Belfast Telegraph

Monday 24 November 2014

Will they all still love the Orange Order until the Twelfth of Never?

The  'Twelfth of July' Orange parade in  Belfast
The 'Twelfth of July' Orange parade in Belfast
Alan Lewis - Photopress Belfast 13/7/2009Local priest father Gary Donegan watches as the Orange Order parade passes the Ardoyne shopfronts in North Belfast today amidst tight security. he area has been a flashpoint for trouble in recent years but everything passed off peacefully this morning although a bigger protest was planned for this evening's return journey past the same spot. At the last parade, Father Donegan was assaulted by republican youths who tried to attack the oparade and supporters.
Sinn Fein Junior Minister Gerry Kelly (left) and former IRA prisoner Bobby Storey (centre) awatch as an Orange Order parade approaches the Ardoyne shopfronts in North Belfast
An Orange Order parade passes the Ardoyne shopfronts in North Belfast today amidst tight security.
An Orange Order parade passes the Ardoyne shopfronts in North Belfast today amidst tight security.
An Orange Order parade passes the Ardoyne shopfronts in North Belfast today amidst tight security.
A cyclist passes protesters waiting for the arrival of an Orange Order parade to pass the Ardoyne shopfronts in North Belfas
An Orange Order parade passes the Ardoyne shopfronts in North Belfast
Police were confiscationg alcohol from members of the public approaching the city centre during today's annual 'Twelfth of July' Orange parades in North Belfast
Flooding in Belfast at Balmoral Hal rail bridge on Stockmans Lane Belfast. July 12, 2009
Gary Evans, Phillip Dean, Blake Evans, Aaron Arnott, John Bailey, Paul and Mark Simpson
Sarah and Ellie Beresford with William McCullough
Orangemen and bandsmen take part in the annual '12th' parades in Members of the Ulster Defence Volunteers LOL 1981 in Longstone Street.
Orangemen and bandsmen take part in the annual '12th' parades in Members of the Ulster Defence Volunteers LOL 1981 in Longstone Street.
Orangemen and bandsmen take part in the annual '12th' parades in Members Lisburn Fusileers Flute Band in Longstone Street.
The annual '12th' parades in Lisburn town centre
Francis Ferris leads the Ulster Defence Volunteers lodge in Longstone Street.
Amy Morrison, Demi Courtney and Courtney Faulkner
A band member at the main Belfast parade.
An Orange man at the main Belfast parade.
Belfast City Hall
The lead at the main Belfast parade lays wreaths at the cenotaph and have a minutes silence at Belfast City Hall.
The lead at the main Belfast parade lays wreaths at the cenotaph and have a minutes silence at Belfast City Hall.
A feeder parade makes its way past the Arydoyne shops in north Belfast
The Portadown Parade
The bass drummer with Cantril's Glory Accordion Band from Liverpool keeps the beat during the parade through Portadown. Picture by Rick Hewitt. 12/7/09.
Bretheren of LOL 40 on the march through Portadown. Picture by Rick Hewitt. 12/7/09.
Joining in the Twelfth celebrations in Portadown were these three ladies from Bergen, Norway (from left) Miriam Hojklint, Nina Rogde Reynolds and Malin Reynolds. Picture by Rick Hewitt. 12/7/09.
Bretheren of LOL 8 on the march through Portadown.Picture by Rick Hewitt. 12/7/09.
Stepping out smartly, Portadown Ex-Service Mens Lodge LOL 608. Picture by Rick Hewitt. 12/7/09.
The Portadown Parade
A feeder parade makes its way past the Arydoyne shops in north Belfast
A feeder parade makes its way past the Arydoyne shops in north Belfast
A feeder parade makes its way past the Arydoyne shops in north Belfast
A feeder parade makes its way past the Arydoyne shops in north Belfast
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 13th July 2009 - Picture by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye - Orange Order 12th July celebrations and marchs take place in Belfast. A feeder parade makes its way past the Arydoyne shops in north Belfast
A feeder parade makes its way past the Arydoyne shops in north Belfast
A feeder parade makes its way past the Arydoyne shops in north Belfast
The annual Orange Order parade in Rossnowlagh Co Donegal. The parade makes its way down towards the field beside the beach.
Belfast Telegraph TWELFTH OF JULY GALLERIES- 2008
LOL No.3 marching in the annual Twelfth of July parade in Belfast
Happy faces as bandsmen arrive at Shaws Bridge to complete the outward leg of today's Orange Order parade through Belfast
One bandsman giving it his all, marching in the annual Twelfth parade in Belfast
An Orange parade marches through Newry City Centre for the first time in years. More than half a million people took to the streets of Northern Ireland for the annual Twelfth of July celebrations
Jordan Memorial Accordian Band, Carrickfergus marching in the annual Twelfth of July parade in Belfast
The County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast leads the parade along Bedford Street in the annual Twelfth of July parade in Belfast
Drummers of the North Down Defenders marching in the annual Twelfth of July parade in Belfast
There was an extremely high turn out of Scottish bands accompanying the Orange Order parade through Belfast
There was an extremely high turn out of Scottish bands and banners accompanying the Orange Order parade through Belfast
Orange Order parade at Shaws Bridge to complete the outward leg through Belfast
Alan Thompson does a roaring trade at the annual Twelfth of July parade in Belfast
Bandsmen escorting an Orange Lodge, arrive at Shaws Bridge to complete the outward leg of their parade through Belfast.
The McCormick sisters, Lorraine, Karen and Lesley from Belfast wave their flags at the annual twelfth of July parade in Belfast
A catholic woman gives "the fingers" to loyalists who were being bussed past the nationalist Ardoyne shopfronts tonight ahead of the Orange Order parade which was on the return leg of its journey after the lodge and its supporters from the Ligoniel area of North Belfast had taken part in the biggest Orange Order event of the day in Belfast. Windows on some of the buses used to ferry supporters through the flashpoint area, were broken during the short trip through the predominantly Catholic area
A loyalist jeers at a Catholic woman who was giving him "the fingers" as loyalists were being bussed past the nationalist Ardoyne shopfronts tonight ahead of the Orange Order parade which was on the return leg of its journey after the lodge and its supporters from the Ligoniel area of North Belfast had taken part in the biggest Orange Order event of the day in Belfast
Children play around a smaller bonfire lit early on the Eleventh night for them ahead of the main one at Roden Street in South Belfast
The five storey high loyalist bonfire at Coolfin Street on the Donegal Road near Belfast city centre
Firefighters attending the loyalist bonfire at Coolfin Street on the Donegal Road near Belfast city centre early this morning
Firefighters attending the loyalist bonfire at Coolfin Street on the Donegal Road near Belfast city centre early this morning
Almost like a winter wonderland as children play near the loyalist bonfire at Coolfin Street on the Donegal Road close to Belfast city centre early this morning. Fire crews had earlier sprayed foam over several properties close to the five storey high bonfire to try to prevent serious damage being caused by the intense heat
Almost like a winter wonderland after firefighters had sprayed foam over the front of several houses near to the loyalist bonfire at Coolfin Street on the Donegal Road near Belfast city centre. Fire crews had earlier sprayed the foam over properties close to the five storey high structure to try to prevent serious damage being caused by the intense heat

