(Fun photo from The Sunday News, Belfast c 1994)
Yesterday the County Antrim Orangemen held their annual March in my home town of Larne.
Several times recently people have talked to me about turning THE TWELFTH into a cultural and family friendly event.
But for people like myself there are a number of problems about that. And I am by no means a traditional Republican or Nationalist. Nor indeed am I a Unionist.
First of all I dont like the overuse of the Union Jack. It is certainly the national flag of the UK and Northern Ireland is, politically part of the UK.
But even tourists from the rest of the UK are shocked by its overuse here. There is no need to have it on every lamppost. And many Unionists take pleasure in placing that flag outside Catholic churches, schools and homes. They do this to rub Catholics noses in red, white and blue. This is blatant intimidation.
Secondly, as far as I know the Orange Order rule book has not changed when it comes to going into Catholic churches or attending Mass.
When I first came to Larne I celebrated the funeral of the Deputy Mayor, a Catholic who had served Larne for decades. The Unionist mayor, councillors and council staff stood across the road during the funeral ceremony.
We also have regular incidents of March followers urinating against Catholuc churches or draining paint on them or causing damage.
In retaliation for this a small number of “Republicans” damage Orange halls. This is equally as wrong as what the Orange men do.
The only way to turn THE TWELFTH into a cultural and family event is for the orange Order to use flags differently and to rid itself of its anti Catholic beliefs, practices and rhetoric.
Can I see that happening any time soon?
I can see some readers rushing to call me anti Catholic 😊
I am a catholic. I’m not anti myself and my own beliefs.
But I am anti the corrupt Roman Catholis institution
And, in fact, that institution itself has given, and still gives, Orangemen and others, plenty of ammunition to use against it.