Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Annex 1

INDEPENDENT LOYAL ORANGE INSTITUTION SUBMISSION TO THE NORTHERN IRELAND FORUM FOR POLITICAL DIALOGUE

PARADES

  Those who create problems in relation to parades of the Protestant Loyal Orders do so because they claim to be offended; they reject parades in the proximity of "Catholic" areas and they do not wish to be "hemmed in" by those parades. All of these arguments are spurious.

No offence intended

  Orangeism holds, as one of its central principles, the concept of civil and religious liberty for all. It is difficult to comprehend why anyone would object to those who promote this principle. The only conclusion we can come to is that their objections and illegal protests are really directed against Orangeism's other principle, namely the Protestant religion. It is therefore our view that those who protest against Orange parades are motivated by the lowest form of anti-Protestant bigotry and sectarian hatred reminiscent of the atrocities carried out by Roman Catholicism in earlier centuries.

  Orangemen are ordinary people, from all walks of life, bound together by their common beliefs. Theirs is a religious and cultural expression. They have no desire to offend their Roman Catholic fellow countrymen. On the contrary, they are encouraged, by their rituals, to abstain from any activity which would bring offence.

  Moreover, it would seem that the perceived "offence" is a relatively recent phenomenon. It is something which has been deliberately manipulated to forward the political creed of pan nationalism. Previously, Orange parades were enjoyed by entire communities—Roman Catholic and Protestant. Even today we have knowledge of Roman Catholics attending Orange Demonstrations. In the Republic of Ireland such parades proceed unhindered.

The objections

  In objecting to traditional parades, Nationalists often claim that it is because of their going through, or proximity to Nationalist or Catholic areas. In some cases these claims are extended to commercial areas, arterial routes and even totally "neutral" zones such as the walls of Londonderry. Nationalism has been characterised by a desire for territorial expansion. This phenomenon can be witnessed in towns and villages across the Province. Even on the very limited occasions where traditional routes do pass near Nationalist areas, it is for only a very short time and, to quote John Hume, "should offend no-one".

  If the "proximity" argument were adopted by Protestants then many GAA Clubs, who, after all, were active in support of IRA hunger strikers, would be under threat. But Protestants generally are happy to live in peace with their neighbours and allow them cultural expression.

  Nationalists also complain that parades hem them in to their areas. This is a problem of their own making. Any restrictions on movement are in order to protect the marchers. There is no need for such security, if only the Nationalist community would act responsibly and not seek to disrupt legitimate rights. In many areas parades can be policed with minimum presence.

Rewarding the law breaker

  All too often the disruption to traditional routes has been caused when Nationalist agitators have blocked roads to prevent a march from proceeding. In forcing a rerouting in such circumstances, the Government were sending very dangerous signals to the law breakers. It is not surprising that objections to parades have become more strident.

The right to march

  The Independent Loyal Orange Institution asserts the right to march along traditional routes on the Queen's highway. Very often, such marches are religious in nature and any banning of such is not only a matter of civil rights but also a matter of religious liberty. Pressure on parades is but one part of an overall elimination process. Where Protestants cannot march today they cannot live, or even have access to, tomorrow. In reality, when Nationalists object to a march it is in fact the people associated with that march who are being rejected.

Solutions

  There is but one solution to this issue. It is that the right to march on traditional routes is recognised and defended.

October 1996


 
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