The influence of Orange Parades on the double minority perception of the Protestant and Catholic communities in Northern Ireland.
A thesis submitted to the Humanities Faculty of Utrecht University in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree in Bachelor of Arts in Political History & International Relations.
The Twelfth of July
Petrol bombs, water canons, burning cars and injured officers dominated the news from Northern Ireland last summer, when the yearly Orange parades took the streets during the twelfth of July. Despite the presence of over 4,000 police officers, rioting led to violent clashes. ‘Police officers were being knocked senseless at the front line as they were assaulted with bricks, bottles, stones and sticks and even with ceremonial swords wielded by Orangemen,’ the Irish Times reported (16 July 2013), in an article titled ‘Sadly predictable Twelfth rioting’. Sadly predictable, as violent conflicts over parades have increased since the 1998 peace agreement that marked ‘the troubles’, the 30 years of conflict in Northern Ireland (Ross 2007, Jarman 1997, Bryan 2000). During the Orange parades, the Protestants celebrate their victory in the Battle of Boyne in 1690, during which the Protestant William III defeated Catholic King James II. Although the vast majority of these parades go by peacefully, conflict is usually triggered when Orangemen want to pass through predominantly Catholic neighbourhoods, whose inhabitants oppose the, in their eyes, triumphalist marches. With the few parades that do escalate into rioting, the Orange parades have proven to be a controversial issue that continue to pose a threat to Northern Irelands ‘fragile peace’ (Mac Ginty, Muldoon & Ferguson 2007, Cairns & Darby 1998, Stapleton & Wilson 2005). This is illustrated by the fact that the US diplomat Richard Haass has been recently enlisted ‘to broker a settlement on contentious issues which have sparked sectarian divisions’, thus far without any result, as was reported in the Belfast Telegraph (January 7, 2014). As Jarman (2003, 102) has noted, ‘symbolic and ritual events can take on a hitherto unexpected significance, particularly when they become challenged or threatened by an ethnic rival’. Why then, do the Orange Parades continue to pose a threat to Northern Irelands peace process?
Catholics vs Protestants
Although the conflict in Northern Ireland has commonly been described as a clash between Catholics and Protestants, the conflict itself not religious (Cairns 2000). That is, the names ‘Catholics’ and ‘Protestants’ are used to distinguish both groups from each, but do not indicate competing religious systems or different levels of religiosity (McKeown 2013). Indeed, as E. Cairns and Darby (1998) say, there are Catholics and Protestants who identify themselves as belonging to one of the two groups, without ever attending church. Since almost every inhabitant of Northern Ireland identifies with one of the two groups and are therefore the most all-encompassing, it are these labels that are used to label the two communities.
Instead of being religious, the conflict rests on differing ethnic identities that are based on competing national and political ideologies (McKeown 2013). The main question dividing the two social groups is namely whether Northern Ireland should be part of Great-Britain, or the Republic of Ireland. On the one hand, the Protestant Unionist community of Northern Ireland sees itself as British and generally supports Unionism, an ideology that aims to preserve the political, legal and economical union between Ulster1 and Great Britain. The Catholic Nationalist community on the other hand, describes itself as part of the larger nation of the island of Ireland. The nationalists strive for the reunification of Ulster with the Republic of Ireland (Tonge 2002).
A double minority
Since the partition of Ireland meant that the Protestant community formed the majority in Northern Ireland, the relation between the communities has been interpreted as ‘Unionist-majority’ versus ‘Nationalist-minority’ (Stevenson, Condor and Abell 2007, 106). However, it is also argued that both groups could be a minority, depending on the frame that is used. That is, the Protestants constitute the majority in Northern Ireland, but they would be outnumbered by the total amount of Catholics in the larger island of Ireland, which makes them both into a minority. Or, as Jackson (1972, 4) stated: ‘The inevitable and disastrous result [of the creation of Northern Ireland] was the advent of a ruling establishment with the reins of power in its hands but acting under the stresses of a besieged minority’. The fact that this demographical threat is more perceived that real is not important, after all, ‘-that what people believe about population trends is more significant than the actual trends themselves’ (Poole 1983, 159). This model has been described as a ‘double minority’ (Whyte 1991, FitzGerald 1988). Harold Jackson, a British journalist who analysed the outbreak of the troubles, was one of the firsts to observe that since the Unionist Protestants felt insecure about British support for the union with Ulster, they felt a minority in the island of Ireland. So, the double minority model implies that both communities feel threatened by the other, ‘that threatened groups are liable and hypersensitive; and that in Northern Ireland both groups display these characteristics’ (Whyte 1991, 100). Why do both communities feel threatened by the other? Hence, how do they see themselves as a minority?
