Yet, we feel that we can’t ban these marches – that we can’t ban the organisation – because to do this would be illiberal, it wouldn’t be tolerant. Rubbish! If the Orange Order insisted on marching through the more affluent streets of Glasgow, insisting that they too were “the Queen’s highway,” they would have been banned decades ago. If their songs and their open hostility were directed against Jews or people of colour instead of Catholics, the government would have no option but to ban the organisation. So, why is this not the case when they are marching down working-class streets?
As David Cameron stood in Westminster pretending to apologise for the actions of British soldiers in Derry in 1972 he kept his lips tightly sealed about Ballymurphy. Few, even in Ireland, outside the Republican movement have ever heard of what happened from 9-11 August 1971 in the Belfast housing estate of Ballymurphy. I’ve been to Ballymurphy. My friend, Fr. Paddy McCafferty, is the parish priest at Corpus Christi parish on the estate, and I had never heard of what the British Army did there. The Channel 4 documentary the other night was an eye-opener.
Portadown’s Orangemen now no longer march from the Drumcree church and so the insistence on parading down the nationalist Garvaghy Road has ended. This parade made its way down “Protestant streets” – a reminder of the social segregation of Northern Ireland today – where union and loyalist flags were waving in the breeze.
Until the Scottish independence campaign all of this has remained alien to my experience of Ireland and Scotland. Now I hear and say this word “unionism” every day. As a concept and as an identity it has become more real to me.
Had I known what I later came to know of this quiet saint then I would have asked him to explain peace to me, and I would have memorised and inwardly digested each of his words. All that I have come to know of peace is that it is never passive, and it never happens by accident.
In the north of Ireland it is silly season again. April 18 this year marks the three-hundredth-and twenty-sixth anniversary of the beginning of the siege of Derry, and the Apprentice Boys of that city are out in force marking their territory and celebrating a victory in which they had no part. In April 1689, more … Continue reading Our Phoney War beneath the Peace Process
Sailing here from Belfast the other day was a right pain in the backside. The sailing was fine; even though it is winter the water was only a little rocky and the few hours at sea were grand. It was arriving in Loch Ryan that was the nuisance. There had been heavy rain in the … Continue reading Fare Weal Tae Ayrshire’s Shore