The Twelfth: a celebration of a key moment in history

Morning View

Morning View

Today is the 324th anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne, which in 1690 changed the course of history.

King William’s victory was not merely some minor event that today only has symbolic significance in Ulster.

By ensuring that the British throne remained Protestant, it was a decisive battle that had lasting ramifications in the American colonies and what would become the United States.

For all the historical importance of the date, the Twelfth has not been embraced across Ireland, given its associations with the military victory of one tradition over another. Through the unhappy Troubles years, it was a day of division in this Province.

While there is hardly now harmony over the Twelfth, there are glimmers of a growing appreciation of its cultural value. The concept of Orangefest is gaining traction, despite what critics say.

The Twelfth marches are a wonderful spectacle, particularly the vast and colourful Belfast parade, which snakes its way through the city to the Field on the southerly outskirts.

Opponents of Orange culture are as bitter as they have always been (and as dishonest too, pretending that they are interested in reaching deals when patently they are not), but curiously the number of locations in which there are protesting ‘residents’ has not increased in number, as it seemed it would a decade or so ago.

It is to be hoped that the accommodating spirit of Rossnowlagh and Londonderry, where overwhelmingly nationalist populations accept loyal order marches, will ultimately prevail even in places such as the Ardoyne and Drumcree, where dissident intransigence currently holds sway (and bolstered by the Parades Commission rulings in their favour).

Unionist and loyalist and loyal order leaders have shown in their comments this week that they realise how important it is that the supporters of Orangemen maintain the moral high ground by remaining rigidly non-violent.

If this appeal is adhered to, then the day is coming when everyone will see that the real bigots of July 12 are those who cannot stomach six minutes of Orange history and culture.




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