Personally I do not care if there are one million Orange Order parades a year, I do not like any parades even if they are republican. They cause lots of disruption and also they are very tribal and if we want a united society we need to do some sort of joint parades or no parades.
However, there is a constant phrase being used – attack on our culture. Is this the culture that glorifies uvf, lvf, uff, uda, udr, Orange Volunteers and worst of all, the Shankill Butchers. To me that is not culture, it is simply a cult. The fact that this word culture is used makes the Protestant people think that they are people attacked personally and that they are somehow in danger of having no culture.
You cannot get rid of a culture – plain and simple. No one is trying to do that, in fact around Northern Ireland there are thousands of Orange parades all through the year. People who live in a particular area who do not want your parades walking past their area should be afforded that right. They pay the rates, mortgages, taxes for that area and therefore are the ones who should have the say on whether or not what they consider a sectarian parade goes down their road.
The Orange Order by definition are a sectarian organisation, their flags, emblems, names on those flag, sashes, songs, beats are in some cases sectarian. When there are claims of sectarianism in the parades, they are fact. Many people that have been interviewed about the parades say that it is to lord it over the other side. This proves the intention of the parades. To use the excuse it is a culture is simply not good enough, or we have walked this road for hundreds of years. The cavemen slept in fields and caves for thousands of years but guess what, they moved on. The Nazi party used the excuse their culture was under attack, so did the KKK, you cannot justify glorifying loyalist terrorism with calling it culture.
If the Protestant Orangemen see their self-worth in wearing a sash once a year I feel sorry for them. If you are secure in who you are in your national or cultural identity then you should not have to flaunt it where it is not wanted. As well as this if there is socio-economic problems in some Protestant areas, then why not start doing scholarships for people to do a college course or go to university.
I think that if these people are comfortable and confident in themselves then they will not feel that they need to be part of the crowd so much. Then when they do march they will be doing it for fun and not to raise tensions or try and flaunt some deluded notion of betterment over Catholics.
Why not add to what you call your culture and maybe have some factual history classes and explain that the person who the Orange Order perceive as their hero was in fact asked to go to war with King James as he was an ally of King Louis who was going to take over Europe, and all nations would have been Catholic – as well as the fact that William did not care about the Ulster people or even know who they were. How come the English, Scottish and Welsh do not celebrate it. Personally I wish King James had never have come to Ireland, if he had not then this culture of hatred would not exist. He did not free your people from the Catholic Church, he was sanctioned by the Catholic Church. You cannot use the same excuses from the 17th century and use them in modern times, it simply does not apply. If your people are afraid of the Catholic Church then do not join, it is that simple. Or if you think that Catholic laws will be applied all over the country I think you are wrong.
You said you want to encourage nationalist voters. Well try to do it then, show that you care about the whole country and not just your legion of loyalists.