but ,I thought ,what if he is serious. Equating the sectarianism of the O O with one of the oldest and most beautiful languages in Europe is ludicrous…..Tá Gaeilge agam ,I speak Irish….it is a language ,a means of communication used in Ireland for millennia ,not for one but for all peoples who wish to learn it. Gaelic games ,also played for millennia, are sports ,open to all ,with religion or not ,no questions asked and if there are any barriers in your mind to either the language or the games it is of your own construct.As for the OO , populations worldwide know exactly what their motive and reasoning is……and its not for communication or sport !

  8. neill June 19, 2015 at 2:35 pm #

    James Seamus and others I attacked something you loved and immediately your backs went up can you see now why unionists backs go up when you condemn the organisation they love.

    I know you wont believe it but Orangemen are not devils incarnate they are ordinary folks and the 12th and the marches are part of my communities background in fairness there are serious issues that have to be looked at in the Belfast region of the orange order.

    • paddykool June 19, 2015 at 10:31 pm #

      That is not what we are discussing at all Neill….you have a problem with the GAA and the Irish language which is not the same thing.These people are not filling the streets with thousands of marching men.S o what is your problem with them?…Like I said they do not bother me because they do not intrude on my life unless I should want to engage but the OO parades and paraders expect the rest of the world to simply roll over and stop for them…most of us would rather eat our own children.

    • Ryan June 20, 2015 at 4:47 pm #

      The difference is Neill, the GAA and the Irish language doesn’t permit people of one chosen religion to join and they certainly don’t have a history of preaching hate, violence and even committing murder of people because they don’t share the same religion, which was why the Orange Order was founded in the first place.

      And to say all Unionists “love” the Orange Order is ridiculous. The Orange Orders membership today is 1/3 of what it was in the 1960’s and its still declining as the years go by.

      Reality is there’s just as many Unionists that are sick of the Orange Order and their antics as there are nationalists.

      The Orange Order provide the yearly “sectarian top up” to community tensions here on the 12th July. That’s not counting the other 3000 odd parades they have the rest of the year…

  9. Willie D. June 19, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

    I’m never quite sure where this figure of 3,000 Orange parades every year comes from, it has always seemed very large to me. To educate myself I looked at the Orange Order’s website, which states that there will be 18 Twelfth parades this year, which will be held on 13th July, as the 12th falls on a Sunday. Even doubling this number by counting the return parade from the field, only brings you up to 36. So when and where do the other 2,964 take place? Of course, you could lump in District church parades, which usually involve one band and a few orange men walking a short distance to and from a church ; but this would still bring you nowhere near 3,000. I presume the figure is arrived at by counting all band parades of a Unionist/Loyalist hue, but these are not orange parades, as they are not organised by the Orange Order, but are held under the auspices of a local band. I suppose from a nationalist point of view they are all lumped together as “Orange.”
    The Irish language is a complete red herring. The G.A.A., although completely Catholic/Nationalist, is not an analogous organisation as public parading is not a central part of its activities. The closest analogy on the Nationalist side would be the A.O.H., which paradoxically often had quite cordial relations with the Orange Order, or at least it did in the part of rural Co Antrim where I grew up, with people attending each others’ parades. The understandable sectarian bitterness of Belfast was not replicated everywhere.

    • ben madigan June 20, 2015 at 3:29 pm #

      the figure of 3000- odd Unionist/loyalist/ orange parades a year comes from the parade Commission’s annual report to Westminster . As you will see below Church parades are not included in this total but are inserted under “Other” parades

      Please compare and contrast with 119 parades organized by nationalist groups

      2013-14 parading season

      The number of notified parades organised by the loyal orders and broad Unionist tradition
      2,766 (2012-13: 2,569) represents 59% of the overall total.

      The number of notified parades organised Nationalist groups 119 (2012-13: 175) was a slight decrease from the previous year but remains low at 3% of the overall total.

      There were 1,780 (2012-13: 1,705) notified “other” parades. This category includes charity,
      civic, rural and sporting events, as well as church parades. Collectively, these now made up
      38% of the overall total number of parades (2012-13: 38%).

      The number of notified parades deemed to be sensitive increased significantly to 491 (2012-
      13: 215). The significant increase is largely due to the nightly and weekly parades at
      Woodvale / Twaddell areas of Belfast.

  10. pointis June 19, 2015 at 3:52 pm #

    Hi Jude,

    We have discussed this issue before and I think it is worth exploring. The issue of contention is “the decent Orangemen who don’t hate Catholics”. To be an Orangeman or woman you have to swear an oath that you will never marry a Catholic or for that matter have your of spring marry one. Nor are you allowed to attend a place of Catholic worship.

