“Our Orange Feet Marched Your Streets”. The line, emblazoned on the t-shirts of the Causeway ‘Protestant Boys’ Flute Band encapsulated the spirit of those who, with devious intent, continue to insist that the town of Ballycastle is an appropriate venue for a sectarian jamboree. If it wasn’t for the sectarian nature of the whole movement, does anyone believe that these ‘super hard’ moronic individuals, dressed in their unfashionable little uniforms, would have anything to do with a parade that only rivals the ‘Village People’ for being ‘Hilariously Camp’?
The good and the great, through the Police, the Parades Commission, Council and indeed the media, will qualify the lamentable proceedings as having been a success given there was no major disturbances. This oversimplification does not give an insight to the truth, nor does it portray a holistic picture.
Apprehension, fear and anxiety are some of the words that described the local community’s thoughts leading up to and during the demonstration. When the malaise inflicted itself on the community, the despair evidenced itself in several guises. Members of the local community were assaulted; Police themselves were assaulted (Junction of Leyland Road and Market Street). Many in the Business Community had to put up with a barrage of insults from feral kids swilling larger or Alco-pops. Shop employees and staff of licensed premises took the brunt of being subject to questioning on parentage and religious persuasion in the most overstated sectarian manner. Likewise, those who were older and should have had more sense engaged in sectarian abuse of many employed on the doors of some of our fine liquor establishments. On street Alcohol Consumption married with debauchery and a heavy sprinkling of sectarianism seemed to be the prerequisite for the behaviour. All this will be ignored by the good and the great to help facilitate future generations engage in the systematic sectarian abuse of the residents of Ballycastle. But it doesn’t end there. No thought is given to those who are consciously or sub-consciously hemmed into their houses for the duration of this abominated event. A substantial number of the complaints I received on the day concerned the free movement of the local community. Again, as in previous Orange Order parades, flags and regalia of Loyalist Paramilitary Murder Gangs were all too evident as was the accompanying playing of sectarian tunes by the bands. Add to that the sight of the local UDA brigadier organising his carnal gang to March through the town, a man who was active in a series of bomb attacks on Catholic-owned businesses in the area, activities for which he was eventually imprisoned. Is this acceptable? Ballycastle has had enough!
I have no doubt that many from with in the Unionist Community will have been nauseated by what they witnessed. It is no secret that there are those within the Unionist family who would like to see the Parades moved to a suitable location. It is for them now to apply the pressure to ensure the events of last week are eradicated. The Orange Order, as the organisers, bears the responsibility for last weeks events. They must now engage with representatives of this community to bring to a swift conclusion the nonsense that is Orange Order marches in Ballycastle. The town enjoys excellent community relations and will continue to do so despite the best efforts of the Orange Order.
Already many who were the subject of assaults or abuse within the local community are insisting on having their views represented to the parades commission. I will be facilitating a meeting to highlight the serious concerns that arise from these needless Marches in Ballycastle. Community leaders, The Business Community and local residents deserve enormous credit for the professional manner they handled themselves in-spite of the unsavory events of the Twelfth. This should not be viewed as the beginning of the end but the end in itself.