Friday 28 April 2017

Rebranding the Twelfth won't ease tensions on either side

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters
A bonfire is seen erected on the Shankill Road in West Belfast. The bonfire will be set alight on Friday, ahead of theTwelfth of July celebrations held by members of the Orange Order. Reuters
A man gestures as he climbs a bonfire on the Shankill Road in West Belfast. The bonfire will be set alight on Friday, ahead of theTwelfth of July celebrations held by members of the Orange Order. Reuters

Jane Hardy

The Twelfth Fortnight – July 12th – is, of course, a significant date and period in the North. Depending on which side of the great sectarian divide you come from, it means a lot of flags, parades, the sonorous beating of the lambeg drum to commemorate the Battle of the Boyne or a quick exit to Donegal until it's all over.

In an attempt to defuse the routine conflicts, brawls and general ill-feeling around the date – which also results in a significant economic hit as people take unnecessary holidays and are disinclined to shop – the unionists have had a go at rebranding the glorious Twelfth. It's been about as easy as proposing Alan Shatter for a cabinet post in the reshuffle. In 2012, 'Orangefest' offered "a family friendly pageant open to all, especially tourists and indeed anyone in multi-cultured Belfast on this day. This year's festivities include: Street theatre; a food festival within the grounds of Belfast City Hall with a Titanic menu demonstration and a hog roast. Entertainment including shows, walkabout performances and balloon modelling".

Has it worked? What do you think? As I sit in my study off the Ormeau Road, within sight of an historic Orange Lodge, married to a (non-practising) Catholic, I sense the unpleasantness.

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