Jude Collins

Friday, 26 July 2013

Sauce all round or no sauce at all

When I first heard that a commemorative parade/march was to be held in Castlederg for two IRA volunteers who were killed while transporting a bomb in 1975,  I thought it was a bad idea. Marching in general I find faintly absurd: if you want to honour someone or something, is it not possible to do so from a stationary position? Why the need to do it on the move?

Jeffrey Donaldson it seems agrees with me (not that he knows/cares what I think - it’s purely coincidence): he says Castlederg is still living with the legacy of the Troubles. “It was the location of a very high number of IRA atrocities over the years, and that legacy lives on”.

It seems difficult to dissent from that statement; like many other places in the north, the wounds of loss are still far from healed in Castlederg and environs.  Then I read what Sinn Féin MLA Declan McAleer had to say. He claimed the parade would come from a nationalist area of the town and go through the shared space of the Diamond. Then he added “In Castlederg there are almost 20 parades from the broad unionist community every year, many of which go through the town  centre, and none of which have been objected to by nationalists”.

That for me clinched the argument and should be at the centre of any dispute over parades. As I say, I’d be in favour of banning all marches of any kind: do it on the spot or not at all.  But if parades/marches must happen, then there needs to be balance. And for Jeffrey Donaldson or anyone else to object to a republican commemorative march while supporting some 20 unionist marches in the same place is  lacking in logic, let alone parity or balance. 

Of course you’ll have noted Jeffrey’s term ‘atrocities’. And the BBC habitually refers to any IRA killings as ‘murder’,  while rarely describing killings by the forces of the state as ‘murder’.  But what do the 3,000 + marches here every year commemorate? A battle in which some 1500 men were killed. Do those killings become legitimate because they occurred a long time ago? Or is it that the 1500 deserved to die? Or was God not on their side? Does time dim the picture of carnage?

Orange banners habitually honour prominent warlike figures - those who led others into battle, who encouraged the slaughter of one set of human beings by another. In my book, the rightness or wrongness of an act doesn’t change because a long time has passed. So far from being in favour of banning the IRA commemoration in Castlederg, it seems to me the local republicans would be justified in holding another 19 similar marches. 

It’s that old key question that so many unionists (and maybe some republicans) like to duck: How would we feel if they did to us what we’re doing to them? In this case, if the Orange goose gets its plentiful supply of sauce, it's unreasonable that a spoonful of the same sauce should be denied to the republican gander.


  1. But two wrongs don't make a right.

  2. When you were down in Aghyaran for the funeral,were there any comments on the forthcoming parade/march?

  3. I wonder how many of the 20 parades from the broad unionist community commemorate individuals who died carrying a bomb in their car!

  4. Jude
    It's a bad idea. Commemorations like this of events in living memory need to be kept within the relevant part of the community.
    Is there no notion of sensitivity at all in this harsh version of republicanism?
    The fact that loyalists are capable of the same insensitivity is no excuse at all.

  5. As Jude says, it's one nationalist district to another via the town centre. I live in Newry, there's several Order marches in our town centre every year. I don't mind too much as it's their town too, so long as no residents have to play host to an offensive march.

    Republicans are entitled to honour and remember their dead. Did those men Unionists allowed to march through Belfast after a tour in Afghanistan not murder anyone ? Very poor soldiers if they didn't...

  6. One needs to understand the mindset of the loyalist/Unionist people of Castlederg. A town that at one time would have been almost 50 - 50 Nationalist/Unionist but as of the most recent census it is now 63% Nationalist. Loyalists still think that Castlederg is their town and no fenian parade will come into the town centre of it, just like the candle lit vigils for the Hungerstrikers in 1981 and the Republican parade for the release of political prisoners was banned from doing in the mid 1990s by the RUC.

    The Tyrone Fleadh was recently held in the town and wby all accounts was a great success despite loyalists erecting union flags around the town centre two days befor the official opening which are still flying and more, incredibly an Ulster Unionist councillor objected to the fleadh parade taking place in the town centre as it passed by the cenotaph.

    At one time too, the larger loyalist band parades were forced through the Nationalist 'top of the town' area which often resulted in major aggro but they are no longer allowed to enter that part of the town, although on certain days a small contingent do get to parade this route, the twelfth morning and evening and on the anniversary of the Sommewith no objections from Nationalists.

    It is worth pointing out too that there were seventeen loyalist/orange parades deemed sensitive by the parades commission this year alone so far with more to come, all passed, and will pass through and around the diamond/town centre of Castlederg.

    On remeberance Sunday in Castlederg wreaths are laid in memory of the British armed forces including the UDR and also wreaths to the RUC. There were three Nationalists murdered in Castlederg at the hands of Loyalists with very strong evidence of collusion with state forces but there's no concern for the families of those victims when loyalists are parading and paying tribute to the UDR and other regiments of the british army.

    The Tyrone Volunteers day is a dignified and respectful commemoration of those Republicans who gave their lives in the struggle for Irish freedom,it comes to Castlederg on the weekend of the anniversary of two young IRA volunteers from Castlederg who died when the bomb they were transporting exploded prematurely and on Sunday 11 August the Republican people from Ccastlederg will demand equal access to their own town centre as loyalists do week in week out throughout the summer.

    The Nationalist/Republican community in Castlederg got off their kness a long time ago, we intend to stay off them.

  7. p.s take the time to enter 'Castlederg' into the Parades commisssion search engine to see what the majority Nationalist community in the town have to tolerate every year.

  8. Anon 10:08 - none. Which can be interpreted whatever way you choose.And no doubt will be.
    Anon 9:54 - Correct, two wrongs don't make a right - but the second 'wrong' might sensitize the first 'wrong' re its multiple,annual actions.
    Anon 10:33 - Any parade that has a banner of King William (to take one example) honours a man involved in (at least) 1500 deaths.

  9. On the day when the Parades Commission have barred Republicans from entering Castlederg town centre, it has given a green light to two loyalist parades in Castlederg on the day prior to the Republican parade. Both of these have full access to the town centre and one has permission to parade unrestricted through the Nationalist top of the town area!Is it 1969?