Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 2 August 2015

From relaxed spectators of City Hall, to a sea of drunk teens and sectarian singing

Alex Kane follows the Twelfth parade in Belfast to The Field for the first time, and finds it a day out with disquieting undercurrents

Published 14/07/2014 | 10:00

North Down First Flute band in action
North Down First Flute band in action

It's 10.30am on Saturday - The Twelfth - and I'm at the gates of Belfast City Hall.

It's curiously quiet. People are standing or sitting on foldaway chairs along the pavements: not as thronged as I would have expected it to be, yet there's an air of relaxation that I didn't expect either.

There are children everywhere, many of them in prams and nearly all of them dressed in variations of red, white and blue.

Whole families are there, standing in the very places where earlier generations of their family have stood. They make space for children to squeeze through or for older people to sit – even when they don't know them.

There's nothing threatening about any of this, which probably explains why there are lots of tourists snapping away.

Yet when you talk to the people you realise that the relaxation masks a sense that their identity is under threat: "We have to let Sinn Fein see that this is our city"; "These pavements should be packed with our people standing up for their British rights,"; "We have to be here because our leaders are letting us down".

Ten minutes later and the first bands and lodges (booted, suited, smart and ready for the long haul) are rounding the corner from Royal Avenue to make their way past us and upwards into Bedford Street.

The people on the pavements start to dance – that strange dance that can only be done to the beat of a drum.

Behind me the band followers start to appear, mostly teenage girls (very short skirts or hot pants seem to be the preferred style) wrapped in Union flags and caked in make-up.

A few tourists, having watched me writing notes, come up to chat. They don't get this. They don't understand why the bands seem to play the same tunes over and over again, or why so many of the uniforms have a military look to them.

