eDITORIAL - Still playing the orange card

Thousands of Orangemen, band members and their supporters will gather in the city today for the annual 12 of July demonstrations.

In recent years the Orange Order has made efforts to market the day as a tourist attraction, presenting it as a family-friendly celebration of culture.

No doubt this is the reason the organisation is holding its main parade in Derry this year to coincide with the ongoing City of Culture celebrations.

The Orange Order has made some steps towards the 21st century and attempted to improve its public image by beginning to engage with nationalist residents’ groups. However, it is clear that it still has some distance to go.

Leaders of the Order in the past have been no strangers to fiery rhetoric but the pronouncements yesterday about anger and protests over the Ardoyne ruling can only be seen as provocative.

At a time when tensions are high in a number of areas across the North, talk of a crisis, and the demonising of nationalists, will only serve to raise the temperature.

The message too from the Belfast Grand Master that “violence pays” in influencing Parades Commission rulings is nothing short of irresponsible from a body that styles itself as a religious organisation.

Orange leaders may have said they are praying for a peaceful 12th but such pronouncements ring hollow when, at the same time, the organisations’s chaplain encourages people to channel their anger towards the Parades Commission.

Such blustering clearly belongs in the past and it is time the Orange Order embraced the new realities of the North.

It is definitely not something that should be shared with visitors and tourists.