It seems to me that the Eleventh is the New Twelfth.
Forty years ago, we used to sit in a front bedroom of our house in the Upper Springfield Road in West Belfast. After midnight, we had a view across the City……….and we could see the Orange bonfires ablaze. They were in the Donegall Road area.
It was always the case that Orange Bonfires had Catholic religious icons blazing. And of course effigies of the Pope and of course the National Flag of Ireland. We could hear the Lambeg Drums beating but could never really hear the actual Orange songs…just a general noise.
This was always how it was on the night before those good Christian gentlemen in their good suits and bowler hats paraded with oh so much respectability on the Twelfth. And all covered the next morning by “Colonel” Jimmy Hughes at the BBC. Of course occasionally the mob passed by…..usually the women folk…the “Orange Lils” in their Union Jack dresses and carrying the Union Jack brollies……….and singing along to the “Kick The Pope” bands which were often imported from Scotland for the day.
The BBC tried manfully to ignore the worst excesses of Orange bands and followers but the bottom line is that the Orange Order cannot detach itself from its wilder element. In fairness this was Belfast (and with Portadown or Lisburn or Ballymena) this might be the worst kind of Orange-ism and that the nicer Orangemen in County Tyrone and County Fermanagh might be a bit embarrassed by it all.
But when Orangemen talk of Culture…well there is this highly unofficial side of Hatred which is as much part of it all as any Parade, as any Religious Worship at the Field, as any boring speech by the local Orange worthy or any half-baked Loyal Oath to “Her Most Gracious Majesty”.
But I wonder has the Eleventh Night got more hateful. During the week, many nationalist bloggers, including myself went out and about looking at Bonfire sites. These are often on publicly owned space, albeit in “Protestant” areas.
But this year, there has been a growing trend of LetsGetAlongerist bloggers pointing out the bonfires to which they, liberal unionists and the BBC and UTV, all turned a blind eye.
The thing is that its not just Catholics and Republicans and Nationalists who are the targets of sectarian abuse. The Irish Flags are still on the bonfire……..effigies of Gerry Adams hang from gallows, Sinn Fein and SDLP Election posters………and this year posters of Anna Lo, the Alliance Party Euro candidate. And Gay Rainbow Flags. Palestine and Poland. And overt racism on display.
Ms Lo was born in Hong Kong. A poster on a bonfire says “Anna Lo Ate My Dog”. Vicious nasty stuff. Some photographs I will publish later but I want to talk to some people first…need to clarify issues of Taste.
But how is it that the LetsGetAlongerists only get involved now…in 2014? Where was the Alliance Party and their apologists when the victims of abuse were merely Catholic, Irish and Republican.
They abused ME and MINE and you sat on your liberal unionist arses and did nothing.
Then they abused the Gays, Foreigners and your beloved Alliance Party and all of a sudden you wake up to the nastiness of it all. How is that you all failed to realise that the Sectarianism we witnessed for decades was fruit of the same poisonous tree that produces Racism and Homophobia.
Yet curiously the LetsGetAlongerists dismiss Catholic Residents as unreasonable for not agreeing to Orangemen passing thru or close to their homes. Its absurd that Orange followers show such utter hatred for Catholics and then demand the right to parade past their houses a few hours later.
There is a narrative. We are supposed to be in a Post-Conflict situation. We must all celebrate Titanic, Game of Thrones, World Police Games and the Giro d’Italia ….the LIE produced by the Norn Iron Office and the Tourist Board.
Lets get this straight. There can be no facilitating such Hatred.
Unionism is looking for concessions on Parading and it looks to me that they are using the excesses of the Eleventh to get agreement to parade. In other words, turn down the Bonfire Rhetoric and the anti-social behaviour and the Government will respond with concessions.
But really DUP and Sinn Fein are joined at the hip in the Executive. It is a game. They use each other as a bogeyman to get out their core votes…….and stay in the Executive.