    Now tell me honestly if I was living in any other part of these East Atlantic Isles would an Afro-Caribean man think I was a decent fair minded fellow of I told him that I liked him a lot but I couldn’t possibly ascent to letting my daughter marry his son because I have signed up to an organisation which doesn’t allow intermarriage with ‘your sort’?

    I would suggest to you that that man would think I was a racist old bigot for consentully signing up to such an obnoxious club and I would wager that he would be shocked that I was being so brazen as not to hid my membership of such a repugnant organisation!

    Ah, I hear you say but all my family have a tradition of belonging to the same chapter of this same non integrationist club! Do you really stand over the defence that someone can claim a greater moral integrity in belonging to a racially offensive organisation if there was a familial history of doing so? Really?

  11. Caoimhín June 19, 2015 at 4:04 pm #

    Neil, although I appreciate that unionists feel the Irish language doesn’t represent them, Irish language speakers and organisations have tried to reach out to this community. The reverse is generally true of the orange order, and in some cases it shows outward hostility towards Catholics.

  12. Perkin Warbeck June 19, 2015 at 5:16 pm #

    Time was, Esteemed Blogmeister, and a very good time it was when the staff of The Unionist Times used to decamp en masse every year without fail on the evening of the 11th July at Amiens Street Station in Dublin 1 and, at the drop of the mandatory green flag and the toot on the station master’s whistle, head north of the Black Sow’s Dyke, Belfast bound..

    All aboard the legendary hired choo-choo dutifully decked out in bunting all in the 40 shades of the Big O, from amber and deep carrot via mandarin and all the way to Mi Wadi and tangerine itself: That would be, of course, the Orange Blossom Special.

    Clickety-clack, clickety-clack, clickety-clack.

    Train and typewriter.Train and typewriter. Train and typewriter.

    And not just a selection of the staff but every last man jack and jill of them all the way up the tea-lady herself

    .(The latter to get her annual refresher course in how to properly prepare that necessary ingredient of the Ulster fry, griddle bread – soda bread and potato farls, fried until crisp and golden).

    Divils for detail The Unionist Times. Always were.

    It has been solemnly opined in the groves of academe itself that the vast acreage of coverage lavished on the hi-jinks of the hardy annual known as the Lardy Gras by the Clockwork Orangefolk in the edition of July 13th of TUT, did more to unite the island of Ireland than a hundred thousand orations at the graveside of W. Tone in Bodenstown,

    And who would be so crass as to diss that measured verdict? As the immortal epitaph of Sir Christopher Wren has it: si monumentum requiris, circumpice.

    Voila: one, united, all inclusive, sans frontiers: Orange Free State.

    And all done without once having to resort to the easy option of the lazy hack by quoting that masterpiece of nonsectarian inclusivity:

    -Here’s to the glorious, pious and immortal memory of the great and good King William who saved us from slavery and knavery, witchery and bitchery, thuggery and buggery, brass farthings and wooden shoes, and to hell with the Bishop of Rome. And he who will not drink this toast may he be crammed, jammed and rammed down the big gun of Athlone, and may I be there with a flaming flambeau to torch him off and may he fly round the world like bees round a treacle pot on a summer’s afternoon !”.

    And even if it had – this,erm, booing of the Bishop – there is not the slightest iota of a doubt in that which Prekie is still pleased to call his mind, but that it would have been pooh-poohed.

    Much in the light-hearted manner of, say, the doing of the unmentionable in a confined and crowded space (such as a lift or a car or a chair-o-plane on a ski slope itself). Which is inevitably dismissed thus:

    -Somebody’s opened their lunch-box and egg sambos are on the men…..u-hoo !

    Of course, now that the ambish has been achieved (see dissing the Bish, celebrating the coming out from under the beds of our separated breds and into the Orange Free, State above) the Orange Blossom Special has been decommissioned.

    This has resulted in a vacuum. And , of course, as Mother TUT abhors the v-word has filled the lavish space with our equivalent down here of the Twalfth up there: Bloomsday on the 16th June.

    Which TUT-inspired jamboree (the equiv of an orange marmaladeee) has proved so popular and elastic indeed that it has now been stretched to become Bloomsmonth itself.

    While the similarity might not be immediately obvious the second glance will verify that these two manifestation of old frolics are as parallel as, erm, train tracks. J. Joyce who was nothing if not his father’s son, that snobby, social climbing josser from Cork. loathed the Gaelic thingy with a pash. This included the mere games and patois of Paddy Stink and Mickey Mudd.

