Issue 2 - 2024 200dpi

16 July 2009 Edition

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'Twelfth' trouble poses challenge for Orange Order

ONCE again, 12 July in the North has been marked by intimidation, sectarianism and violence.
In recent years, the Orange Order has attempted to rebrand its Twelfth parades as ‘Orangefest’. It has sought significant public monies to assist with this. However, out of thousands of Orange parades a very small number are controversial and risk bringing the sort of street disturbances and disruption to community life that were witnessed in Ardoyne and other parts of the North on Monday night.
Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness flagged this issue up at the Wolfe Tone Commemoration in Bodenstown just a few of weeks ago and appealed to the leadership of the Orange Order to finally stand up and tackle this issue.
There is no loss of face in the Orange Order making their contribution to the Peace Process by voluntarily rerouting five or six parades. Indeed, it would be welcomed as a sign of mature leadership. However, the leadership of the Orange Order has so far failed to meet this challenge.
The violence of Monday night was wrong and was manipulated and orchestrated by so-called ‘dissident republican’ factions. But these groups were exploiting a situation that was created by the Orange Order insisting on marching through Catholic districts where they are not wanted.
If the Orange Order is serious about wanting nationalist and republican political leaders to respect them, then they need to respect the nationalist community and respect the wishes of the vast majority of people to live in peace free from sectarian harassment.
To date, the leadership of the Orange Order has refused to meet with Sinn Féin, the party most nationalists actually vote for. What message does that send out about respecting the nationalist community? The Orange Order now needs to sit down face-to- face with Sinn Féin.
If the Orange Order is serious about wanting to have a cultural festival then it needs to act to remove the potential for trouble from the equation. Until they do, nationalists will remain sceptical of its intentions.

An Phoblacht
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