Meanwhile normal crimes……are suspended. We talk of Hate Crimes but is anyone going to be arrested for anything bonfire-related last night? A few tokens maybe. Because when an individual puts a brick thru a Nigerian family’s window, it is a hate crime. When thousands whoop with delight at the burning effigies of the Pope or Gerry Adams or an under 14 GAA Club Banner…….or SDLP or Sinn Fein or Anna Lo posters…its not a hate crime…..its CULTURE.
If I burn a single tyre, it breaks environmental law. If I burn hundreds on a bonfire…its CULTURE.
If I walk down Royal Avenue drinking a can of lager, I am breaking the law. If I do it with thousands of others following an Orange Parade…it is CULTURE.
If I urinate in my neighbours garden, it is a crime. If I am answering a call of nature along the Lisburn Road, well that’s….CULTURE.
Yet tonight on BBC and UTV News, there will be reporters in Orange Fields telling us about the carnival atmosphere in Belfast or Markethill and Omagh. Some nice human interest stories as 104 year old Billy McBilly from Broughshane attends yet another parade. And Tommy McTommy from Toronto will have flown from Canada over specially to attend the Belfast parade.
Meanwhile all those Kick The Pope bands all the way from Glasgow will be kept off the TV Screens.
Will there ever come a time when an Orangeman or unionist politician, will be challenged by a BBC or UTV journalist when he mentions the word “CULTURE”.
Certainly the numbers were way way down the previous week in Glasgow compared to days of yore.
The world moves on and maybe with it the trailer park white trash.
Not exactly the best time to be wearing Rangers shirt and baggy shorts.
Most sane people would laugh at you.
Pity, most are a walking advert to vote YES.
Another thoughtful post. But why the quotation marks around the late Colonel Hughes’ rank? He did serve with distinction throughout WWII in the Royal Artillery, and amongst other honours held the Légion d’honneur.
I use the quotation marks to emphasise the point.
I have never seen anyone describe themselves as Private Smith or Lance Corporal Jones….or even for that matter Lietenant Smith or Jones.
The snobbery does seem to begin at Captain rank.
Whatever “Colonel” Hughes did, he didnt do it for me or mine.
So his commission means diddly squat to me.
rather like those old boys at the London Cenotaph with the camel hair coats and the bowlers and brollies are a class above the guys with the berets and the blazers.
There is obviously justification for military rank during an actual war…but clinging on to rank after a war is just “class”.
I daresay in proportional terms, some like Mr Hughes serve with distinction.
Others serve adequately.
Others as useful as Captain Mainwaring in Dads Army.
i have come across a few over five decades. And happily acknowledge that some that I actually met like “Major” R J C Broadhurst were absolute gents.
But if the general rule is that “serving with distinction” is a factor then “Captain”O’Neill, two different Captain “Brookes”, “Major” Chichester Clarke, “Captain ” Willie Long, “Captain” LPS Orr, would need to carry their war records around with them.
I do RESPECT.
But I dont do TOADYING.
And I will respect the service of any person of any rank who has served in the Army of my own nation (Ireland) and I wont disrespect anyone who has served in any other nations army, including those like Britain to which I have absolutely no connexion.
But I generally like my “heroes” to be a bit quiet about it.
Like Private Godfrey.
Incidently I was in Antrim during week….took some pics of constituency offices ….I note that one is DOCTOR William McCrea of DUP.
but its round the corner from the office of Danny Kinahan….who I think COULD describe himself as “Captain”.
And dont start me on the House of “Lords”
Early on in his military career Colonel Hughes commanded an anti-aircraft emplacement in Belfast harbour, providing some degree of protection for all the people of Belfast.
Your reference to class sent me scurrying for Debrett’s, which once again proves invaluable. Rank to be retained on retirement seems to be major and above, and the equivalent in the other armed forces, except in the case of cavalry officers who may retain also captain. Field Marshals never retire.
I am largely with you on many of these matters today, retention of rank on retirement is dying out in most of society. But it was the norm seventy years ago, and I would be minded to give it due respect as custom and practice then.
I am reminded of Patrick Campbell, the late 3rd Baron Glenavy, who headed home from London to Dublin in 1939 and joined the Irish Navy. He was employed on Port Control duties in Dublin, and joked that one didn’t know what suffering was without experiencing being stuck as the only Protestant on board a tug boat with 32 Catholic sailors. Tragically he lost a sister in the London blitz, and later expressed significant regret that he had not taken a more active part in the war.