North Down Twelfth demonstration in Newtownards.  Amy and Charlie Que with Molly Jupp from Holywood. Pic Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye
North Down Twelfth demonstration in Newtownards. Amy and Charlie Que with Molly Jupp from Holywood. Pic Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye
Orange Order parades pictured marching through Belfast on July 12, 2014. Photo: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Allen Ford from Nevada, USA, pictured during the Twelfth of July demonstration in Limavady which is one of the Orange Orders flagship parades. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 12.07.14
Roses Lane Ends Temperance Flute Band pictured leading the praise during the platform proceedings at the Twelfth demonstration at Ballinderry.
Georgina Davis pictured with her brother Christopher and her father Clark (members of Ballymacash LOL No 317) at Lisburn Orange Hall as brethren from Lisburn District LOL No 6 get ready to leave for the twelfth demonstration at Ballinderry.
Adele Bogle and Michelle Price get a selfie with the First Minister Peter Robinson at the twelfth demonstration at Ballinderry.
Caitlin Adams, Hailey Adams and Jessica Harper pictured at the twelfth demonstration at Ballinderry.
Wor Bro Norman Bell (Worshipful District Master of Ballinderry District LOL No 3) pictured with Bro Paul McCullough (Worshipful Master) and members of Ballinderry Black Reds LOL No 148 pictured prior to leaving Ballinderry War Memorial Hall for the twelfth demonstration at Ballinderry.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th July 2014 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye North Down Twelfth demonstration in Newtownards. North Down First Flute
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th July 2014 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye North Down Twelfth demonstration in Newtownards. Claire Thompson
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th July 2014 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye North Down Twelfth demonstration in Newtownards. Kenzie and Kyla Richard with Bethany McMillan fro Newtownards
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th July 2014 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye North Down Twelfth demonstration in Newtownards.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th July 2014 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye North Down Twelfth demonstration in Newtownards. LOL 1758
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th July 2014 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye North Down Twelfth demonstration in Newtownards. LOL 1592
Ballinderry District LOL No 3 colour party pictured prior to leaving Ballinderry War Memorial Hall for the twelfth demonstration at Ballinderry. L to R: Bros - Alan Barnes, Stephen Farr, Graham McDonald, Raymond Thompson and Neil Gilmore.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th July 2014 - Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th July 2014 - Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. Gerald Solinas speaks to the PSNI at this evenings 12th July return parade at Twaddell Avenue in Ardoyne north Belfast
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th July 2014 - Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. Gerald Solinas, left, and James Small pictured at Camp Twaddell at Ardoyne in North Belfast with other protestors. Tens of thousands of Orangemen and women are taking part in 12 July celebrations across Northern Ireland. The 12 July is traditionally the biggest day in the Protestant marching season - running from April to August - and 17 parades are due to take place. They mark King William III's victory over Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th July 2014 - Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. Christian peace campaigners pictured at this evenings 12th July return parade at Twaddell Avenue in Ardoyne north Belfast There was a heavy police presence in the Ardoyne area. No resident protest groups held demonstrations. It comes after the Parades Commission ruled that the outward parade could proceed, however the evening return leg past the interface has been banned.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th July 2014 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye North Down Twelfth demonstration in Newtownards. Ulsters Pride WLOL 110: Effie Butler, Jean Rodgers, Marion White and Margaret Jackson
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th July 2014 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye North Down Twelfth demonstration in Newtownards.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th July 2014 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye North Down Twelfth demonstration in Newtownards.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th July 2014 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye North Down Twelfth demonstration in Newtownards. LOL 164
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th July 2014 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye North Down Twelfth demonstration in Newtownards. Courtney Palmer - Ballyhalbert Flute Band
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th July 2014 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye North Down Twelfth demonstration in Newtownards.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th July 2014 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye North Down Twelfth demonstration in Newtownards. WLOL 110
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th July 2014 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye North Down Twelfth demonstration in Newtownards.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th July 2014 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye North Down Twelfth demonstration in Newtownards.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th July 2014 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye North Down Twelfth demonstration in Newtownards. Upper Ards District 11Laura Gorman of Donaghadee
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 12th July 2017 Members and supporters of the Orange Order pictured at the end of the parade at Barnetts Demesne in Belfast. Picture by Stephen Hamilton /Presseye.com
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 12th July 2017 Members and supporters of the Orange Order pictured at the end of the parade at Barnetts Demesne in Belfast. Picture by Stephen Hamilton /Presseye.com
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 12th July 2017 Members and supporters of the Orange Order pictured at the end of the parade at Barnetts Demesne in Belfast. Picture by Stephen Hamilton /Presseye.com