In this thesis, I will research disputed nature of the Orange parades in relation to the double minority model. Therefore the main question is, how have the Orange parades affected the double minority perception of the Catholic and Protestant communities in Northern Ireland? First I will explain what Orange parades are, and then I will turn to theoretical approach that I will use to research the main question.
II. The Orange Parades
Battle of the Boyne
The Orange parades are held each year on the 12th of July, when the Protestant community commemorates the victory of Protestant William III over Catholic King James II. That is, fearing a Catholic takeover of power in the 17th century, the Dutch Stadtholder William III led a military expedition against his Roman Catholic rival, King James II. The two armies met in Ireland at the river Boyne on July 1st, 1690 but the battle remained inconclusive until the 12th of July the following year, when William of Orange won the Battle of Aughrim and affirmed protestant domination over Ireland. Although ‘the Boyne’ did not actually take place on the date it is commemorated, it nevertheless became remembered as key event celebrating Protestant victory and reminding of ‘Catholic treachery’ (Jarman 1997, 34).
1 Ulster is the most northern province of the island of Ireland. Six of the nine counties that comprise Ulster are part of Northern Ireland, the other three are part of the Republic of Ireland. Since Northern Ireland was only created in 1921, I will use ‘Ulster’ to refer to the geographical area that comprises Northern Ireland before it was established.
Despite increasing criticism, the Twelfth still proves to be the most important commemoration to Northern Irish Protestants, and is celebrated widely in Northern Ireland as an expression of Protestant identity. On the morning of the Twelfth, the streets in Protestant working-class areas are coloured red, white an blue and from the windows the Union Jack, Northern Irish and Scottish flags are waving. Orange arches, often metal constructions covered with Unionist and Orange symbols, have been erected over roads, for the Orange parades to pass under (Bryan 2000). The parades are carried out by different organisations, such as the Royal Black Institution, the Apprentice Boys of Derry, and the Orange Institution, that gave name to the annual parades. Since the latter is the largest and most influential, and organises the majority of the parades, I will focus on this organisation. The Institution, also called Orange Order, is a democratic male organisation founded in 1795, that approximately counts 40,000 members in Northern Ireland (Fraser 1998). The Order is hierarchically ordered into different lodges, of which the district lodge is the basic unit and Grand Lodge of Ireland is the highest formal authority (Fraser 1998). During the Twelfth, each district organises a large parade at which all the lodges of the district join. The Orangemen walk in formal lines along an established route, each lodge accompanied by a hired marching band. Most Orangemen are dressed in suits or uniform, and all wear an orange coloured collarette in the shape of a V around their shoulders. Each lodge carries Orange flags or the Union Jack and their own banner depicting biblical events, the victory of King William at the Boyne or political slogans such as ‘No Surrender’ and ‘This we will maintain’ (Racioppi & O’Sullivan See 2000, 11).
The parades follow a ‘traditional’ route, that the Orangemen say to have paraded along for centuries. However, some of these routes pass through Catholic areas, and it is exactly in these cases that tensions run high and violence erupts. Among the heavily contested parades that lead to disruptions each year, are the parades that pass through Garvaghy Road, the Lower Ormeau Road in Belfast, and the route to the Drumcree church in the town of Portadown. These neighbourhoods used to be scarcely inhabited or Catholic areas, but have become Catholic areas due to a change in demography in the past decennia. Since the 1990s, Catholic residents actively expressed opposition to the parades by uniting themselves in residents coalitions, that try to re-route the parades that go through their neighbourhoods. Whereas the Catholic Nationalists used to resort to violence to demonstrate against the parades; in recent years the Protestant Unionists have also resorted to violence when their parades were opposed by the resident coalitions or restricted by the Parades Commission, the neutral body that regulates the parades. During the summer of 2013 for instance, the decision of the Parades Commission to block Orangemen from parading on a street that separates Nationalist Catholic from Loyalist Protestant neighbourhoods, resulted in five nights of rioting by the Loyalists (Murphy 2013).
