Ten years ago I joined the Orange Order because I asked myself what other organisation did anything to mark the centenary of the Ulster Covenant in the style and scale the Order managed and in a fashion which celebrated our ancestors determination to remain part of the United Kingdom unapologetically.
On Saturday I took part in the parade celebrating a centenary of Northern Ireland.
It was, without question, the largest parade there will be in Northern Ireland not only this year but the largest in many years, probably since the Covenant parade.
The weather was glorious but the temperature ideal for marching the four and a half mile route and I didn’t see anyone who wasn’t having a great day.
Don’t let’s the haters put a dampener on it.
Critics in politics and the media will be keen to downplay the success of the day because they know they have nothing to match the colour, the spectacle and the musical talent.
All that was done without a penny of encouragement from officialdom. In fact it’s entirely counter to the way everything is to be going in Northern Ireland.
We are supposed to be all taking about an ‘agreed Ireland’ aren’t we? Saturday showed that there many thousands in N I who don’t buy what is being sold to them. That makes the people marketing it mad.
When you put on the news and hear the parade being denigrated or read a newspaper claim (as I did on Saturday morning) that we would only be able to put people on zimmer frames out and would be reduced to holograms in a few years time look back on the photos on your phone and laugh.
Remember that if your lodge (like mine) can trace its origins back to the 1700s you’ve survived two attempts by the government to ban your organisation plus an order from Grand Lodge to surrender your warrant and stop meeting before you even got into the 20th century.
Our obituary has been written many times before and our opponents will be furious that Saturday was a celebration and not a wake. Be happy about that!
Samuel Morrison, Dromore, Co Down