Belfast Telegraph

Order of the day must be dignity

Editor's Viewpoint

Tens of thousands of men and women in the Orange Order are on parade throughout Northern Ireland today, and hopes remain high that these will be peaceful.

Despite the usual forebodings, the Twelfth parades generally pass without incident, though there is always the risk of confrontation surrounding some smaller marches, before and after the main event.

For most people, however, this is a day of genuine entertainment and enjoyment.

Overall there are 18 Orange parades taking place, and also one featuring the Independent Orange Order. These are in venues as far apart as Bushmills in the north, Kesh in the west and Ballymartin in south Down, as well as Holywood.

The biggest demonstration is in Bessbrook in south Armagh, where more than 5,000 people are converging on the Model Village. Bessbrook is a fitting venue for this flagship parade, as it is relatively close to the birthplace of Orangeism.

It is also close to Ballytyrone Orange Hall which was virtually destroyed recently in an arson attack, and thankfully this was widely condemned.

Bessbrook is also close to Kingsmills where one of the greatest atrocities of the Troubles took place, and although today's parade will feature some of the best of rural life in a holiday setting, there will also be dark undertones from the past.

In recent years the Orange Order has been trying to widen the appeal of its demonstrations, and not without success. Those responsible should be encouraged and commended.

However, there is a continued responsibility on the members of the Order to behave with dignity and to stamp out the kind of sectarianism which is also evident from some of the bands accompanying the marchers, and their hangers-on.

One of the more worrying aspects of this and recent Twelfth demonstrations is the feeder parade in north Belfast, and once again this is a time for cool heads on both sides.

The police, as usual, will be prepared for any contingency, but the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland are hoping that this particular parade will pass off peacefully, and that this year's Twelfth will be remembered for all the right reasons.

We have all had more than enough of the bad times and the bad headlines.

Belfast Telegraph

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