II. Theoretical Approach
As stated above, the conflict in Northern Ireland has been described as a double minority model, which is a psychological way of looking at the conflict. In its core lies the idea that minorities feel threatened and that in the case of Northern Ireland, both communities feel threatened by the other. Since the term ‘minority’ implies a number of people that is smaller than the ‘majority’, one inevitable threat is demographical. The fact that this demographical threat is more perceived that real is not important, after all, ‘-that what people believe about population trends is more significant than the actual trends themselves’ (Poole 1983, 159). Hence, the perceiving of being threatened is just as important as actually being threatened, since it is what groups perceive, that makes them react accordingly.
However, the situation has also been described as a double majority as well (Cairns 1989), since both groups could also constitute a majority: the Protestants in Ulster, and the Catholics in the larger context of Ireland. This view, however, does not explain why both communities act so emotionally, since being part of a majority would suggest a more relaxed attitude towards the other (Whyte 1991, 100-101). Besides, the term ‘triple minority’ has also been suggested, since the Protestant could be counted as a minority twice: both in Ulster and within the United Kingdom (Poole 1983, Kennedy 1988 and Boal and Douglas, 1982). Hence, they fear not only the perceived Irish hostility, but ‘also the possible unreliability of the British government’ (Poole 1983, 158). This approach however also includes the rest of the United Kingdom, whereas the research will be confined to the Protestant and Catholic communities in Northern Ireland. Therefore the focus will not be on the triple minority, but on the double minority in Ulster instead.
The first question that arises is that why it is even important whether to be a minority or a majority, especially in the case of Northern Ireland, where the demographical difference between both is small and getting even smaller. Effectively, as Poole has stated, the difference between who forms the majority and who the minority is crucial, since that small difference decides who has the political power and thus can determine the political boundaries. ‘Therefore, the existence of a majority, regardless of how small, provides a precondition for political violence if that majority is frustrated by having its ‘democratically justified’ objectives thwarted’ (Poole 1983, 179). Subsequent questions to be posed are why both communities perceive themselves as the minority, hence, why they feel threatened, and how the Orange parades have amounted to the perceived feeling of threat?
Integrated threat theory
To research these questions, I will use the integrated threat theory, a theory that was introduced by psychologist Walter Stephan in 2000 to research the role threat plays in intergroup relations. Intergroup threat arises ‘when one group’s actions, beliefs, or characteristics challenge the goal attainment or well-being of another group’ (Riek, Mania and Gaertner 2006, 336).
According to the integrated threat theory, there are four types of threats that causes prejudice, conflict, resentment and fear (Stephan & Renfro 2002, 202). These four aspects are realistic threat, symbolic threat, intergroup anxiety and negative stereotyping. In the original theory, realistic and symbolic threat take place at group level, whereas the latter two are experienced at individual level. Since I will consider the impact of Orange parades on group level, I will confine to the former two aspects of threat. This psychological approach is by no means all-encompassing and focusses mainly on the feelings of threat and insecurity of both communities.
To begin with, realistic threat endangers the welfare, political or economical power of the in-group or poses a threat to its physical wellbeing (Stephan & Renfro 2002, 192). In other words, it concerns a tangible threat that the out-group poses to the in-group. Albeit realistic, the threat does not have to be actual, after all: ‘the perception of threat can lead to prejudice, regardless of whether or not the threat is ‘real” (Stephan & Stephan 2000, 25). What are the perceived realistic threats to both the Catholic and the Protestant community, caused by the dichotomised other? By researching this question, I will be able to identify why and how both communities see themselves as a minority.
Secondly, a feeling of threat does not only arise from ‘material’ threat, but also from a more abstract sort of threat, namely symbolic threat. This poses a perceived danger to the value system, belief system of worldview of the in-group which is deemed morally rightful (2000, 25). Therefore symbolic threats ‘concern the language itself, but they also include religion, cultural values, belief systems, ideology, philosophy, morality, and differing world views’ (Stephan & Renfro 2002, 198), in short, the non-tangible threats. Symbolic threat is similar to earlier formulated theories such as symbolic racism and symbolic threat theory, since it concerns intangible conflicting values and cultural differences more than tangible conflicting goals (Riek, Mania, Gaertner 2006, 337-38). Similar to realistic threats, symbolic threats do not have to be real to be perceived as threatening. This leads to the question, how do Orange parades pose a symbolic threat to the Catholic community? And why does opposition to parades lead to violent behaviour on part of the Protestant community?
