Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Editor's Viewpoint: Marching to a different beat

Today's Twelfth of July demonstrations are following a well-trodden historical path.

Thousands of members of the Orange Order are parading to venues in order to pass various resolutions expressing their support of the Protestant faith.

For some, this is always the most important part of the demonstrations.

But for many others the Twelfth marks a great family day out when the main objective is enjoyment.

As such, it is part of the cultural heritage of a sizeable section of the Protestant community, and people have a right to celebrate their traditions within the law, and without infringing upon the rights of others.

However, many in the Catholic and nationalist community still see the Orange parades as a form of triumphalism which has no place in a modern Northern Ireland.

Despite the attempts of the Orange Order to popularise their parades, they have still much to do in this respect.

Times are changing.

And the non-Orange world is marching to the beat of a different drum.

The Twelfth used to be a day when everything except the parade routes was closed, but this year things are different, and this is to everyone's benefit.

The major stores are opening for a specific period.

This is an important step, and hopefully soon the Twelfth will become a normal trading day.

Meantime the tension remains in certain areas, though nowhere quite so bad as during the worst of the Troubles.

However the message is clear.

The Orange Order must move on politically and socially if it is to survive in a modern form, and the rest of Northern Ireland must be allowed to go about its normal business at the height of summer.

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