‘See an Orange parade before making mind up’

'The Orange' by Frankie Quinn
'The Orange' by Frankie Quinn

An accomplished war photographer from nationalist Short Strand, who has just opened an exhibition on Orange Order parades, is encouraging nationalists to watch “the spectacle for themselves before making their minds up”.

Frankie Quinn, 48, who started his photographic career when he was 16-years, covered the Troubles before being asked to use his skill in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Palestine.

For the last three years Mr Quinn - who has published two books of peaceline photographs - worked on ‘The Orange’ capturing the action from urban and rural parades.

He said during his latest project he had “very little hassle with people more interested in my 1964 Rolleiflex camera”.

He said he wanted to get “a wider meaning” to parades that are an “alien tradition” to a nationalist from Short Strand, and which he says are “such anathema and source of tension for my community. I came into this project with as open a mind as possible and what I experienced has given me a certain respect for the spectacle, the regimental way in which the bands conduct themselves, the camaraderie and competitiveness between the bands and how the parades differ between Belfast and the rural areas, as well as a deeper understanding for me of what these parades mean to the Protestant community,” he said.

During the project, Mr Quinn said he established a “better understanding of the organisation and an admiration of their parades”.

“The Orange Order have something there that could be bottled and sold,” he said. “But there is a huge difference between the rural parades and those in Belfast.”

He said he has seen “a great change in Orange parades over the years after more contentious ones have been sorted out”. “I would recommend that anyone go and see the parades and even take a camera with you,” he said. “They have something there to draw people in and for tourism.

“Catholics can go and observe, they don’t have to take part. They can stay on the fringes and see how parades are conducted and make their own mind up. They don’t have to go to contentious parades.”

‘The Orange’ exhibition runs from June 20 to July 26 [closed from July 10 - July 20 July] in the Red Barn Gallery in Belfast.