St Patrick's celebrations could learn from Orangefest
THE annual July 12 Orange festival seems to be developing a healthy spirit, in spite of one or two bad-form instances.
It is most definitely a day out for all concerned and it a great thrill for children who delight in their ice cream cones, bunting and music.
It can also been seen as a bridge-builder, with lodges from Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal attending the festival - all for a day out to meet people they may not have seen for a while.
Lodges from the Republic are most certainly welcome and anybody who wants to come to the event in any part of Ireland is made more than welcome. It is most certainly a world event and capable of generating much revenue and charity.
One must remark on the lack of decorum by some bands, with drummers almost bursting their skins as they passed places of worship. However, this problem is certainly solvable.
Overall, the parade is a healthy one and a day out when people can meet each other. Hardline republicans will have to accept that it is, indeed, part of Northern Ireland's culture and community life.
We could do with a bit of that comradeship and festivity here in the south. St Patrick's Day could do with a bit of renewal and greater numbers.
Maybe some day Orangemen and unionists will travel in great numbers to join in the Irish festival and, reciprocally, people will travel north for Orangefest - all in the good spirit of community, rather than iron-fisted historical significance.