Colin Lindsay murder: Build-up to climax of marching season all too often tarnished by a darker side
While many within working-class loyalist communities have been attempting to positively reshape the days and nights leading up to the Twelfth, last night's murder of a UDA veteran is a reminder of the darker side of that build-up to Ulster's marching season climax.
In the months and weeks before the Twelfth, there was always fear and tension among Belfast's Catholics, especially those that were in a minority in predominantly Protestant districts.
I recall as a boy that you were always especially on your guard in the last few weeks of June and early July on the upper Ormeau while going training at the local soccer club, attending the summer school or simply visiting cousins who lived up there. There was an expectation that the "blood was up" as it was Fenian-hunting season - young Protestants you normally played with suddenly disappeared down to the bonfire and you didn't see them again until close to August.
On one Eleventh Night a friend of mine who lived close to the Ormeau Bakery remembered looking out onto an entry near Haywood Avenue and noticed a group of men bunched around what appeared to be a human figure on the ground.
In fact, it turned out that the local lads were sticking the boot into an effigy of the Pope they were later planning to haul onto the bonfire down near Annadale Flats, the 'pontiff's' head in fact nothing more than one of those plastic orange light covers they had 'liberated' from a Zebra crossing.
The irony amid all this fear and loathing was that at times it could be equally dangerous to be a member or be aligned to a loyalist paramilitary grouping, given the propensity for drink and violence in the days before the big day.
At least two UDA members met their deaths inside the now defunct Kimberley Inn not far from where the 'Pope' once got kicked up and down the entry.
Their killers were other UDA members who they had crossed - alcohol of course playing a major part in these fatal assaults.