I started flying across to Northern Ireland to watch July 12th parades towards the end of the 1980s. This continued through the 1990s; in fact the last Twelfth I went to over there was in 2002. I was staying in Drummore on the Galloway Rhinns and decided to spend a couple of days in Northern Ireland to soak up the atmosphere. One of the most abiding memories of that day was the unbelievably heavy downpour as the marchers and bands returned to Belfast city centre. I was drenched by the time I returned to the Holiday Inn near the Dublin Road and I had to take a hot shower and a change of clothes before venturing out again.
When I look at all the lies and propaganda spouted by Oirish nationalists pertaining to the so-called 'dark side' of Orange marching culture, I am reminded of the reputation of my favourite film, Jaws, and the effect it had on shark populations around the world. 31 years ago this classic movie was into its first month of release in the United States. Within six months it would become the, then, highest grossing Hollywood picture of all time. I have read a great deal about the what has become known as the Jaws effect. Even though I adore the film I am also acutely aware of how misrepresentative of shark behaviour it is. Sharks do not lie in wait off beaches ready to gobble up the first unsuspecting swimmer that comes by. Benchley and Spielberg gave their shark a calculating brain whereby it could premeditatingly take the lives of umpteen swimmers and, if necessary, the three men charged with hunting it down. Despite all the subsequent documentaries portraying sharks in an entirely different light, people still tell me of the fear they have in going swimming - even though they first watched scenes such as the one below more than 3 decades ago.
Why am I elaborating on my favourite movie when I should be talking about the Orange Order? Simple! I am making comparisons over the power of propaganda: in Spielberg's case it was the propaganda for the sake of promoting a very powerful movie (the effect on the reputation of sharks was unintentional); in the case of Oirish nationalists it is a systematic attempt to fatally undermine the reputation and, ergo, the existence of the Loyal Orders.
Look at the latest rant from Bigoted Bri! 'The Orange Order has been the cause of civil disorder in Ireland since its foundation.......They are the Ku Klux Klan marching through Harlem, the National Front marching along Brick Lane in London.' Having digested BB's infantile gibberish, please take a look at the picture below. It shows an Orange Order march taking place not in Belfast, Glasgow or Liverpool, but in the Togolese city of Lomé. Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the marchers all black blokes? Either they are black, or I've forgotten to take my sunglasses off. So where does your analogy to the Ku Klux Klan or the National Front stand now, Feeney me ol' mate?
I have one crucial advantage over the many trolls who will now, in all probability, flood this thread with anti-Orange or anti-McCann sentiment: a wide experience of attending Loyal Order marches. I have done so in Ulster, Scotland and in Liverpool. These are not displays of antagonistic evil, but demonstrations of Protestant culture, loyalty to the Crown and, in the case of UK parades, a commitment to the Union. The latter is the reason - the ONLY reason - why nationalists hate them so much.
So what else could we expect but criticism at the very welcome news that the OO has received £100,000 of government cash to help promote the Twelfth and make it into a tourist magnet? Schomberg House wishes to transform the 12th July into the equivalent of the Notting Hill Carnival (although since I have never read about any murders taking place on the 12th, I think the difference is already established). Nationalists are fuming. Just imagine tourists flocking over to Belfast and, after witnessing a colourful day of Unionist culture, finally realising that nationalist nay-saying is nothing more than unadulterated bigotry and spite. Good luck to the Orange.
Finally, I have one message for all those who are preparing for the event. Don't choke neighbourhoods by burning tyres at 11th night bonfires. The stench IS unpleasant. Stick to burning Irish Tricolours. It is much more enjoyable.