To come to an understanding of the second question, I will need to research why oppositions against Orange parades are given such importance. As stated above, Orange parades are an expression of Ulster Protestant identity. It might be illuminating to take a closer look at the relevance of the Orange parades to the Protestant identity. That is, in the integrated threat theory Stephan and Renfro suggest that when a symbol that marks the identity of a group is threatened, it is the group itself that feels threatened. Or, in their own words: ‘threats to the symbol system of the group go to the very core of group identity – the way in which the group defines itself and the symbols it chooses to mark that identity’ (2002, 198). This leads to the question; How did the parades become an ‘essential’ part of Protestant group identity? And why is opposition to the parades considered an attack on Protestant identity?
In short, to research how the communities perceive themselves as a minority, I will use the integrated threat theory. First I will see how the Catholic minority feels realistically threatened by the Protestants, by briefly looking at the competition over land and power. Secondly, I will explore how the Protestant majority has historically felt threatened by the Catholic minority, and how the power balance and demography have recently altered. Then I will turn to the second part, namely the Orange parades. To research their influence on the feelings of insecurity and threat, I will shortly look at their controversial nature. Then, to see why decisions to re-route parades are met with rioting and why they are a pinpoint in the relation between the two communities, I will research the importance of parading to Ulster Protestants. After that I will go over to the symbolic threats that the Orange parades pose to Catholics, and the symbolic threat that oppositions to the parades pose to Protestants.
IV. Realistic threats to the Catholics
The colonisation of Ulster
Many scholars consider the conflict to go back to the seventeenth century (Darby 1995, Tonge 2002, Whyte 1991). Walker (1992, 56) even states that ‘hostility between Catholics and Protestants has been an incorrigible feature of life in the North since the Plantation’. ‘The Plantation’ is the colonisation of Ulster by Great-Britain. The first British control in Ulster occurred in 1170, when Henry II invaded Dublin and established a small area of control around the city. Its inhabitants adopted the English language and customs, but until the 16th century they failed to control larger parts of the island, which was largely autonomous but disunited under several Gaelic chiefs (Tonge 2002, 4). After gaining English control over the island by military conquest of Elizabeth I armies, Ulster was confiscated and the land distributed amongst colonists from England and Wales, but predominantly from Scotland, due to the close proximity to Ulster (2002, 4).
The influx of colonists from the United Kingdom to Ulster was based on the idea of the English government to replace the native, catholic population by the British. This proved difficult, since they failed to find enough citizens who wanted to emigrate. As many native Irish remained in the area, the colonisation policy resulted in a fragmented population (Jarman 1997, 31). The native population was faced with a foreign occupational force, who had a different language, religion and culture (Darby 1995, 581). That is, the newcomers were Protestant, whereas the native Irish were predominantly Catholic. More importantly, the colonisation caused resentment amongst the natives, since they were being expelled from their towns and had to move to the fringes of the lands (Tonge 2002). So the two groups differed in religious and cultural ways, as well as in their access to territory. John Darby concludes that the origin of the current conflict had been laid out within fifty years of the beginning of the Ulster plantation: ‘the same territory was occupied, by two hostile groups, one believing that the land had been usurped and the other believing that their tenure was constantly under threat of rebellion’ (1995, 581).
Catholic marginalization Before the arrival of the Protestant settlers, Ireland was ‘economically underdeveloped and politically fragmented’ (Ruane & Todd 1996, 26). Due to the British colonisation, the economy prospered and effective rule was established (1996, 27). Yet the result of the colonisation was the establishment of a dominant class of initial settlers, mostly Protestant, who held the political and economical positions in Ireland. In the 18th century for example, the colonists had 95% of the land, and formed a majority in Ulster, whereas they were a minority in south of Ireland (Cairns & Darby 1998, 755). The Catholic population faced a ‘sense of loss of those who saw themselves as the true and native Irish, deprived of their property and position, on whom and alien culture and language had been imposed’ (Ruane & Todd 1996, 26). The status quo was maintained through the confiscation of lands and goods and legal restrictions were imposed on Catholic economic, cultural and political life (1996, 32). In short, the Protestant minority ruled over Ireland and its marginalised Catholic majority.
