Jude Collins

Monday, 12 July 2010

"It's absolutely unbelievable" - too right, Missus

 "It's absolutely unbelievable what happens here over the Twelfth period".  You might think those were the words of an indignant nationalist or Catholic,  fed up to the back teeth with the 3,000+ Orange marches that are held here every year, not to mention the bonfires and drinking and tricolour-burning that form a backdrop to all this. But that's not the source. The words were those of a unionist woman ringing into The Stephen Nolan Show this morning,  angrily demanding to know why the British army wasn't brought in last night to protect the unionist people of Belfast who were celebrating their heritage?

The BBC reports that last night  a  car was set on fire and sent trundling towards police lines,  a shotgun discharged injuring three police officers and that in toto there were twenty-seven police officers injured.  Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly was on the Nolan Show condemning the rioters, as was Ruth Patterson of the DUP. What no one confronted head-on was the backdrop to these clashes.  If every year you have around nine months of marching,  culminating in the lighting of giant bonfires, hundreds of marches by thousands of flag-waving unionists, fiery speeches condemning nationalism, republicanism and Catholicism - if you have all that, is it any wonder that some young republicans/nationalists/Catholics lose the run of themselves?

The Orange Order is, in its history and its constitution, an anti-Catholic organisation. That's why it was founded, that's why it continues to exist, that's why, for example,  it opposes the visit to Britain of Pope Benedict next September. We could of course pretend it's not anti-Catholic, that it's just a happy family outing one day a year, that it's an Orangefest which all can enjoy. We could, but it'd be childish to do so.  Closing our eyes won't make the monster go away or turn into a cuddly Orange rabbit.


  1. THERE are fears of renewed violence at Broadway roundabout after a teenager who was shot and seriously wounded by a plastic bullet was mocked in a sickening message on a loyalist bonfire.

    During last week’s disturbances, two Catholic teenagers were hospitalised after being shot by the PSNI. One has reportedly had a testicle removed. The bonfire in the Village heartlessly mocks the recovering teenager with placards containing his name, the ward where he was treated at the City Hospital (he has since been discharged) as well as jibes about his injuries.

    The bonfire also features a four-lettered taunt of the IBA, an anti-social gang from St James’, and is crowned with a UVF flag. The provocative material was added to the bonfire just days after the Village community opted out of Belfast City Council’s Bonfire Management Programme.

    The material flies in the face of the Programme’s checklist, which prohibits paramilitary flags and offensive or contentious items.

    The Council, who worked with Village residents in the past to help them access the Peace III funding for bonfires, confirmed the area opted out of the Programme just a matter of days ago.

    “We were informed by community representatives last Tuesday that they no longer wish to be part of the Bonfire Management Programme,” said a Council spokeswoman.  

    “We are always willing to engage with communities where possible.” 

    Speaking last night, Sinn Féin Councillor for the St James’ area, Breige Brownlee, said the material merely stokes sectarian tensions between the districts.

    “The references to the anti-social gang, the IBA, and particularly to the plastic bullet victim are unhelpful,” she said. “This is the kind of action that can ignite the trouble that we are working hard to quell.

    “The child in question could have lost his life, certainly he has been maimed for life, but we are lucky he wasn’t killed. This in-your-face type of behaviour is not going to have much effect on easing tensions between the communities.

    “The area has been quiet since last Sunday and the situation requires sensitivity. We need to share space and recognise each other’s differences, but we must be sensitive about it. With that in mind local residents and the Safer Neighbourhood Project will be out until the early hours trying to ensure there is no trouble.”

    Article taken from Belfast Media

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