Life goes on in Northern Ireland despite sadly predictable Twelfth rioting
The hope is that violence will peter out and North can forget about parading for a while
There was also trouble involving both loyalists and republicans in east Belfast and in the city centre on Friday night. Orange leaders are angry and feel hard done by. They, not unreasonably, asked why were they penalised and barred from parading past the shops when each recent year the violence was caused by republicans. One answer here is the flags protests when police did not prevent loyalist demonstrators from blocking roads.
PSNI chief constable Matt Baggott would have been very hard pressed to justify removing the republicans who inevitably would have blocked the Crumlin Road on the Twelfth evening had the commission allowed the lodges march past the shops.
Orange leaders now probably fear that because of this year’s trouble this will be the last time they march on the Twelfth evening at Ardoyne.
As part of their sense of grievance and frustration they also point too to how overwhelmingly all the other Orange parades throughout the North are cheerful, trouble-free spectacles, a great big Protestant day for Protestant people. And that generally is the case. People from the South might think from the annual violence at Woodvale/Ardoyne that Northern Ireland is in tumult. It’s not. Life goes on. Most people are enjoying the sunshine – those at least that didn’t leave the North over the Twelfth. Fact is this is a localised one-day big riot.
Loyalists might yet attempt to start another wave of flags-type protests but that would be even more self-damaging to the Orange Order, loyalism and the image of Northern Ireland. The bigger hope now is that the violence will peter out, as has been the case in recent years following each Twelfth of July Ardoyne rioting. We’ll see.
Richard Haass, the former American envoy to Northern Ireland, has agreed to chair an all-party group charged with finding a resolution to parading, flags and the past. Northern Ireland is changing, demographics are changing and Orange leaders would be wise to participate in that enterprise.