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End the republican blockade!

Let the Ballynafeigh Orangemen walk!

For over one hundred years, Ballynafeigh Orangemen have walked in peace from their Orange Hall on the Ormeau Road to join the various main traditional demonstrations in Belfast City centre.

However, since 1995 they have been stopped from attending various Orange walks and Church services. The main 12th July celebrations, the ‘mini-Twelfth’ - held on 1st July to remember the blood sacrifice of thousands of Ulstermen at the Somme - the annual Orange Widows service and small Church parades have all been targeted.

This situation has not come about by accident. Pan-Irish national chauvinists know that the IRA were unable to break the resolution of Ulsterfolk in 25 years of bombing and killing. Their sectarian and imperialist ‘Hot War’ gave way to a war of cultural position – a new ‘Cold War’. Gerry Adams, at an internal republican meeting in 1997, confirmed this new strategy. Talking about the targeting of another traditional Orange walk – Drumcree – he noted: “Ask any activist in the North if Drumcree happened by accident and they will tell you ‘No’. Three years of hard work went into creating that situation; and fair play to those people who put the work in. These are the type of scene changes that we have to focus on, develop and exploit.”

Pan-Irish national chauvinists in South Belfast have worked very hard to bring about the ‘scene changes’ that Adams spoke about. These ‘scene changes’ include successfully twisting the English language (so that peaceful and traditional Orange walks are now viewed as ‘sectarian coat trailing exercises’) and convincing the world that there is a ‘Lower’ Ormeau Road – a Catholic road in its own right!

The people behind this massive orangeophobic propaganda onslaught cannot be dismissed as a bunch of ‘ignorant mad paddies’. Far from it! Pan-Irish national-chauvinists have become masters of the dark arts of political spin-doctoring through years of practice. They can raise millions of dollars through their worldwide distribution network, mostly from gullible Americans who have more money than sense.

However, they don’t always get things going their own way. The embarrassing Provo links with the ultra-leftist Colombian terror group, FARC, have left Gerry Adams floundering. For the first time in ages, the republicans have been shown in a bad light in North America. Unionists could have had a field day if they had the media savvy but they haven’t pressed home their temporary advantage. Republican cheerleaders in the US like Fr Sean McManus are already doing all in their power to bury this story. We can be sure that they will hype up more stories about rampaging Orange mobs in the coming weeks of the ‘marching season’.

We can learn a lesson from this. This new ‘cold war’ is largely media driven. To have any chance of success in countering the anti-Orange hatemongers, their defenders will have to be careful in their language. They will have to explain their principles and traditions in the simplest of terms. They will have to repeat their key words and phrases constantly to show that the Orange Order is simply a traditionalist Protestant fraternal organisation which seeks to offend no-one and that Catholics have nothing to fear from Orange walks. These celebrate the achievement of civil and religious liberties for all.

The truth is that hatemongers operating in the lower end of the Ormeau Road have succeeded in blockading it against their neighbours because they don’t like how Orangemen celebrate their traditions, how they dress, what music they play and the way they conduct themselves on the way to their place of worship. Ballynafeigh Orangemen have every right to walk the length of the Ormeau Road. It’s high time that the blockade was lifted!


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