He mentions the suggestion that it should become a Cultural Tourist Event.
Before the 12th becomes a Cultural Tourist Event the Powers that be in Tourism and the Orange Order need to step back and take a long hard look at what happens as part of the twelfth of July celebrations.
OK Alan, as a native you have some idea of how it evolved and what it is about, but as a visitor coming in raw, what image do enormous bonfires of stolen pallets and tyres from motor vehicles producing palls of acrid smoke and surrounded by people who seem to have fallen out of a pub, do to sell the province?
This Video is from 2007 but will give you an idea of how a Bonfire is built.
Up to about five years ago a field that bordered my land was taken over and a bonfire built and burned there. Trees on our property were hacked when wood was scarce, but we could have told them, if they bothered to ask, that fresh branches are too damp to burn. Nobody ever asked our permission to chop the trees or place the fire right behind our bungalow. The field was way below us so we had a ringside view of all that went on. Naturally no thought of our feelings were taken into consideration. The drunken squalling that supposedly was the singing of ‘The Sash‘ (one line repeated endlessly) was an insult to any occasion. The fire burned all night and indeed smouldered for nearly a week covering our bungalow and gardens with a layer of soot and bits of half burned tyres. The whole place reeked of burning rubber for weeks and needed to be hosed down on the morning of the 13th.
I have watched 12th Parades both live and on TV over the years. I am sorry; but in my mind a parade is marched with military precision in time to a band. What I witnessed over the years could in no way be called marching but rather slouching along with participants waving to everyone they know. It would be impossible to march properly anyway, as each lodge was preceded by a band, and each band thumped a different attempt at a tune.
The Belfast Telegraph give a flavour of this years main Parade in Belfast.
Alan’s description of what happened at the field further shows that the whole thing is a sham and an insult to Queen and country, as are the Flags that appear all over the countryside at the end of June and are left there to rot and decay all year long at the mercy of the weather.
Marches will take place are regular intervals from now to the end of August across the Province, often culminating with a church service. During my years as a Church Warden I was involved in preparing for and greeting the Orange Men. The church hall was opened for the band to off load their instruments – large drums etc. Regularly the band members stayed in the hall for the duration and quite a few of those who did enter the church were unfamiliar with service or the hymns chosen by the Orange men themselves beforehand.
New Drawing Boards are needed!
I remember as a youngster my father lecturing my brothers and me about having respect for ‘The Flag’, no matter what country you were in. The place for flags are public buildings and they should be removed (never touching the ground) before sundown. The greatest insult is to have a flag with a rip or tear in it. Painting flags on faces or wearing shorts made from fabric that looks like a Union Jack is way off the grid where I am concerned.