    Hence, his joyously racist take on the founder of the GAA, the leprechaun-spouting, Michael Cusack. Who is shylocked as the reprehensible character in Ulysses known as The Citizen.

    Hence, the highlight of this year’s Bloomsuslaem was the FAI-lure of NAMA to sell off the Spawell Sports Centre in Templeogue, Dublin to the Dublin County Board of the GAA. Though the bid of the latter wing of the Grab All Association, out of its own pockets. was actually over the 6 plus million asking price.

    Contrast this with the decision the previous week of the Dublin City Council to fork out almost 4 million of the tax-payer’s moolah to purchase Dalymount for the benefit of a bankrupt Bohemians FC of the Bootyful Game fame.

    NAMA of course rhymes with Bananarama. No coincidence, for if one happens to phone NAMA one will hear their ring tone which sounds remarkably similar to the Bananarama hit: ‘Every Shade of Blue’.

    In the case of NAMA this refers to every shade of b. provided it is the, erm, Leinster gansey shade of true blue.

    And therein lay the flaw of the Dublin GAA Board’s bid: they forgot to include the de rigeur codicil that their intention to build a 25,000 seater stadium was primarily with a view to accommodate the once-off Oirish bid for the Egg-chasing World Cup in 20 Oh Dot..

    As J.Joyce put it so succintly: they could have done with ‘an agenbite of inwit’.

    Agus gan ach an meid sin a ra.

  13. Gearoid June 19, 2015 at 6:56 pm #

    It seems Neil has hung himself on his own orange petard.

    • paddykool June 20, 2015 at 6:24 pm #

      The thing is Gearoid , I’m willing to give neill the benefit of the doubt every time, but he makes these wild assertions about things such as the one above , but when questioned about any of it , he never attempts to explain exactly what he means or where he gets the ideas. There needs to be more clarity….. neill then goes quiet for a while and says nothing.Sometimes I feel that neill thinks this is all about simply scoring points against each other , rather than having a rational conversation between a group of adults and maybe sorting out a few ideas.I like to know how someone comes up with their own personal slant on things…neill’s imput is sketchy one-liners at best, though. .

      • neill June 21, 2015 at 11:59 pm #

        To have a rational discussion Paddykool you have to be rational when you say a stadium should be be built to host orange marches frankly I wonder if you rational what intrigues me is that you find your arguments logically obviously you know little about your unionist neighbours and what perturbs me the most is that you are one of the more liberal contributors to this blog!

        • paddykool June 22, 2015 at 5:42 pm #

          Well neill …..I really don’t mind whether my neighbours are green, orange or blue. I see a world where we have a radically changing population. We have all kinds of races living with us now right across the land .They will have many religions and none at all. They will carry their cultural baggage with them and their children will go to school here, carrying their values and grafting new ideas onto them .These are our future. These are our future citizens and they are with us already.

          As well as that we have a rapidly changing land with traffic choked streets. We have shopkeepers under constant pressure to keep their doors open too as they count the footfall.We have street businesses closing hand over fist.They don’t need any more hassle.

          All of that is the real world out there. There are not just two tribes at war…green and orange and I am in neither of those… .There are many tribes with little or no interest in any of that and have only a vague notion about what any of the conflict is actually about .As for the Orange Order, why would someone like myself care what they did unless they messed up my day in some way .That might involve blocking off towns , roads or streets. Why would I want that?

          What interest would I have with an organisation which appears to represent some of the most conservative and strange values to someone like myself who doesn’t believe in any kind of religion or gods and is quite happy in that..

          Some might find cultural pursuits within the Orange Order…possibly musical ones , but I wouldn’t be one of them .Simply put , it is not the kind of music that I find life -enhancing. I’d find nothing in it for me .That doesn’t mean that I think it should be banned , of course…just that it is not enforced on me personally. I don’t believe in marching bands , bibles and banners. i’m afraid. I think that should be anyone’s personal business.

          I’ve surely worked alongside and talked with many men who have been members of this organisation, but I don’t believe I’d ever find much in common with them because , frankly they seem to believe in quite a lot of things that I find absurd. Belief in god is one , for example as i’ve mentioned , but there are many that they and their bedfellows seem to believe in too. Marching through areas where they are not wanted in for historical reasons to do with past acts of violence seems to be one worth teasing out . I find it absurd that they don’t understand why that is.