After the partition in 1920, Northern Ireland was still a ‘striking example of uneven development’ (Rowthorn 1981, 1) The Catholics, who then constituted the minority in Northern Ireland, were geographically marginalised and faced discrimination in education, housing, employment and political life (Rowthorn 1981, 3). Catholics were alienated from local and provincial government through gerrymandering, which involved the manipulation of electoral boundaries so Protestants constituted the representational majority, even in districts where they formed a minority (Tonge 2002, 22). In housing, Catholics faced discrimination in a sense that they were less likely to be rehoused, although the Catholic population after the Second World War lived in slum dwellings, which resulted in the territorial segregation. To give an illustration of the level of discrimination, of the total amount of 1048 houses that was built in county Fermanagh between 1945 and 1967, only 18% was given to Catholics, although they constituted the majority in the region (Tonge 2002, 23). The marginalization in employment was closely tight to the territorial segregation in Northern Ireland: most industries were located in the east , where the majority was Protestant, while the Catholics used to inhabit the more rural and less developed west (Tonge 2002, 22, Rowthorn 1981, 2). Besides, the local bourgeoisie was Protestant, who monopolised the better jobs (Rowthorn 1981,2), so the status quo maintained.
These both institutionalised and informal ways of discrimination led the Catholics to be a marginalised minority, that was excluded from having political influence. They were faced with realistic threats such as competition over land, economical and political power. Since the civil right movement in 1960s however this balance has been altering in favour of the Catholics, who gained more political and cultural power, especially with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. The Catholic resurgence and the loss of Protestant power will be further described below.
V. Realistic threats to Protestants
Nationalist rebellions As quoted above, with the colonisation of Ulster, the division between has been lied out, between one group believing that their territory had been taken over, and the other fearing that they were under constant threat of rebellion (Darby 1995, 581). Although the threat was often more perceived than real, the history of Northern Ireland has been marked by uprises of Nationalists. Before the attempt of Catholic James II to take the throne, which led to the Battle of Boyne, the 17th century witnessed two Catholic uprises: the 1641 rebellion and the 1605 Gunpowder Plot, during which a catholic group attempted to assassinate Protestant King James I. These rebellions formed prove of ‘Catholic treachery’ (Jarman 1997, 34) and unreliability.2
The feeling of nationalist Catholic threat was exacerbated by the idea that Nationalist Catholics never really accepted the partition of Ireland. After the Irish War of Independence (1919-1920), it was decided that the island would be divided in two: the six predominantly Protestant counties would become Northern Ireland under British rule, and the 26 other counties would be united in the Irish Free State, which would still be a part of the British Commonwealth. The Ulster protestants had been fearing the Nationalist strive for Home Rule, and had made sure that with an eventual partition of Ireland, they would not become part of Catholic Ireland (Darby 1995, 581). The eventual partition was therefore a demographic compromise, to ensure a Protestant majority in Northern Ireland (1995, 581). The establishment of Northern Ireland was therefore the most obvious realistic threat, since the Catholic minority resented the ‘unlawful and undemocratic’ (Tonge 2002, 12) separation of Ireland and saw it as the creation of an artificial state. The union between Northern Ireland and Great-Britain could only be realised by permanent emergency legislation and constant vigilance (Cairns & Darby 1998, 755). The threat of Catholic resistance against the separation also became a physical threat by the IRA campaigns in the 1920s, 40s and 50s.
In this newly founded Northern Ireland, the Orange Institution reached its peak of political and cultural power (Stapleton & Wilson 2005, 636), and was, as Cairns and Smyth formulate it, ‘the de facto state culture’ (2002, 152). The Orange Order almost coincided with the political command, since almost all politicians were Orangemen (Racioppi & O’Sullivan See 2000, 7). Public space was dominated by unionist protestants (Jarman 2003, 94) and their hegemonic position was guaranteed by the gerrymandering of electoral boundaries, manipulation of the legal system and a preferential treatment in employment and housing (2000, 7).
2 Nevertheless, the distinctions were not really clear-cut until the 19th century. Until then, there were (and still are, albeit less) Catholics supporting the union with Great Britain, and Protestants striving for an independent Ireland, such as Wolfe Tone, the grounding father of Irish Republicanism (McBride 2001).
