The sun has been shining unseasonably for July. The last few years saw rain and temperatures in the lower teens. I am enjoying the Mediterranean weather, with temperatures in the upper 20s it’s tee shirt and shorts weather. My body is responding to the vitamin D boost to my immune system and general health. But you would be mistaken if you thought the bright red face was the result of over exposure to the sun. Actually it is acute embarrassment, fortunately it’s not orange.
On the streets of Belfast on a beautiful summer’s evening the temperature ran high. After a day of ‘celebration’ of Orangeism on 12th of July the streets were besieged with cultural diversity in extremus. Petrol bombs, bottles, bricks, and expletives were hurled across police lines and at police lines by extremism. If the Orange Order thought rebranding their product to ‘Orangefest’ would alter the back looking narrative it has, if you’ll pardon the pun, backfired.
Several elected representatives were also on the streets attempting to quell the fire which they themselves had started.Their language was inflammatory since a ban was imposed on a returning march passing what has now become an annual flashpoint. They profess to support law and order and the directives of the Parades Commission, tasked with resolving contentious marches, which imposed the ban.
‘Orangefest’ displayed its intolerant agenda toward Catholics with the No.1 hit on the Orange Parade. “The sash my father wore” was played by a marching band stopped outside a Catholic church in contravention of the ban. So much for shared cultures and tolerance. One Orangeman and MP Mr. Nigel Dodds was knocked unconscious by a concrete block thrown by Orange rioters. Maybe he will have a ‘road to Damascus’ moment rather than the blinkered road to the Ardoyne shops.
In stark contrast a 16 year old Pakistani schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban, another backward looking organisation, for her sustained protest demanding the right to education for every child, spoke at the UN on the 12 July. Press coverage of her forward looking international agenda of inclusion eclipsed the trauma of OrangeFest’s ‘big day out’.