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?
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.
We are being led to believe that an otherwise innocent and somewhat naïve British state is doing a deal with the devil that is the Ulster loyalist DUP. The truth is that this is a whitewash of Britain’s role in Ireland. It is another lie.
England and the entire British political establishment are in for a hell of a shock when they realise just who these “nutters on the backbenches” are. The DUP is the often hilarious hard core of political loyalist, sectarian Ulster unionism in the conflict zone that is Northern Ireland – bearing in mind that the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, now in tatters, is only a ceasefire.
It is perfectly acceptable for Orangism to accommodate itself to independence. Interestingly this is already more than a future possibility – as is apparent with the presence of thriving Orange Lodges and loyalist communities in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and in the northern counties of the Irish Republic.
By voting to leave the EU and by insisting that the people of Northern Ireland leave with “Britain” regardless of their needs and interests, London has shown its true contempt for its loyal citizens in Belfast.
From the moment the Brexit referendum result was announced there has been a phenomenal demand in the province for Irish passports – a sign of at least a pragmatic willingness to bury the hatchet.
Flags – as a signifier of identity – are important to a certain segment of the northern population, and have become increasing so the more the gun has been removed from northern politics. By ‘a certain segment of the northern population’ I do not mean Loyalists or Nationalists.