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.