The Orange Order is changing its tune at last.

Whatever controversy or tensions the Twelfth stirs in some corners of Northern Ireland, there is a bigger picture emerging which we cannot ignore. An ultra-conservative organisation steeped in age-old tradition is starting to adjust to the modern world.

‘The sash my father wore’ may still tug many Protestant heart-strings but if the sons of the fathers do not follow in their footsteps, then the Orange Order has a big problem.

No organisation can afford to stand still in the modern world. The churches have found that out to their cost. So also have businesses and institutions in every walk of life which have failed to adjust to today’s demands and to attract a new generation of customers or members.

The Twelfth fortnight signals a nationalist exodus from Northern Ireland but what may be overlooked are the numbers of unionists who find other distractions at home and abroad these days.

The better off they are, the more educated they become, the less younger unionists may think of marching on the Twelfth or having anything to do with the celebrations of King William’s victory, no matter how glorious, pious and immortal their parents and grandparents thought of it.

The Orange Order in celebrating the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 has another battle to fight in 2009 to ensure that its columns of marchers do not dwindle away with time and that its annual parades do not lose spectator appeal. Hence the concept of Orangefest with Belfast city centre shops and stores opening for the first time.

Orangemen in rural counties such as Tyrone and Armagh have pioneered the idea of extending the remit of the Twelfth with a wider array of events.

I think those behind the changes should be commended and the Order should be encouraged to walk down this road in future rather than along some of the more contentious routes it still insists on trodding.

Flying back to Belfast the other day, I was thumbing through the easyJet passenger magazine with its listings of European city destinations. Who would have believed even five years ago that the Twelfth would be included in Belfast’s ‘attractions’? It is this year and I hope the inclusion in the airline’s magazine is a foretaste of more peaceful and pleasurable Julys ahead for visitors and locals alike.

The Orange Order has taken a lot of stick in the media over the years and it is still playing catch-up to the Apprentice Boys of Derry who have forged improved community relations with the Maiden City in recent years in relation to the August parade around the ancient walls.

In contrast, the Orangemen’s bogey remains Drumcree. The Order’s leaders should not allow themselves to be obsessed to the point of intransigence over whether they can cross this bridge or march down that road when there is a much greater challenge staring them in the face — namely to make their organisation fit for purpose in the 21st century.

The Twelfth has the potential to be a great tourist brand which could bring additional benefits to the local economy. In that respect, July 13, 2009 is a test for the Orangemen and the community in general.

After today we may know if the Orange Order has turned a corner for the better. Some people may wish away the Twelfth — or St Patrick’s Day — but that will not happen. What we need are imaginative ways and means of enhancing community enjoyment of these historic dates in our calendar.

The Orangefest is a step in the right direction. We need to leave behind the Julys of confrontation and, if we can, perhaps future Twelfths will be promoted in not just one airline’s travel guide but in many other international tourist brochures.

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