|Carrick Hill Memorial Garden|
Ree-diculous, all this brouhaha about the bands marching past St Patrick’s Church on 29 September. Don’t you think? One side says we’ve a perfectly good right to march and anyway we’ve talked to the priest and parishioners, the other side says you haven’t talked to us and we’re the residents. Tweedledum and Tweedledee, eh? Tit for tat and no resolution.
Except it’s nothing of the sort. This is a very old story going back for years: not the marching past the church bit, but who the loyal orders, particularly the Orange Order, are prepared to talk to . Remember Drumcree and the Garvaghy Road? The Orangemen wouldn’t talk to residents because they didn’t like Breandan Mac Cionnaith. Change your leader/spokesman, they told the residents, and we’ll think about it.
Eh? Change your spokesman? Can you think of anything more high-handed? Normally groups choose their own leaders or spokespeople. It’s called representation – a form of democracy. But the loyal orders don’t buy that. Not only will they choose their own leaders, they’ll choose those for the opposing side. In this case they’ve decided that the opposing side’s spokespeople will be the local priest and his parishioners.
I expect there was a time when that kind of proviso washed with the nationalist/republican community, because they felt powerless to do other. That day, however, is dead. Very dead. And know what? It ain’t going to do a Lazarus. So the Orange Order and such other groupings had better get used to the funny notion of nationalists/republicans wanting the same basic – very basic – rights as any other grouping: to decide who speaks for them.
And if that means the OO and its ilk will go all huffy and take their ball and go home, so be it. Speaking personally, I can’t understand why Carrick Hill residents’ spokespersons like Frank Dempsey can say they have no objection in principle to loyal order marches, because I have. Yes, it’d be better if these various orders did their tootling and drumming far away from people who don’t want to hear it. But it would be better still the tootling and drumming and dressing up didn’t occur at all, because, certainly in the case of the Orange Order, it is built on a history and ordinances that are – yes, I know I’ve said it before but the need to say it again and again and again keeps on cropping up – anti-Catholic. What’s more, if I were a unionist, not only would I stay miles away from such organizations, I’d be urging them to pack it in and go home, because with every provocative march and with every refusal to talk to the people involved they’re digging a deeper and deeper hole into which they are plunging, taking unionism with them.