Editorial - Orange Order Can’t shirk blame

The annual festival of blame-dodging that traditionally follows rioting by loyalists is in full swing after successive nights of rioting in Belfast and other towns across the North.

The Orange Order, after deliberately upping the ante with provocative public statements on Thursday, which actively encouraged protesters to take to the streets, exacerbated the situation with inflammatory speeches at ‘fields’ following parades on Friday.

Anyone looking at the intemperate language used by senior Orangemen cannot fail to see that the blame for provoking the disgraceful scenes of violence rests firms with the Orange Order.

Fiery words referring to a supposed “cultural war” and battlefields were clearly designed to raise tensions. The chaplain of the Orange Order went even further when he encouraged Protestants and unionists to “fight the war” against the Parades Commission.

Such warlike language sits very uncomfortably alongside the Orange Order’s Christian rhetoric and is particularly incongruous from a clergyman.

When the predictable violence erupted the Orange leaders then tried to rewrite history and claim they wanted peace all along. However, such claims ring hollow given that the Orange Order not only stoked up the trouble, but, as footage shows, members were present at the troublespots.

Orange attempts to blame the PSNI for the disorder are ludicrous.

The fact that the situation in Derry - with its entirely peaceful parade - was so completely different highlights the Orange Order’s detachment from the realities of politics in the North. Dialogue and compromise have resulted in a decade of peaceful marches in Derry but this lesson has not been learned across the North where senior Orangemen have yet to realise that the Orange state has gone.