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 12th July 2017 Members and supporters of the Orange Order pictured at the end of the parade at Barnetts Demesne in Belfast. Picture by Stephen Hamilton /Presseye.com
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 12th July 2017 Dempsey Courtney Ballentine pictured with Mum Lynn and Sister Jody at Barnetts Demesne in Belfast. Picture by Stephen Hamilton /Presseye.com
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 12th July 2017 Members and supporters of the Orange Order pictured at the end of the parade at Barnetts Demesne in Belfast. Picture by Stephen Hamilton /Presseye.com
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 12th July 2017 Members and supporters of the Orange Order pictured at the end of the parade at Barnetts Demesne in Belfast. Picture by Stephen Hamilton /Presseye.com
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 12th July 2017 Members and supporters of the Orange Order pictured at the end of the parade at Barnetts Demesne in Belfast. Picture by Stephen Hamilton /Presseye.com
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 12th July 2017 Orange Brethren from Sandy Row arrive at the field first aat Barnetts Demesne in Belfast. Picture by Stephen Hamilton /Presseye.com
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 12th July 2017 Members and supporters of the Orange Order pictured at the end of the parade at Barnetts Demesne in Belfast. Picture by Stephen Hamilton /Presseye.com
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 12th July 2017 Members and supporters of the Orange Order pictured at the end of the parade at Barnetts Demesne in Belfast. Picture by Stephen Hamilton /Presseye.com
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 12th July 2017 Members and supporters of the Orange Order pictured at the end of the parade at Barnetts Demesne in Belfast. Picture by Stephen Hamilton /Presseye.com
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 12th July 2017 Members and supporters of the Orange Order pictured at the end of the parade at Barnetts Demesne in Belfast. Picture by Stephen Hamilton /Presseye.com
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 12th July 2017 Members and supporters of the Orange Order pictured at the end of the parade at Barnetts Demesne in Belfast. Picture by Stephen Hamilton /Presseye.com
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 12th July 2017 Members and supporters of the Orange Order pictured at the end of the parade at Barnetts Demesne in Belfast. Picture by Stephen Hamilton /Presseye.com
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 12th July 2017 Members and supporters of the Orange Order pictured at the end of the parade at Barnetts Demesne in Belfast. Picture by Stephen Hamilton /Presseye.com
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 12th July 2017 Cat Thompson and Patricia Doherty from Belfast Members pictured at the end of the parade at Barnetts Demesne in Belfast. Picture by Stephen Hamilton /Presseye.com
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 12th July 2017 Junior Minister Jonathan Bell pictured at the end of the parade at Barnetts Demesne in Belfast. Picture by Stephen Hamilton /Presseye.com
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 12th July 2017 Members and supporters of the Orange Order pictured at the end of the parade at Barnetts Demesne in Belfast. Picture by Stephen Hamilton /Presseye.com
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 12th July 2017 Arthur Campbell and David and Eric Hay pictured at Barnetts Demesne in Belfast. Picture by Stephen Hamilton /Presseye.com
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 12th July 2017 MLA Peter Weir pictured at Barnetts Demesne in Belfast. Picture by Stephen Hamilton /Presseye.com
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 12th July 2017 Members and supporters of the Orange Order pictured at the end of the parade at Barnetts Demesne in Belfast. Picture by Stephen Hamilton /Presseye.com
12/07/2014: Crowds line the streets of Belfast city centre to watch the annual twelfth of July orange parades. Photograph: Stephen Kilkenny/Photocall Ireland
12/07/2014: Crowds line the streets of Belfast city centre to watch the annual twelfth of July orange parades. Photograph: Stephen Kilkenny/Photocall Ireland
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th July 2014 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye North Down Twelfth demonstration in Newtownards. Jimmy Lee - North Down First Flute
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th July 2014 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye North Down Twelfth demonstration in Newtownards. Kenzie and Kyla Richard with Bethany McMillan fro Newtownards
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th July 2014 - Picture by Darren Kidd / Press Eye North Down Twelfth demonstration in Newtownards. George Smyth LOL1919
Orange parades in Belfast on July 12, 2014. Photo: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Orange parades in Belfast on July 12, 2014. Photo: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Nationalist protesters outside St Patrick's Church as Bands and Orangemen take part during the 12th of July celebrations in Belfast. Photo: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Orange parades in Belfast on July 12, 2014. Photo: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Nationalist protesters outside St Patrick's Church as Bands and Orangemen take part during the 12th of July celebrations in Belfast. Photo: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Orange parades in Belfast on July 12, 2014. Photo: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Orange parades in Belfast on July 12, 2014. Photo: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 12: Orangemen march past Ardoyne this morning before the start of Northern Ireland's annual 12th of July march in Belfast city centre on July 12, 2014 in Belfast. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 12: Orangeman band members play their drums during the annual 12th of July march as it made it's way through Belfast city centre on July 12, 2014. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 12: A female band supporter runs past a shop front on her way to watch the start of the annual 12th of July march in Belfast city centre on July 12, 2014 in Belfast. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 12: An Orange bandsman catches his baton during the 12th of July annual march through Belfast city centre on July 12, 2014. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Orange parades in Belfast on July 12, 2014. Photo: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Orange parades in Belfast on July 12, 2014. Photo: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Orange parades in Belfast on July 12, 2014. Photo: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Orange parades in Belfast on July 12, 2014. Photo: Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Orange parades in Belfast on July 12, 2014. Photo: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Orange parades in Belfast on July 12, 2014. Photo: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Orange parades in Belfast on July 12, 2014. Photo: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Orange parades in Belfast on July 12, 2014. Photo: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Orange parades in Belfast on July 12, 2014. Photo: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