Although unionist political power remained invariable in the 1950s, the decade nevertheless marked a resurgence of nationalist identity (Jarman 1997, 73). This was, amongst other, the result of a changing social policy after the Second World War. The introduction of free secondary education culminated in the emergence of a Catholic middle class (Darby 1995, 582), that claimed to be discriminated by Protestants in work, schooling, housing and elections (McKeown 2013, 4). Inspired by the civil rights movement in the United States, the catholic nationalists expressed the dissatisfaction with their secondary position by protest marches and sit-ins. The civil rights campaign that resulted in the 1960s was followed a rapid escalation into violence. British troops were induced, and the start of a bombing campaign against the army by the provisional IRA marked in 1969 the beginning of the troubles.
The first year was characterised by rioting between Catholics and Protestants, whereas the period from 1970 until 1998 was marked by a ‘low intensity three-cornered conflict between the british army and a militarised police force, the IRA and smaller pro-united ireland militant groups, and pro-UK militant groups’ (Mac Ginty, Muldoon and Ferguson 2007, 4). Of course the blame-question will not be handled here, but it remains clear that the 30 years during troubles were the open expression physical threat, both to Catholics and Protestants. Although the conflict was of low intensity and open violence relatively sporadic, the troubles left its traces in many families, since on a population of 1,5 million, more than 3,000 people died (Cairns & Darby 1998, 754).
Decline in power
The end of the troubles saw the fracturing of the Orange Order and a decline in Protestant power. That is, with the beginning of direct rule from London in 1972 instead of rule from Stormont, the Parliament of Northern Ireland. The ‘Orange state’ had officially failed (Bryan 1997, 382). Apart from being a political disappointment, the troubles also meant a profound change in the relationship between the Orange Institution and the state. That is, albeit the Order was still powerful, its close connection to the state was not as self-evident as before. The Orange parades had a more aggressive and oppositional nature, and became closer related to Protestant paramilitary forces. As a result, the Orange Parades on the Twelfth were no longer ‘an expression of the state’ (Bryan 2000, 156-157). Orangeism had never been a single unit, but during the Troubles class frictions became evident. Whereas the Orange Institution used to have 100,000 members in Northern Ireland, its membership at the time of the Agreement was not supposed to surmount 43,000 (Fraser 1998, 74). This decline in the Orange Order led to feelings of insecurity, since the Order performed a unifying function within the Protestant community. After all, Protestant community never formed a bloc like the Catholics, since they were divided religiously. The Orange Order unified these different denominations in their political goal to counter Catholic opposition to the union with Great Britain.
Aside from the decline of importance of the Orange Order, the end of the Troubles also marked the erosion of the political and economical dominance of the Protestant community. The economical decline was mostly due to the disappearance of the industrial sectors in which the Protestant community used to prosper (Cairns & Smyth 2002, 156). They now see themselves as victims of political change, in a ‘ typical post-colonial reversal of fortune’ (2002, 156). Or, as MacGinty states, it marked the ‘juxtaposition of greater catholic confidence with Protestant fragmentation and insecurity’ (MacGinty,Muldoon, Ferguson 2007, 9). This insecurity was exacerbated by the well-known demographical threat. Since the foundation of Northern Ireland, the Protestant majority feared to be outnumbered by the Catholic minority. These anxieties become a minority are not uncommon, since ‘half the insecurity of the majority position stems from the basic anxieties which haunts the potential minority’ (Stewart 1977, 162).
Although traditionally the Catholic birthrates were equaled by high emigration rates, the Catholic population has been increasing steadily since the 1930s (Cairns & Darby 1998, 754). In the most recent consensus, 41 % of the residents of Northern Ireland said to identify with the Catholic religion (irrespective of actual belief and practice), and 42% with Protestant religion (2011 NISRA detailed characteristic statistic bulletin, 27). At the previous census, in 2001, this relation was 40% Catholic and 46% Protestant. The Protestants form a more divided group that the Catholics: it is comprised of the Presbyterian Church (19%), the Church of Ireland (14%) and the Methodist Church (3%) (NISRA (2011 NISRA detailed characteristic statistic bulletin:27). Most notably from the statistics is that the rate of Protestants has declined with 4% in 10 years time, whereas the Catholic community has seen a growth of 1%. The balance between minority-majority status has become increasingly important, since the 1998 Agreement included the premise that ‘Northern Irelands constitutional status could only change if a majority of the population wanted change’ (Mac Ginty, Muldoon, Ferguson 2007, 6-7). This contends that if the majority of Northern Ireland wishes to see the country reunified with Ireland, it will happen accordingly.
