Some people may try and pull the wool over our eyes and have us think that we no longer live in an orange state, that times have changed and we are now building a society based upon equality and mutual interest. For those of us who are struggling to survive in occupied Ireland, we know too well the orange state is alive and kicking and is still raising its ugly head.
Over the last number of weeks I have witnessed first hand the facilitation of loyalist and orange marches by the armed gunmen of the PSNI. Some of these parades were completely illegal, not lodged with the parades commission and allowed to walk through interfaces and in to nationalist areas, others were pushed through areas where they are unwelcome, in a manor of triumphalism and where other alternative routes are available.
I have seen bonfires built upon racism, sectarianism, hatred and bigotry. Thousands of images have been shown of flags and pictures being burnt but yet no one is convicted of hate crime. PSNI say evidence has been burnt, the loyalists say its culture.
Thousands of flags have been erected, many in interface and also nationalist areas, left to rot until the new batch arrives next year.
I was present at Ardoyne and watched masked loyalists chat and joke with the ‘community police’ within the PSNI before destroying their own areas. I watched as a leading member of the orange order ploughed into the crowd at Ardoyne shops, seriously injuring a young girl. The same man announced several weeks ago that the orange order would not assist the police in stewarding the 12th, paving the way for violence from the loyalist community. Despite attacks from loyalists and the orange order the Ardoyne community stood firm and would not lower itself to the level of bigots.
Over the last three years there has clearly been a huge reduction in violence coming from Ardoyne over the 12th period. This clearly strengthens the argument that with no parade there is no violence.
The question needs to be asked, what does the orange order actually bring to society? The orange order do nothing but heighten tensions, promote violence while talking out of either side of their mouth, they cosy up to loyalist death squads and use the protestant working class, they bring Belfast to a standstill, walk in areas they are not welcome and promote sectarianism, bigotry, racism, homophobia through their hatred for anything that is not protestant. The orange order is a male dominated, protestant only organisation supported by the false administrative government in Stormont and by the armed militia of the PSNI.
We all need to challenge the orange order and expose them for what they truly are. Fair play to GARC for showing leadership throughout the whole period in the Ardoyne area and helping to keep the place calm. With the support of the local community and the wider Republican community I have no doubt that GARC will see an end to orange marches past Ardoyne, one step at a time.