This Saturday around 40,000 people will take part in the County Derry Orange Order parade in Limavady. Labelled as a flagship parade by the organisation that means this event will be held up as a showpiece event in the parading calendar. For almost two decades now Derry has led the way in terms of providing a model for loyal order parades. After the devastation and death of the mid-1990s, particularly in relation to Apprentice Boys parades, many within the unionist community took risks in engaging with nationalist residents to prevent further damage and bloodshed. This paid off. Last year the main Orange Order parade and again the Relief of Derry parade, took place during the City of Culture celebrations with out a cross word let alone the formerly ubitquitous riot. It seems however, the goys from the ‘Big Smoke’ in Belfast don’t seem to grasp the concept that talking can solve problems.
As Saturday approaches we see that unionist parties have en masse excluded themselves from talks on about flags, parading and the past over recent decisions taken by the Parades Commission. This has also seen a scheduled North South Ministerial Council meeting cancelled. Another political flsahpoint will be whether or not next week’s Stormont Executive meeting will not go ahead. This may mean there could be dire consequences on outstanding budgetary decisions. It will be an abject shame if we loose finance in key public services whilst bickering about flags and parades over centuries old battles goes on. Calls from politicians that protests should remain peaceful are nothing more than a Pontius Pilate like excuse. If violence breaks out we will hear ‘it has nothing to do with us’ sound out from unionist politicians. Here’s hoping we are not in for another ‘Groundhog’ summer.
Eamon Sweeney, Editor.