          Then there is the ideas that many seem to have about gays, Muslims,Creationism , theatre, art ..anything progressive ….it goes on and on. All of that rolled into a ball makes them appear to be from some little planet lost in time to me and many others who maybe don’t articulate it freely. That’s fine , if like the Amish they want to live outside of the “real life” as the rest of us know it, but who wants that recessive vision rammed down their throat every year?

          I would go as far as saying that a majority of people… all across the land , if given the idea or the choice of building a stadium to accommodate this cultural blip might give it some thought. Even some of those who hold this expression dear to them but are themselves fed up with the annual aggression .There would be a significant number who would think it was worth thinking about if only for a bit of peace at last.

          .The so-called “Irish Nationalists” {that’d be the green ones} might find favour with it and they are a very significant grouping.They fill GAA stadiums to the rafters every time there is a game , so they would have some idea of that group feeling that goes with it and what it might mean to a community. Between that “nationalistic ” grouping and the many who do not cleave to either community’s doctrines either madly religious or politically culturally orange or green ….which includes many , many young people who do not carry the awful stain of our past divisions…and never will…{I would include my own paganistic children in that group} …that huge swathe of people would be open to taking this annual festival into a more controlled arena where it can be an expression entirely for those who wish to participate and would free up everyone else.

          .After all , there are many tribes of the young and old who attend a plethora of rock festivals attesting to their tastes in punk, metal , reggae, hip hop , country, blues , jazz., folk….they are not all the same after all. They already know what individual taste in a cultural event actually means and they pay to go and enjoy it .What is the problem with any of that ?Think about it and don’t tell me it will not fly with the Orange Order and that’s the end of it .They are not the only people living here and we are all paying the cost of it all at present, after all..

  14. TheHist June 19, 2015 at 6:59 pm #

    Jude, spot on article – I notice the “respect our culture” banner that seemingly leads many parades / protests now – I can’t help but think, that in essence this means, “respect our culture … as we disrespect you, your views, your opinion, your culture, your beliefs, your differences and everything that separates us … But we want to march … So respect that.”

  15. dededeoprofundis June 19, 2015 at 10:53 pm #

    Themmuns on the mainland should be pushing for parity and having the twelfth as a national holiday.

  16. Francis June 20, 2015 at 12:29 am #

    You are much too kind to the KKK Jude. They will not wither, so they need a shove. Hate laws need enacted as current legislation is inadequate, and they need Proscribed, just like the drug fueled Death dealing Scoundrels they sit shoulder to shoulder with from the UVF…why allow them to lead last years Twelfth festival of urine, through our streets. A number of Unsolved Murder inquiries and drugs aplenty poisoning our communities.

    Question Mervyn,,,Why do allow UVF Bands, one even named after a Shankill Butcher even walk in the same display nevermind lead it, if you ascribe to the notion that you’re Christian?…….long silence.

    The Orange Order are not a Christian Organization at all Fact.

    Christ was the New Covenant, Forgiveness, Social Justice, Harmony among men(and women). The edicts of the Orange Statutes convolute this progressive approach, and grab on to the wraths of the Old God Covenant, liberally to justify their obstructive beligerence.

    I was attacked as a teenager unwisely trying to cross the Road in the Centre Donegall place. I ventured first to hop across….These puritans went into overdrive, bang they closed around me I was hit with an bowler hat, two umbrellas, though it might have been three, one of which a Year later had fractured a rib when X-rayed for an another mishap…when I got back to my fenian mates, a woman standing with her buggy between chew, said loudly,-“It’s well seen yous have nathin to be proud of”….we retreated down fountain lane to Castle Street and licked my wounds while my mates generallly laughed the pish fest. A cop had stood beside and purposely refusing to interfer after all, its the law to protect Citizes…..Protecting the Supremacists is their charge, and no other.

    They must be banned hence forth, and calling this a civil duty to embrace their Culture, ,

  17. George June 20, 2015 at 6:29 am #

    As I have mentioned elsewhere on Jude’s blogs, I paraded in a loyalist band for many years all over Ulster during the years of the Troubles. Why did I do it? In truth, it was mainly an act of defiance. I saw what the IRA were doing nightly on our TV screens and it was my way of saying, “I’m not scared of you, your not going to beat me”. Neal and his comments about the GAA and the Irish language deserve further consideration rather than.

    Why do Orangemen and bands feel the need to continue parading? In simple terms it is still the same reason that I paraded. They fear the gradual erosion of their Unionist identity. They see the Republican strategy of trying to smash them with their well orchestrated residents protest groups and they dig in rail against that.

