Maiden City Accord sets the standard for parading

Morning View
Morning View

The Maiden City Accord is a blueprint for the future of loyal order parades in Northern Ireland.

The number of flashpoints in the Province is in fact small, so the bitter division over parading is soluble.

This voluntary document is further proof of that.

The principles of the new accord include the important provision that places of worship are contacted to ensure that there is no disruption to religious services.

Nothing undermines the celebration of Protestant culture more than bad behaviour outside a chapel. Several thousand marchers can behave impeccably and one fool acting up can torpedo the reputation of the whole procession.

For that reason, the accord’s reference to the need to restrict people who are under the influence of alcohol is welcome, particularly given the temperance tradition of many Orange lodges.

This year in Belfast the Orange Order displayed a determination to stop any members or their supporters resorting to violence after the Ardoyne ban.

Jim Brownlee, governor of the Apprentice Boys, said a wise thing on Wednesday when he explained the parading successes in the North West: “All we’ve tried to do is reach out to the community and explain what our culture is about ... the more doors you open, the more people walk through.”

The loyal orders are pushing at an open door in Londonderry and beyond. For all the intransigence of ‘residents’ groups in areas in which dissident republican thugs have influence, such as the Garvaghy Road and the Ardoyne, the current mood across Ireland seems to be one of a genuine increase in tolerance of different traditions. Consider for example the much wider embrace of British war commemorations than before.

When loyalist culture is shown to be “pro-Christian, historical and commemorative”, as Mr Brownlee puts it, then its opponents are soon exposed as the bigoted ones.