Marching Season has begun.
It is that time of the year …mid-June to mid-August….when Orangemen walk about a lot.
They do this because
1 It is their British, Protestant and Unionist Culture.
2 It annoys Catholics.
3 It is British, Protestant and Unionist Culture to annoy Catholics.
As with any sporting season, we have had some pre-season friendlies, games to show that both teams …Orange marchers and Catholic residents are up to the challenge.
So last nights game in North Belfast did not disappoint fans of either side.
The Orange marchers tested the Parades Commission determinations to the fullest and in the post-match analysis will be working out how breaches will be policed on bigger days in the season…the Twelfth of July for example.
On the residents side…Sinn Fein MLAs Gerry Kelly and Caral Ni Chuilin were on the streets. Both got knocked around a bit by a PSNI (Police Service of Norn Iron) land rover. Sinn Fein are using the video of the footage for propaganda and they seem to have a point.
It will do Gerry…I declare an interest as I class him as a friend….no harm. In Republican circles, he is a hero and even at 60 years of age has upstaged the republican dissidents by getting in the face of the police. Gerry Kelly is a Sinn Fein member of the Policing Board, which oversees the Police.
Likewise Caral who got a few bruises from the same landrover…it will do her no harm either.
The last time I saw Caral who is the Minister for Culture Arts and Leisure was at the launch of the Irish language initiative, Liofa. She was chatting happily with PSNI officers including Asst Chief Constable Judith Gillespie.
Yet it was only the first match in Marching Season. Orangemen got to march. Residents got to protest. And over the course of the two month season, we can expect more of the same. Thats the trouble with Marching Season…DUP and SinnFein joined at the hip and ruling Norn Iron as a one party state (the one party has a Green Wing and an Orange Wing…its a two month long opportunity for DUP and SF to rally the troops and then seamlessly re-engage with their coalition partners before the autumn.
If it sounds like a farce…..its because it IS a farce.