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Orangeism and the Twelfth: what it means to me 

Island Pamphlets, 132 Serpentine Road, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim, BT36 7JQ.  ISBN 1 89951 015 X. (2.00 including postage)

IN MAY 1999, the East Belfast-based Ballymacarrett Arts & Cultural Society (BACS) brought together six prominent Unionists to address the theme Orangeism and the Twelfth: what it means to me. This excellent booklet is an account of that meeting. 

The speakers addressed the subject in differing ways. Thus the history, cultural significance and childhood memories of the 'Twelfth' are covered here. I particularly enjoyed the address by Gordon Lucy of the Ulster Society. He noted that the "Glorious Revolution inaugurated the decisive shift in the transfer of power way from the Monarchy and to Parliament. Indeed, it was only after the Glorious Revolution that Parliament became a regular and permanent feature of political life. It may be justly observed that the Glorious Revolution laid the foundations of both our constitutional monarchy and our parliamentary democracy". It struck me that, ironically, King William's victory ensures that 'concerned citizens' like Gerard Rice can enjoy the freedom to object to Orange walks along the Ormeau Road!

A lively debate followed the speakers - including heated exchanges between the DUP's Sammy Wilson and the PUP's Ken Wilkinson. The BACS audience agreed that the Orange Order was losing the 'PR' battle concerning 'contentious' walks. Indeed, the Orange hadn't even bothered to send a representative to this meeting! My only criticism of the booklet was that it should include pictures and short biographical text on each speaker. Nevertheless it ought to encourage further grassroots debate on this very important subject.

John Jenkins

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