Rebranding the Twelfth won't ease tensions on either side
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.