Another Twalfth has passed and as this charming Flickr photo album will attest, the sales of Irish tricolours along the Shankill show no signs of decreasing. Unfortunately I couldn't get hold of the 'money shot' with the Irish flag bearing the legend 'KAT' (Kill all Taigs), which can however be viewed here, courtesy of Slugger O'Toole. Slugger also reports that in Coleraine, a placard on one bonfire mocked the recent death of a 16-old Catholic schoolboy, and Loyalist paramilitaries threatened to kill his father after he removed it.
What I want to know is where is the chorus of condemnation from mainstream Unionism, those folks usually so fond of (rightly) calling on Republicans to condemn violence done in their name? Instead the main condemnation was of the DUP for bending its resolve and making a painful compromise with the Shinners. The Irish Times, meanwhile focussed more on the environmental threat posed by the bonfires (a genuine concern but not the priority in this context).
I have no quarrel with the Orange Order celebrating their day, provided there is no triumphalism and no intimidation of other people, as has been the case with the marches on the Garvaghy and Ormeau Roads in the past. When there is nobody that really cares, as with the marches in Rossnowlagh, the marches go off peacefully but, I suppose that would defeat the purpose for many Orangemen. For more than ten years there have been Twelfth celebrations at Áras an Uachtarán, which is a remarkably magnanimous gesture from its Northern Catholic incumbent.
Nobody is suggesting that Paisley and the Orange Order should start commemorating the Easter Rising but for some Ulster Unionists, a Republican acknowledgement of their traditions is not enough. Now, another 'Love Ulster' parade is planned for Dublin in August or September; the go-ahead has been given, which I say is fair enough. But what do the organisers want exactly? They state that they wish to highlight the Protestant victims of Republican violence, while being seemingly oblivious to the fact that the majority of people in the Republic were fully aware of those murders and abhorred them. There is a discomfiting (and most aberrant) use of the imperative in 'love' there. If you ask me, there is something vaguely vampiric about it. No doubt there will be a few teenage yobs on hand to hurl projectiles at the marchers (despite the exhortations of even Republican Sinn Féin) and they'll trot back over the border happy, confirmed in their bigoted preconceptions about the Republic. When will Ulster unionism grow up and cease cleaving to its persecution complex?