A Loyalist supporter challenges police officers after an Orange Order parade made it's way down Crumlin Road adjacent to the nationalist Ardoyne neighbourhood as part of the annual Twelfth of July celebrations, marking the victory of King William III's victory over James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690
Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) leader Billy Hutchinson (second right in black top) watches on as an Orange Order parade makes it's way down Crumlin Road adjacent to the nationalist Ardoyne neighbourhood as part of the annual Twelfth of July celebrations, marking the victory of King William III's victory over James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690
A loyalist supporter dressed as a riot police officer approaches police as they await an Orange Order parade on Crumlin Road adjacent to the nationalist Ardoyne neighbourhood as part of the annual Twelfth of July celebrations, marking the victory of King William III's victory over James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690
An Orange Order parade on Crumlin Road adjacent to the nationalist Ardoyne neighbourhood as part of the annual Twelfth of July celebrations, marking the victory of King William III's victory over James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690
A loyalist supporter dressed as a riot police officer approaches police as they await an Orange Order parade on Crumlin Road adjacent to the nationalist Ardoyne neighbourhood as part of the annual Twelfth of July celebrations, marking the victory of King William III's victory over James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690
12th July 2014 Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Orangemen and bands march through Lisburn city centre during their Twelfth of July parade before they get on buses and travel to the main parade in Ballinderry
12th July 2014 Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Orangemen and bands march through Lisburn city centre during their Twelfth of July parade before they get on buses and travel to the main parade in Ballinderry
12th July 2014 Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Orangemen and bands march through Lisburn city centre during their Twelfth of July parade before they get on buses and travel to the main parade in Ballinderry
12th July 2014 Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Orangemen and bands march through Lisburn city centre during their Twelfth of July parade before they get on buses and travel to the main parade in Ballinderry
12th July 2014 Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Orangemen and bands march through Lisburn city centre during their Twelfth of July parade before they get on buses and travel to the main parade in Ballinderry
12th July 2014 Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Orangemen and bands march through Lisburn city centre during their Twelfth of July parade before they get on buses and travel to the main parade in Ballinderry
12th July 2014 Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Orangemen and bands march through Lisburn city centre during their Twelfth of July parade before they get on buses and travel to the main parade in Ballinderry
12th July 2014 Photo by William Cherry/Presseye Orangemen and bands march through Lisburn city centre during their Twelfth of July parade before they get on buses and travel to the main parade in Ballinderry
Loyalist protesters and PSNI officers at the Twaddell Avenue interface at Ardoyne, north Belfast this morning. Photograph by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Loyalist protesters and PSNI officers at the Twaddell Avenue interface at Ardoyne, north Belfast this morning. Photograph by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Residents and police pictured after Orangemen, bands and supporters march past Ardoyne shop fronts this morning. Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
Orangemen, bands and supporters march past Ardoyne shop fronts this morning. Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
The police presence at Twaddell Avenue as Orangemen, bands and supporters march pass Ardoyne shop fronts this morning. Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
A Twaddell avenue protester dressed as a PSNI officer is pictured as Orangemen, bands and supporters march past Ardoyne shop fronts this morning. Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly speaking after Orangemen, bands and supporters march past Ardoyne shop fronts this morning. Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
Nelson McCausland MLA (centre) joins loyalist marchers and PSNI officers at the Twaddell Avenue interface at Ardoyne, north Belfast this morning. Photograph by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Loyalist protesters and PSNI officers at the Twaddell Avenue interface at Ardoyne, north Belfast this morning. Photograph by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Loyalist protesters and PSNI officers at the Twaddell Avenue interface at Ardoyne, north Belfast this morning. Photograph by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Loyalist marchers and PSNI officers at the Twaddell Avenue interface at Ardoyne, north Belfast this morning. Photograph by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Loyalist marchers and PSNI officers at the Twaddell Avenue interface at Ardoyne, north Belfast this morning. Photograph by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Loyalist marchers and PSNI officers at the Twaddell Avenue interface at Ardoyne, north Belfast this morning. Photograph by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Loyalist marchers and PSNI officers at the Twaddell Avenue interface at Ardoyne, north Belfast this morning. Photograph by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
New PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton talks to officers at the Twaddell Avenue interface at Ardoyne, north Belfast this morning. Phtograph by Kelvin Boyes/Presseye

