The quaint village of Broughshane was awash with Orange lilies on Saturday as it played host to this year’s Braid Twelfth.
Traditionally one of the smallest demonstrations on the biggest day in the Orange calendar, the 11 lodges representing more than 350 Orangemen in the north Antrim town were accompanied by nine bands and a number of Lambeg drums.
Host lodge, Lisnamurrican LOL 523, had the honour of leading the procession this year.
The main parade started at noon and proceeded through the village to the demonstration field at the junction of the Rathkeel and Buckna roads.
Worshipful District Master Dessie Gray said there “never are any problems in our district but we are still here to support our brethren of Ligoniel”.
“There is a parade after the main parade, a protest parade, on behalf of our brethren at Ligoniel and Drumcree,” he added.
“Ardoyne Orangemen are the same as Braid Orangemen, they are all our brethren.
“Some day it could happen to us.”
While children beat their drums to a delighted audience elderly Orangemen reminsced about their memories of July 12.
Among them was James Lamont, 77, from Broughshane, who told the News Letter this was his 58th year marching as an Orangeman on July 12.
“I have seen a lot of changes,” he said.
“There were bigger crowds in the past.”
Guest speaker in Broughshane, North Antrim UUP MLA and Orangeman, Robin Swann, said he was “proud to be part of the combined Orange and political response, that has emerged since the Parade’s Commission’s ludicrous decision, in regards to our brethren in Ligoniel”.
“It is through this coming together in a common purpose but still respectful of our political differences that we can demonstrate, the unity of purpose within the unionist family.”
Mr Swann said the “decision by the Parades Commission, who are now clearly out of their depth, has given special privileges to those republicans who have been responsible for violence and the threat of violence ... that can no longer be, they have rewarded republican violence, by not allowing our brethren and their bands to return home”.
He added: “But I say clearly here today, that violence must not be met with violence – and in that I support the Grand Master’s words when he said on Thursday that “...the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, in partnership with the unionist family, have embarked on a course of action that will see democracy and cultural tolerance become the corner stones of society where the threat of violence or the echo of terrorism no longer stifle progress and stability.
“The only thing that will trump such ongoing activities is effective peaceful and lawful protest.
“If your view of protest is violence or if you seek to cause agitation within unionism, please stay away from our protests.
“One stone thrown will undermine the peaceful protests at Twaddell over the last 12 months and for the past 16 years each Sunday at Drumcree...”
He asked brethren to be mindful that “the same persecution and attacks on our culture are evident not far from where we stand today in the villages of Dunloy and Rasharkin”.
“Also remember brethren that the decisions of the Parades Commission and the actions of republicans do not just impact those involved directly in parades in certain areas, they affect us all. The joy and enjoyment of this our day is tarnished for us all, if it is limited for one brother. Republicans and others tell us that limitations are only placed on a small number of parades and don’t affect them all.”
What they really mean is that limitations don’t affect them all yet.
Brethren there is a challenge to be overcome here with the Parades
Commission, but there is also a greater challenge to be overcome.
That is the opinion of the media, commentators and more importantly
For too long Republicans have cultivated these groups with their
warped interpretation of unionism and our culture. In the long term we
must tell our story of who we are and what we stand for, the civil and
religious liberty delivered by the Glorious Revolution is a good news
story and our celebration of that Revolution should not be twisted by
those who would take that liberty from us. Be proud of who you are, of
what you stand for and be proud to tell our story as it really is.