it out now and don't let stick-in-the-mud political
parties hijack parades to delay the peace process
and the return of Stormont!
the blunt message from the overwhelming majority
of the North's 1.7 million population to the leaderships
of the Loyal Orders and residents' groups.
the parades controversy kicked off in the North
in the mid Eighties in Portadown, marching has become
a major political football used to justify sectarian
point scoring and hardline stances.
the marching season begins over Easter, but the
new Parades Commission jumped in the deep end by
banning an Orange protest march from walking along
Portadown's Garvaghy Road in late January.
Commission boss Roger Poole said it was a unanimous
decision. This is an ironic twist as the new Commission
includes two leading Portadown Orangemen
David Burrows and Don MacKay.
Paisley's DUP has also raised political temperatures
maintaining unionists will not accept devolution
of policing and justice powers if it means the involvement
of Sinn Fein in their administration.
new firebrand talk from the Paisley party has further
fuelled the view the Loyal Orders and nationalist
residents should negotiate their own solutions,
telling all shades of political opinion to 'bog
you need is a quiet room with a table, a few chairs
and some refreshments along with a large
dose of common sense and the reality you're supposed
to be grown-up, mature adults not primary
three school brats fighting over who gets to play
in the sandpit.
groups need to be more selective in picking their
spokespeople. In the past, the sight of former republican
prisoners plastered all over the media spouting
off on behalf of Catholic families living along
contentious parade routes has been a red flag to
the Orange and Black bulls.
of convicted terrorists as your front people who
only serve to wind up the Prods, why not have respected
Catholic businessmen, doctors, academics or industrialists,
who will generate confidence and credibility for
legitimate nationalist concerns.
given the paedophile scandals which have rocked
the Catholic Church in recent years, using genuine
priests and untainted clergy to speak for residents
groups such as Father Aidan Troy of the Holy
Cross parish in north Belfast - could also be a
double-edged sword to restore Catholic rank and
file confidence in its clergy.
don't select hotheads like Father Alec Reid and
risk the Orange delegation walking out after being
branded Nazis. The Redemptorist priest landed himself
in very hot water when in an off-guard moment, he
publicly branded unionists as Nazis. Father Reid
was one of two independent clerical selected to
witness the disbanding of Provisional IRA arsenals.
the vast majority of the changing will have to be
done by the Loyal Orders, especially Orangeism.
Whilst around 100,000 band and Order members can
parade peacefully on the Twelfth each year, the
Order lacks the internal discipline to prevent its
protest parades being hijacked by loyalist working
Drumcree debacle has tarnished the image of the
Order globally, particularly during Druncree Four
in 1998 when Catholic brothers Richard (11), Mark
(10) and Jason Quinn (9) were killed in a loyalist
arson attack on their home in Ballymoney, Co Antrim.
Orange chaplains called for the Drumcree protest
to be ended as a mark of respect to the murdered
children their plea was to earn them death
threats from the dissident Loyalist Volunteer Force
parades balls-ups had deteriorated to the sewer-pit
position where respected Protestant clerics were
being threatened with execution by so-called loyalists.
putting senior Orange representatives on the Parades
Commission will not be a solution that will
only infuriate the residents' groups. Face-to-face
talks between the local residents and the local
Orange lodge is the only key to peace.
is no use the Order's ruling body, the Grand Lodge
of Ireland, trying to impose its own solution from
afar. It is only by ordinary people from both sides
on the ground engaging directly with each other
without the pressures of either a Grand Lodge
directive, or a republican political agenda breathing
down their necks which will see a permanent
lancing of the parades boil which has infected the
North with its sectarian poison for a generation.
all, recent progress in Derry between the Orange
Order and the Bogside Residents' Group has come
as a result of face-to-face negotiations
firm proof this direct method works.
needs to aim for the so-called Rossnowlagh Solution
to all its parades. For generations, on the Saturday
before the main Twelfth demonstration, Southern
Orange lodges along with invited Northern guests,
have a mile-long dander along the Donegal coast
to the beach at Rossnowlagh for a family day out.
Co Donegal Orange Lodge works closely with local
residents and the Gardai to ensure a peaceful day
out with no hardline political speeches.
the Whiterock riots in Belfast, the Dunloy confrontations
in north Antrim, and the Drumcree standoff, the
Protestant Marching Orders may soon find more freedom
to parade in the South a state they don't
want to be loyal to; than in the North, a state
they profess to be loyal to.
Orangemen planning to march through Dublin this
month for the Love Ulster rally, maybe the solution
is staring Protestantism in the face find
a series of isolated coastal villages in the South
like Rossnowlagh and move the Twelfth lock, stock
and beer barrel to the Republic.
talks will not ensure a permanent peace to the parade
protests. Internally, the Orange needs to radically
change. It must cease the political speeches at
the Twelfth and return to being a purely religious
institution, focusing on raising moral ethics and
spiritual Biblical standards amongst the increasingly
secular Protestant community.
other problem centres around the election of officers
within the Orange. People can get into positions
for a generations and become wee Protestant Popes
in their own areas, preventing young sensible Protestants
from progressing through the ranks or even joining
the Orders. No Orangeman from Grand Lodge to local
lodge should serve more than three years in a single
given the buck eejit displays at Whiterock, provision
should be made for sensible Protestants to join
the overtly religious Royal Black Institution without
having to first hold the Arch Purple degree in the
Black is regarded as Protestantism's senior Marching
Order and has escaped the parade controversies relatively
unscathed. The Black, too, could introduce a more
Masonic-style membership balloting, where one black
bean during the voting and your application is reviewed
in six months' time.
Loyal Orders, and especially the Orange, need to
urgently implement these changes in 2006, otherwise
a situation could arise where if the North is inflicted
with another series of Whiterock-style rioting,
the Brits will ban the Twelfth altogether and abandon
12th July as a public holiday.
Chancellor Gordon Brown has already launched his
pitch for a new national patriotic holiday like
Independence Day in the United States and Bastille
Day in France.
Brown becomes PM and successfully launches Britain
Pride Day, that's the end of the Twelfth in the
United Kingdom. Southern Ireland may then become
the last bastion of Orange demonstrations on the