"Is this supposed to scare Gerry Adams?" asked one.

"It's not him we need to scare," replied the elderly man I had been chatting to earlier, "it's our own people who keep selling us out."

Around 12.30, as the final bands came into view, I decided to do something I had never done before – travel the complete route to The Field (marchers always talk about it in capital letter terms) on foot.

The walk from the city centre to Shaftesbury Square was a dispiriting and slightly scary one.

The pavements were ankle-deep in broken glass, rubbish and discarded burgers.

Almost everybody seemed to be drinking cider, beer, Buckfast or wine straight from the bottle and many of them were already drunk: and it wasn't even midday.

Maybe they had been to the bonfires a few hours earlier and hadn't bothered going to bed. More disturbingly an awful lot of them seemed to be teenage girls.

They are singing, too: singing songs that are nakedly sectarian and brutally graphic about Catholics and the Pope.

The off-licences and bars along the way are doing a roaring trade and there didn't appear to be any attempt to check the ages of those buying the stuff.

I saw one group of boys and girls – none of whom looked older than mid-teen – stagger out of one place with cans of beer and bottles of cider.

A few minutes later they were drinking and dancing. Unlike the City Hall I didn't spot any tourists. I'm not surprised.

This was a manifestation of The Twelfth that wouldn't make any sort of ‘outsider' feel welcome. It meant nothing to me.

It was noisy, boozy, sectarian and unpleasant.

It had nothing to do with a celebration of culture and everything to do with triumphalism and in-your-face bigotry.

That said, the police were terribly laid back about the whole thing. They were everywhere: probably aware that they should have been doing something about the on-street drinking, yet equally aware that the wrong action could trigger a riot.

Given the circumstances it seemed the right approach.

As I passed the entrance to the City Hospital on the Lisburn Road the levels of rubbish and presence of booze just disappeared.

It was like I had stumbled across yet another manifestation of The Twelfth.

This was more middle-class, much more subdued: sandwiches and flasks of tea and polite applause for particular bands and lodges.

And yet some people who recognised me (“the man from the telly” as they like to describe me) made exactly the same points that I had heard outside the City Hall: “We are being sold out”; “Our leaders are useless and always outdone by Sinn Fein”; “Say what you like about McGuinness, he gets things done for his people”.

Finally — almost two-and-a-half hours later — I reached The Field.

Most of the bands had boarded buses and gone somewhere else for lunch, leaving an awful lot of teenagers drinking and singing in groups. This was not a family-friendly place.

I was glad I hadn't brought my daughters with me: partly because there was absolutely nothing for them to do, but mostly because the behaviour, language and obvious drunkenness of many of the teenagers was, frankly, very unpleasant to watch. I headed across to the platform to hear the resolutions and the keynote speech from Edward Hyde, Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland.

There were almost as many people on the platform as there were listening to the speeches. I'm not surprised.

Having walked the guts of 10 miles to get here, and having

just a couple of hours before they had to begin the return journey, the last thing people wanted was speeches or prayers.

The journey back seemed to take forever and it wasn't helped by the rain.

So thanks to the very kind couple on the Lisburn Road who gave me a mug of tea and a Mars Bar to keep me going and to the group outside a bar who offered to buy me a pint. Those who focus on the rubbish left behind and the amount of alcohol consumed by youngsters and bandsmen at The Field and at certain points along the route, or the sectarian chants, have a point.

That is something that the Orange Order and the PSNI need to deal with.

And Belfast organisers have a lot to learn from how rural organisers provide a family fun day at their Fields and don't have anywhere near the same level of drunkenness and vulgarity. I grew up in Armagh — and saw my first Belfast Twelfth when I came to Queen’s in the mid-1970s — so I've always known about the chalk and cheese difference between the Belfast Orange and the Orange elsewhere, but that difference has grown and become worse. It needs dealt with.

The other message from my day was the huge level of discontent that there is with mainstream unionism across Belfast.

I think I spoke to some 100 people during the day (many of whom came up to me) and their dissatisfaction with their leadership was clear: probably explaining falling turnout.

I enjoyed the day. Orangeism is part of our collective culture (it isn't going away, you know) but the Orange Order could do and should do an awful lot more to make it more attractive, more friendly and more in keeping with what is, on The Twelfth, a public holiday for everyone.

But it would be unfair to end this piece without mentioning that this was the quietest Twelfth in Belfast for years.

That took a lot of hard work and discipline.

Well done.

Twelfth in video

Video: Twelfth Day parade return march through Belfast

Video: Loyalist parade past Belfast Catholic church passes peacefully on Twelfth

 

Video: Belfast Twelfth celebrations starting off on Clifton Street 

Video: A damp family day out at Larne's Twelfth celebrations 

Video: Larne hosts flagship Twelfth parades  

Video: Twelfth parade through Belfast 

Video: Bonfires in Belfast on Eleventh night 2014

Video: Mervyn Gibson outlines the Orange Orders plans for the Twelfth 

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