Old Order marches for the Twelfth
The annual spectacle of anti-Catholic bigotry that is 'the Twelfth'
passed off relatively incident free over the weekend, with the familiar
denunciations of Popery, treachery and Sinn Feinery.
Despite the fine weather, there was a noticeable decline in the numbers
turning out to watch the parading Orangemen, and few listened to the
hardline anti-peace process message issued at the main rallies.
The most contentious parade was past the nationalist Ardoyne area of
north Belfast and there was a huge military presence to ensure the
parade passed through, greatly increasing tensions at a notorious
Nationalist protesters gathered with placards and chanted the slogan:
"No talk, no walk" as Orangemen went past in reference to their
to engage in direct dialogue.
Protestors were subjected to sectarian taunts and stone-throwing by
loyalists as the parade passed. Youths exchanged missiles, but
stewarding prevented more serious violence.
Sinn Fein's policing spokesman, Gerry Kelly, said there was frustration
at the failure of the Parades Commission to re-route a deliberately
provocative parade, and said the local community had been "taking
"People can see that while a lot of good work is being done on the
interfaces, this parade is getting bigger and the number of hangers-on
on the loyalist side is getting bigger."
US Congressman Donald Payne, who was in Belfast to witness the parade,
expressed dismay at the decision to allow the parade to go through
Ardoyne. "The cost of the security operation to force this march
through Ardoyne could be better spent on the various cross community
groups who are working to bring the divided communities together,"
"It was apparent to me witnessing the march that the peaple who follow
these marches are intent on provoking the local community. If the
Orange Order cannot control the people who attend these marches, then
the Parades Commission should reject any application to march through
contentious areas," the New Jersey congressman said.
GUNMEN AND 'NO' MEN
The previous night saw a record number of emergency call-outs for the
'Eleventh Night' bonfires, at which there were the usual displays by
UVF gunmen staged a 'show of strength' in front of a large crowd off
the Shankill Road in Belfast, while UDA gunmen fired shots in the
The next day, more formally dressed opponents of the peace process used
the events to criticise the leadership and policies of Ulster Unionist
Party leader David Trimble.
Dissident Ulster Unionist MPs Jeffrey Donaldson and Martin Smyth called
for support for their campaign against the 1998 Good Friday Agreement
and this year's Joint Declaration by the Irish and British governments.
Mr Donaldson accused Mr Trimble of splitting the party down the middle
following Trimble's move to discipline him and two other members of
parliament who have rebelled against the party leadership. He said: "It
is time for Ulster Unionism to respond to the cry from ordinary
unionists for greater unity and stronger policies."
He told Orangemen that his predictions about the Good Friday Agreement
had been proven correct.
"I warned that permitting Irish republicans to take up ministerial
office without an end to their terrorism would result in the
corruptions of the democratic process. How right I was," he said.
This was not a reference to the British government's cancellation of
elections this year, but to last year's allegations of an IRA 'spy
ring' at Stormont government buildings.
Mr Smyth also denounced his party's leadership and Mr Trimble's policy
of acting against the dissidents within the party.
He said those who criticised the Good Friday Agreement had been
"demonised more than the terrorists - all for holding a legitimate
democratic point of view."
He again railed against the IMB sanctions body proposed in the Joint
Declaration, which he said provided for a "significant role for the
Irish government in the internal affairs of the Northern Ireland
Assembly". This was "a clear breach of a fundamental unionist
principle", he added.
Calling for support from unnamed members of the UUP's political
leadership -- possibly including Reg Empey, who has failed to publicly
back Mr Trimble's position -- he warned that a "formal and
irreconcilable split" in the Ulster Unionist Party would be the
"inevitable consequence" of David Trimble's actions against