Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Time to face the realities of marching season

The article by David Hume (Comment, July 12) on the tourism potential of the Orange Order is disappointing, particularly as it comes from one who might have been regarded as a modernising voice in the order.

The realities of this season as I have seen them in my area alone include the marking out of territory with hundreds of flags. There are paramilitary flags dominating the entrance to a large housing estate and there are paramilitary murals. Catholic people look on in indignation as hundreds of tyres are placed on bonfires with no legal action following from the authorities.

Whatever The Twelfth is about, it is about separation and the onus is on the Orange Order to show how it can play its part in a truly shared society.

The second theme in David Hume's article is an attack on the very presence of the Parades Commission. It is a disgrace that the order largely refuses to deal with the commission - a body set up under statute.

Its refusal to do so is an indication that it has not seriously engaged with the effect that its parading tradition has on the wider community. That is irresponsible in a society such as ours, with its continuing deep divisions.

The order cannot ignore the whole panoply of activities that accompany its main day of parading. In doing so, it makes its attempts to build up the tourism potential of The Twelfth farcical and doomed to failure.

CLLR DECLAN O'LOAN (SDLP)

Ballymena Borough Council

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