So, as Cairns & Smyth conclude, ‘for many protestants in NI, the world has been turned upside down, as the twin forces of external economic and social change interact with the erosion of their traditional economic and cultural dominance over the nationalist population’ (2002, 156).
VI. Orange parades as focal point between two communities
Treachery and violence
The first Williamite parade was held several months after the Battle of Boyne, with a military parade in Dublin. This parade was not like the symbolic rituals events the Twelfth later became, but was held to popularise the image of King William as a non-sectarian figure. It was celebrated on the birthday of the King, instead of the 12th of July. So, instead of celebrating him as the conqueror of Catholic Ireland, his accession to the throne was promoted ‘to signify a victory for freedom of speech, tolerance and parliamentary democracy over arbitrary and autocratic government’ (Jarman 1997, 32). However, the parade was bestowed with a symbolic commemorative meaning, since it coincided with the commemoration of two catholic rebellions of the 17th century. Hence, the period became a commemoration of the enduring threat of ‘Catholic treachery’ (1997, 34) and a celebration of the Protestant victory. Therefore, what is remembered is not only the battle of the Boyne, but also the two other signs of Catholic treachery.
Since the first Orange parade by the Orange Institution in 1796, they have been surrounded by violent clashes and upheaval. The second Orange parade for example, resulted in fourteen deaths (Jarman 1997, 47). The first decades of the 19th century were marked by an increase of sectarian violence surrounding the parades. Due to the violent nature of the 1818 parades, the Grand Orange Lodge even unsuccessfully tried banning the parades, but the culture of parading had become a popular way to display protestant control over the territory and express Protestant unity (Racioppi & O’Sullivan See 2000, 7).
Orange parades proved a perpetual flashpoint, whenever Catholic rights were at stake (Jarman 2003, 47). Especially when ‘the use of parades as a means of defining collective identity and displaying collective political strength has coincided with periods of political or constitutional tension and change’, the parades led to violent clashes. This was for example during the era of the United Irishmen in the 18th century, a republican revolutionary organisation, O’Connell reform campaign in 1820s and 30s, the strive for Home Rule in 19th and 20th century, and the civil rights movement in 1960s (Jarman 2003, 94). Although during all these periods the Orange parades have been disputed, they have become a central point of contention since the peace negotiations in the 19990s. As Cairns (2000, 443) suggests, the Orange parades might have become so contested in the recent decades, since they have become a substitute for the ‘naked violence’ that occurred during the troubles. The period of peace talks shows a large increase in the number of parades, from 2,120 annual parades in 1985 to 3,500 in 1995 (Fraser 1998, 72). After all, Protestants use parades as a ‘venue for political action against change in the Union’ (Racioppi & O’Sullivan See 2000, 8), and during the peace talks of the 1990s, a change in the Union was emerging.
VII. The Orange parades as markers of Unionist Protestant identity.
Orange Order According to Walker (1992, 57), the Battle of the Boyne had mostly been forgotten, only to be re-discovered as an important feature of Protestant history in the end of the nineteenth century. The Orange Order played a decisive role in the establishment of Orange parading as an inherent feature of Unionist Protestant identity. The Order was founded in 1795 in County Armagh, during a period of sectarian rural clashes between the Protestant Peep O’Day Boys and the Catholic Defenders. After the battle of Diamond, a violent and deathly clash between both bands that was won by the Peep O’Day Boys, the winning group decided to establish an organisation that would defend against any future Catholic attacks: the Orange Institution. (Bryan 2000, 32-33). Thus, since its establishment in the confrontation with a catholic rival groups, the Orange Order has had a sectarian and anti-Catholic character.