The biggest protection to the people of Belfast during World War Two was that Ireland was neutral.
In Dublin today, Mayor Nichola Mallon presented medals to families of the Dublin Fire service who rushed north under orders from the “neutral” Irish Government to save the lives of Irish citizens.
I dont suppose that Herr Hitler feared the Irish Army but I daresay he preferred Ireland out of the war….the seaports etc.
Therefore De Valera did at least as much for Belfast as “Colonel” Hughes….not to mention all those firewatchers on Mackies roof.
Of course today was the National Day of Commemoration for those Irish people who fought in all wars, including of course the peacekeepers in the United Nations, and foreign armies such as Britain and USA.
Delighted The Lord Mayor was making that important and overdue presentation today. She had a very hard act to follow but is making her own mark very well. I suspect that neutral Ireland, or at least many within the administration, did more than is yet fully acknowledged to help the Allied cause in WWII, and of course Irish forces have made impressive contributions in sometimes very dangerous circumstances on UN peace keeping missions. Many young Irish folk also serve in UK forces, and some even in the French Foreign Legion. I wish them all well, and a safe return home.
Of course theres a long tradition of Irish people fighting for foreign nations….FitzjamesHorse, the French Cavalry Regiment obviously springs to mind.
But much as I admire the Wild Geese, it is hardly representative of the ethos of the Nation of Ireland.
The young men and women from Ireland serving in the United Nations are living the ethos of the Irish Nation.
Many of the conflicts in which lives were lost are part of the decolonisation process bforced on Imperialists (Britain in Cyprus and Belgium in DRC Congo) by the Americans after they won the Second World War.
Ireland is of course accepted by people in having an understanding of colonialism.
Might also point out that there are many more young Irish people from the Six Counties serving in the Irish Defence Forces than there are Irish citizens in the British Army.
Indeed my Daughter in Laws brother returned from Lebanon at the end of May.
An Irishman joining the French Foreign Legion or the British Army is not acting in accord with my ethos.
There are many young men from North London who join the Israeli Army for a period of service.
There are many young men from West Midlands who are fighting with ISIL in Iraq and Syria. If I was British, I would hardly wish them well.
I’m more curious if the report of the chap from Derry going off to fight in Iraq was true.
Id forgotten about him.
It is surely possible to wish individuals well, and that they should be safe, without necessarily endorsing the cause their political masters deploy them on. Would that all the young men of and in Ireland been safe and returned home unharmed during the troubles which took up so much of our lives, and those of earlier decades and centuries. That was not to be.
Looking forward, and reflecting again on your original post, the immediate political theme seems to be one of seeking mutual tolerance and respect. The Orangeman yesterday who doffed his bowler hat to, and exchanged a smile of recognition with, the Priest standing outside St Patrick’s Donegall Street made a fair start. Further ahead I hope for more than mutual tolerance and respect, but it would be a great start. It does need a fierce amount of work and focused commitment.
I think yesterday was far too calculated.
The Orangemen got the hatred out of their system on the Eleventh Night and played the Good Guys yesterday.
A better Ireland is a society when the Orange Order is confined to the dustbin of History…like the KKK.
Finding a way to facilitate them is not a sign of sophistication.
Picture of Ballycraigy here: https://www.facebook.com/AntrimAgainstHate?hc_location=timeline
fitzjameshorse. You have some cheek talking about political abuse. You regularly abused a true Irish Patriot, Gerry McGeough, and by extension his wife and family with your pro-unionist smear and libelous attacks against him during the nightmare that he and his family were being put through following his arrest at a count center in 2007. I didn’t see much complaint from you throughout McGeough’s ordeal and all the violations of civil and human rights abuses he was subjected to before and after Diplock Court and Maghaberry. On the contrary, you joined in the mockery of a brave Irish Patriot. Don’t be a hypocrite, FJH, spare us all your self-righteous claptrap and hang your cowardly head in shame.