Robin Swann: Guardian writer sneers at Portrush flute band, which in fact showed a responsible attitude towards the Open

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor
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I am writing regarding a recent article by Ewan Murray, who is the Guardian’s Golf and Scottish football correspondent in which he referenced the upcoming Open Golf tournament at Royal Portrush.

Rather than focus on the golf and the massive amount of work that has taken place to ensure the Open returns to Portrush for the first time since 1951, he chose to obsess about the Portrush Sons of Ulster Flute Band in particular, band parades in general, the Orange Order and bonfires.

His tone can only be described as sneering and snide and he almost seemed disappointed that parades can take place in an uncontested atmosphere.

The facts are that we have an estimated 660 marching bands across Northern Ireland, which are a major feature of cultural life here.

They provide a great deal of enjoyment for many people and a 2013 study estimated they generated almost £55 million in economic and social benefits for Northern Ireland each year.

The local Portrush band realised that The Open would coincide with their annual parade — which last year attracted 48 bands — and agreed to scale back the occasion and have a concert in the town centre instead.

They should be commended for their responsible attitude, which is indicative of the entire community on the north coast who realise what a great opportunity this is to showcase the area to a global tv audience.

For the sake of Ewan Murray’s readers, I really hope he has a better understanding of golf and Scottish football and I suggest he sticks to that.

Robin Swann, MLA, leader, Ulster Unionist Party