    And they see the GAA and the promotion of the Irish Language in much the same way. They see it as another strand of the agenda to push them towards a United Ireland. And consider for a moment that they just might have a point – that the dual language road signs and pamphlets in the doctors surgery are all part of a Republican plot to wind them up. What do they do? They do what Protestants do best – they protest. Of course, I can see that it’s all a load of nonsense, that parading is more than a bit embarrassing. But if you want it to end (and I for one do), stop giving them reasons to parade. I guarantee, that over time it will just fade away and stop.

    • ben madigan June 21, 2015 at 3:20 pm #

      george – how would you feel about detaching young bandsmen/women from their brutal sectarian image by offering them something like what is proposed here ?

    • Emmet June 28, 2015 at 2:13 am #

      George you seem to be reasonable person. I think the chicken and egg argument is coming up again. The residents groups are responding to parades that bring bigotry to their doorsteps. I could give you a list of disgusting things that happen when these parades go through Catholic areas. But from the inception of the Orange Order they have sought to march through catholic areas and the deaths over the last few hundred years in the month of July are sickening. We can’t link Protestant paranoia about the GAA, signposts and residence groups to the Catholic dislike of the Orange Order even in the pursuit of trying to give politically correct balance.

      I think Protestants/Unionists in the north should sit down together and agree on a list of things they think is part of their culture. They should be open and honest. If marching through Catholic areas is on that list so be it, but I would like to see how many Unionists can then stand up and say that list encapsulates my culture. Might seem like a scary exercise, but I am sure that the majority of Unionist/Protestants would like more culturally rich activities and maybe they could even showcase the more peaceful part of the culture with their Catholic neighbours. Maybe there will be some atheist unionists who might have a few traditions that everyone could celebrate?

      I admit, I am ignorant of Unionist culture. When on the receiving end of ‘unionist culture’ it has always seemed medieval and cruel (Burning effigies, flags, attacking nationalists, urinating everywhere, fighting between bands, arguments and alcohol). I would like to hear more about the positive side, maybe this is where the unionist community should focus on sharing and not on the Orange Order (keep that within the unionist community- we have no desire to share that).

  18. neill June 20, 2015 at 9:12 am #

    The point I was trying to make perhaps not to subtly was in a divided society if you attack the other communities culture you will get a reaction from that community it’s obvious many people on here love Irish and The GAA which is great equally Unionists have a great love of the Orange Order

    I don’t dislike or like the GAA the Irish language or the Orange Order they are part and parcel of our culture you can’t take away from one without doing the same do your culture

  19. John June 20, 2015 at 12:47 pm #

    Could someone please explain to me as to why the supposed peace loving GAA have competitions for children that are named after dead terrorists, before you throw accuse the orange order of being sectarian, get your own house in order, what about the sectarian comments made to a young unionist playing GAA concerning the murder of his father, answer on a postcard, unionist populace see you as nothing more than a sectarian grouping with a sense of hypocrisy

    • Michael June 21, 2015 at 12:39 am #

      Any comments made regarding dead relatives in the context of a sporting event should rightly be condemned by all right thinking people.

      However how can you call the GAA sectarian when anybody can participate in it unlike the Orange Order which bans Roman Catholics from joining it?

  20. Francis June 21, 2015 at 4:04 am #

    Sorry John to be so blunt to you but, nonsense, and I strongly suspect you are aware of the Irrationalism inherent in what you say. The poor misunderstood and insecure Unionist fear of an equality agenda and parity of esteem,- you obviously know better than to indulge this utter absurdity, thus it is incumbent on you John, to spread the word among fellow Unionist brethren, that to fear Equality, is to resent Equality….Equality unites….insecure reactionary’s tripe, Divides, simple, but obvious…Spread the word, and stop hiding behind what the poor misguided irrationalists among the swelled fetid ranks of the orders, and the culture of pissing on lampposts to mark territory often shared by all the communiited, .bl guy gres

    • neill June 22, 2015 at 12:02 am #

      Didn’t answer his question did you? Many on here like to poke unionism but don’t like it when it is returned….

  21. Gearoid June 22, 2015 at 5:01 pm #

    To answer John’s point, there have been some regrettable instances of anti-protestant comments made on GAA pitches as well as competitions which namecheck people with Republican backgrounds . But these examples pale very much into insignificance when it comes to loyalist bands whose names glorify loyalist terrorism, bandsmen urinating outside Catholic churches and singing such grossly offensive songs as the “Famine song”.

  22. sorley July 4, 2015 at 4:04 pm #

    I understand that there are now 34.000 memebers of the Orange Order. This is about 2% of the population. So why are they able to dominate society to such an extent, to cll the shots in all activities.