INDEPENDENT LOYAL ORANGE INSTITUTION SUBMISSION
TO THE NORTHERN IRELAND FORUM FOR POLITICAL DIALOGUE
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
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
communitiesRoman Catholic and Protestant. Even today we
have knowledge of Roman Catholics attending Orange Demonstrations.
In the Republic of Ireland such parades proceed unhindered.
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.
There is but one solution to this issue. It
is that the right to march on traditional routes is recognised