Some little vignettes from the Twelfth

And so it is that the Twelfth of July rolls around again, and once more we find the Orange Order trying to enhance its image to fit in with our New Dispensation. The most visible sign of this is the effort being put into cleaning up the famously rowdy, boozy and sometimes violent partying that goes on at Eleventh Night bonfires. Nowadays the Eleventh is supposed to be a family fun event, characterised by children’s face-painting and bouncy castles.

Needless to say, some Orange traditionalists aren’t keen on these modernist innovations. I noticed in particular a reverend from somewhere up the country who was holding forth on Radio Ulster. The subject of the reverend’s wrath was an Orange lodge that, in a fit of multiculturalism, was planning to include a Chinese dragon in its march. The reverend argued that the Orange Order was supposed to be a Christian organisation, and demanded to know where these Orangemen got off parading a pagan idol. Meanwhile, I would guess that not for the first time the local Chinese community was left scratching its collective head.

Actually, this brings back some memories for me. Back in the 1980s I used to know a woman who taught in one of the better Protestant grammar schools. Conscripted into taking a PE lesson, she figured she might introduce the girls to yoga. You can guess what happened next. Half the girls in her class showed up with notes from their parents excusing them from this ungodly activity. If memory serves, the initiative actually came from some fundamentalist pupils who had got it into their heads that the teacher – a churchgoing Protestant herself, by the way – was involved in some insidious plot to turn them all into Hindus, and their souls would be endangered by taking part in this “yoga”. Nice to know that attitudes have moved on.

Back in the present day, I note that the Union Jack shop on the Newtownards Road has been doing a roaring trade in Irish tricolours – or “fenian flags”, as they’re tactfully labelled. These have been on sale for the express purpose of burning, and are clearly marked “to burn” for the benefit of loyalist customers who might have thought otherwise. Still, at a fiver a pop, there would be a deal there for any nationalist bargain hunter intrepid enough to venture up the Newtownards Road.

Finally, a loyalist band in Castlederg has taken the unusual step of taking out a half-page ad in its local paper, assuring the broad masses that it has cleaned up its act and got rid of band members who had been involved in sectarian or anti-social behaviour. This has me genuinely puzzled. I thought those were the main reasons people joined loyalist bands in the first place.


  1. Madam Miaow said,

    July 12, 2008 at 11:45 am

    A Chinese Dragon on an Orange Lodge march?!!!!

    Ye gods, we get everywhere. (Or I’ve slipped across into another dimension.)

  2. splinteredsunrise said,

    July 12, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    I suppose we do have the Black Prods marching today, from the Orange lodges in Ghana and Togo. That’s about as much multiculturalism as the marching season can handle.

  3. Liam said,

    July 12, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    It’s political correctness gone mad! If a man can’t indulge in a bit of violent, drunken, sectarian thuggery on Ulster’s streets where can he do it? And you know what you can do with your Babylonian anti-Christ pope.

  4. Phil said,

    July 12, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    These have been on sale for the express purpose of burning, and are clearly marked “to burn”

    Now there’s a picture that doesn’t get on the news.

  5. Garibaldy said,

    July 12, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    It got in one of the main papers in NI though. I have to say if I were a member of the OO I’d be with the Rev Dickson on the Chinese lion/dragon (depending on who you believe). It was though hilarious to see him rant about this on the TV today.

  6. ejh said,

    July 13, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Would marking flags “to burn” actually be prosecutable?

  7. Andy Newman said,

    July 13, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Therw was a toddler yoga group in Somerset last year that had to disband after the local church revoked permission to use the church hall, the only venue in the village, due to paganism

  8. July 14, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    I always thought, that the OO would accept pagans, heathens, idolators, etc. as long as they are protestant

  9. almata said,

    July 15, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Well here are some of the qualifications of membership fro the US Lodges taken from their website (The OO isn’t known for being tech savy, so the HTML is a little wacked).

    I particularly like “condemning intemperance as an abomination”, “He should have a hatred of cursing and swearing”, “He should shun the company of all men addicted to any or all of these habits”, “his disposition should be humane and compassionate; he should be an enemy to brutality”, “be a lover of rational and improving society”, “charity and good will towards all men; being careful to preserve sobriety and good conduct among his brethren”

    All of which are in abundance on the street of the Province during the Twelfth. From

  10. ejh said,

    July 15, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Sobriety in particular, the only time I’ve been present.

  11. July 16, 2008 at 12:31 am

    Ah well, God help their closed little minds. At least they’re not killing each other anymore.

  12. Chris said,

    July 26, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    The chinese have to be the most well respected minority in our wee land land as they have been here through the worst of times and have stuck it out like the rest of us when some true blooded ulstermen ran off to England out off fear. I was deeply upset at the fuss made off the pride of the raven parade as although most of us are pretty narrow minded I beleive I can speak for most loyalists that we accept the chinese community as part of our own. I love the chinese people and culture and why not integrate them I think the twelth would be amazing to have the likes of the japanese taiko drummers and at the end of the day we have a strong culture and our bands play with more passion than any other musicians you will ever see so allowing some varying cultural aspects into our parades will only do good and help make the twelth a day for everyone (exept Catholics maybe ha ha) Nah even them they seem to enjoy it as there is always plenty off them watching at Short Strand and the likes. For God and China!! Quis Separabit

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