THE CARNIVAL IS OVER.
On Monday the 17th of April, a couple of days past the first anniversary of UDA murder victim Teresa Clinton, nationalist people of Belfast congregated in the Lower Ormeau area. They came in response to an appeal for assistance made by the Lower Ormeau Concerned Community who remained deeply apprehensive about orange marchers trampling through their community.
As a result the protest at the Ormeau Bridge led to the march being rerouted with the minimum of fuss. The nationalist protestors stood quietly and with great dignity while the Orangemen waved fists and union flags in a paroxysm of fury. Twenty yards into the new route the orange marchers boarded a bus to take them to their destination, demonstrating that marching itself was not their intention and that they would rather go out of their way just to be provocative and triumphalist.
They are completely unable to accept that the days are gone when their orange state could tell them that they could march where they wished and then proceed to ensure that they did precisely that.
The RUC later applauded the Apprentice Boys for heeding their advice and 'voluntarily' agreeing to reroute to avoid serious public disorder. The spuriousness of the RUC claim was demonstrated later in the day when the returning bigots attempted to come up the Lower Ormeau Road and had to be blocked by the RUC themselves.
In an address to the nationalists standing in the rain, Gerard Rice a spokesperson for LOCC thanked all who turned up, one of whom braved the elements in a wheel chair. Her brother had been murdered in the bookies attack. Rice said that it was a victory for common sense and should have been won three years ago. Unfortunately, common sense is not all that common otherwise the Orangemen too would have some. They are determined to come back down next Sunday. Nationalist are even more determined that they shall not succeed.
Prior to the protest action at the Ormeau Bridge LOCC had twice attempted to solve the dispute through dialogue with the Orange Order. But despite protestations of good faith from the latter LOCC were given the runaround.
Until such times as the state makes it clear to the bigots that they cannot parade through nationalist areas, the type of community mobilization witnessed on the Ormeau Road yesterday will remain a feature of this unresolved conflict. Ultimately the forces of peace and the future will triumph over those of sectarianism and the past.
Somewhat ironically. the orange parade on the Springfield Road yesterday marched to the tune of 'The Carnival is Over'. The carnival of reaction so vividly predicted by James Connolly is coming to an end. And no one will ask for an encore.
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