Minority frontier communities stand by their culture

Morning View
Morning View

Border Protestants have been among the most resilient in the aftermath of the Northern Ireland Troubles and their steadfastness in pursuit of what they passionately believe in is an example to co-religionists and fellow political travellers residing in safer, more comfortable areas.

Minority Protestant communities in Fermanagh, Tyrone, south Armagh and south Down, by necessity, had to stick together in the dark, painful years of the Troubles when kith and kin and neighbours, proudly wearing a uniform of the Crown, were being murdered in a vicious republican terror campaign.

Ulster Protestants on the border are also much more church-orientated than those living in larger urban areas and their deep commitment to faith and country has underscored decent Christian values which are so much part of their personal psyche.

Significantly, the Orange Order plays an influential role in the lives of many border Protestants, and lodge membership is proportionately higher there than in unionist heartlands where it is much easier to publicly declare pro-British sentiments.

Orange halls are in these areas a main base for activity by the minority Protestant population, with community events, some totally unconnected with Orangeism, held there.

Regrettably, Orange halls have been the target for republican arson attacks, not just ending with the cessation of the Troubles in the mid-1990s, but continuing since in a period of relative peace.

Indeed, in the past three years, there have been 40 arson attacks on Orange halls, but, in the case of the Inver lodge at Rosslea in south Fermanagh, the hall has been rebuilt with commendable foresight by lodge members, staking for a future in the region.

Such durability in the face of adversity indicates a deep commitment to a cause by a proud and resolute people.