Marching on the road to nowhere…
The violence in Northern Ireland has slipped under the news radar somewhat due to News International’s antics. It is, however, a reminder that a final settlement of the Province’s many troubles are far from final. Both communities have alienated fringes who have no stake in the peace process what so ever. It was the turn of ‘militant republican’s’ to catch the blame for last night but the spark the lit the flame is the annual 12th of July celebrations and marches by the Orange Order.
Why these marches are still allowed to pass through Catholic communities or indeed exist is a bit of a mystery to me. This is not about democratic freedom; this is about a deliberate provocation of one community too another, with one lording it over another and rubbing their faces in a painful defeat and that is unacceptable. Furthermore, I expect these marches to gain in popularity as the problems facing the British-Irish (Protestant, Loyalist, call it what you like) community grow. They will become lightening rods to conduct through which their anger and alienation is conducted.
Historically, I feel the partition of Ireland was a great wrong done to the Irish people by the British Empire. It looks like, especially with Sinn Féin extending its political hegemony to southern Ireland, that some form of reunion is inevitable and only a matter of time. How the Loyalist community is integrated into and given a democratic stake in that settlement and that will involve radical changes to the Irish state and probably some kind of federal settlement allowing a degree of autonomy to Loyalist-majority areas. However, it also involves that community recognising it does not have the right to route its ridiculous marches in a way that directly impinges on the right of other communities to feel intimidated.