Orangemen p-p-pick penguins to make a point this Christmas
A loyalist campaign to be allowed to parade past the Ardoyne shops in Belfast has attracted some unexpected new recruits.
Christmas is traditionally the season of goodwill, but for three Orange lodges in the city which have staged a year-an-a-half long protest over not being allowed to march along the Crumlin Road, it is another opportunity to make their point.
Yesterday the Orange Order launched a new range of Christmas cards in which cartoon penguins have joined the cause.
It is now more than 16 months since the Parades Commission ruled that the three lodges and their accompanying bands could not finish their return route following the July 12 parade from Ligoniel Orange hall.
The route passes Ardoyne shops and is opposed by nationalist residents. The lodges have taken part in a protest camp at the corner of Twaddell Avenue since the July 2013 ruling, holding nightly gatherings.
Now supporters will be able to send Christmas cards with the theme of their protest.
The Orange Order described the card range as "light-hearted - whilst portraying a serious message".
They depict penguins wearing Orange collarettes at police lines accompanied with a 'Let Them Home' banner, as Santa with his sleigh and reindeers pass overhead.
In another, penguins from the 'Saint Nicholas Benevolence LOL 2014' watch on as a satirical version of the headquarters of the Parades Commission, dubbed 'Veto House', slides over a cliff edge.
There are also other cards in the range of a more conventional nature, which include a Williamite drummer boy and a red postbox.
Dr David Hume, Grand Lodge director of dervices, said he expected a "flurry" of orders, revealing similar cards last year sold out.
"The 'protest penguins', you might say, have become something of an institution in their own right and they clearly have a big following within the Orange institution," he said.
"It would be good if we could translate some seasonal goodwill to allowing recognition of the Orange tradition through accepting the parade back to Ligoniel.
"After all, it would only take a few minutes of tolerance."
Story so far
A protest camp over a Parades Commission decision to bar an Orange lodge from walking along a section of the Crumlin Road has been running for 16 months. Three Ligoniel based lodges argue they have been prevented from returning home by being blocked from passing the Ardoyne shops section of the road since July 2013.
The protest camp on Twaddell Avenue was set up in support.