After months of tensions, it was a glorious Twelfth

Morning View
Morning View

It would have been no great surprise if this had been a difficult Twelfth.

There has been months of bitter political polarisation, since the fall of Stormont at the beginning of the year.

The days running up to the biggest date in the marching calendar have been marked by tensions over bonfires.

And disputes over parading restrictions in various locations have featured, as they typically now do each year. But in fact it was one of the most glorious July 12s in recent years.

The weather was almost perfect – dry and mostly sunny, but not too hot for those Orange men and women and bandspeople who had to walk long distances.

Even that long-running parading sore in the Ardoyne passed off without even protest, due to some level of agreement with the residents (in a situation that is as yet not entirely solved).

So Northern Ireland can breathe a sigh of relief today.

The loyal orders have particular cause for satisfaction, after their hard work pulled off such a successful day.

The Orange tradition remains very strong. Tens of thousands of marchers took part and scores of thousands more watched them at the 19 locations across the Province.

It ought to be a simple affair, of people walking and playing music to commemorate a major event in global history – a victory that changed the course of the British throne and so the new world too. But this celebration has been far from straightfoward in recent decades.

Even so, there are templates for today’s success: the uncontentious loyal order parades in majority nationalist areas such as the Northwest and Rossnowlagh in Donegal.

This year the biggest difficulty was over bonfires. Next year, perhaps, there will be earlier efforts to get agreements within loyalism and unionism on the need for the utmost co-operation with the fire service over safety. Also for a policy of not putting posters of politicians on fires.

As Paul Berry says, the IRA burned people, not just posters. Even so, the 11th and 12th should be a celebration of culture beyond reproach, and today showed how that can be so.