The Orange Institution took over the custom of parading from earlier paramilitary forces, who paraded in a military-style to display their strength. Therefore their first parade devoted to the commemoration of the Battle of the Boyne, much resembled their pseudo-military way of parading. The parades however were mostly carried out by the rural lower class, and as Jarman states, ‘always verged on the edge of legality, and often crossed the boundary into uncontrolled violence’ (1997, 27-28). In order to dispose of their scandalous image and to promote the Order as a respectable, protestant organisation, they took up one of the prime figures of Protestant heritage: King William III and his victory at the Battle of Boyne (Bryan 2000, 34). As the conflict in Northern Ireland had, since it beginning, had a highly territorial character, the parades proved a popular way to demarcate protestant territory and to show their control over the land (Racioppi & O’Sullivan See 2000, 7). More importantly, they were a way of showing ‘solidarity with neighbours and a way of displaying cultural identity and allegiance’ Jarman (1997, 56).
Nationalism and resistance
Nevertheless, since it was still a lower class minority of the fractured Protestant community, one could state that at least until the end of the 19th century, the culture of parading only reflected a small part of the protestant community in Northern Ireland, and was not yet part of protestant collective identity. Hence, as Walker (1992) argues, the ‘traditional’ Orange parades don’t date back to 1690, but had in fact, been largely forgotten. How then, did it become such an influential and emotional subject to Ulster protestants?
The 1870s and 1880s marked the resurgence and the rising nationalism of the Catholic population of the island of Ireland. Faced with marginalization and discrimination, they joined the wave of nationalism that swept over the continent, and strived for an Irish legislation and more autonomy apart from Great Britain. This movement for Home Rule went hand in hand with a revival of Catholic Irish culture, which is demonstrated for example by the formation of Gaelic Athletic Association (1884), that promotes typical Irish sports such as Gaelic Football, and the revival of Celtic literature, shown by the foundation of the Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language (1877) (Jarman 1997, 61). By emphasising the Catholic folk tradition, the Nationalists intended to form a strong identity, thereby attempting to draw a substantial boundary between them and Great-Britain.
The political demands for Home Rule, together with emergence of Catholic Nationalist culture, were perceived as a threat by the Protestant community in Ulster and led to a search to redefine their position. Not only did they have economical reasons to foster the union with Great Britain, since the link proved prosperous for the dominant group, but it had a religious component as well. That is, if the island of Ireland would indeed become independent, the Protestants of Ulster feared that they would be outnumbered by a majority of Catholics who, they feared, ‘would offer little tolerance towards protestant dissidents’ (Tonge 2002, 9).
The Protestant community in Ulster reacted to the Catholic threat by redefining their identity as an ‘antithesis of Irishness’ (Tonge 2002, 9). To counter the Nationalists attack on the union between Great Britain and Ireland, the Protestants turned precisely to that link to provide content to their identity: to Orangeism and the Orange Order, that had always fostered the union with Great Britain. Orangeism thus played important role in emergence of Ulster unionism: it ‘united social classes in town and countryside, and bound together men of different protestant ramification’ (Fraser 1998, 73). Hence, in the 1870s and 80s, Orangeism became a focal point in the identification of unionist Protestants. A way to demonstrate their identity was, indeed, by parading.
In short, parading, and especially the Orange Parade, became a popular way to demarcate protestant territory and to show their control over the land (Racioppi & O’Sullivan See 2000, 7). More importantly, they were a way of displaying allegiance and an expression of Protestant Unionist identity. After all, the parades expressed that the Protestants were ‘a community defined by its history of independence, a tradition located in Ulster and intended to stay in Ulster, come what may’ (Jarman 1997, 70). So, in the end of the 19th century, not only did Orange parades become a vehicle of opposition against Nationalist attempts to Home Rule, they provided both the content to Ulster Protestant identity and demonstrated the distinctiveness to the Irish Nationalist identity.
VIII. Symbolic threat to the Protestants, caused by opposition to the Orange parades
So, above has been described that Orangeism and Orange Parades became a focal point in Protestant Unionist identification. That the Orange parades are considered that important to Protestant identity stems from the fact that Protestantism in Ulster is ‘a singularly non-visual culture, with few outward signs or symbols by which to recall itself either to itself or to others’ (Dingley 2002, 47). That is, Catholic Nationalists can draw from a varied resource of symbols and ways to express their identity, such as the Gaelic language, art, sport and dancing. Besides, the Catholic church has a long history of visual display. The Protestant Unionists however, can only use parading as ‘an identifiable visual symbol in the world of identity politics – only here can the unionist assert his difference, his Ulster ‘Britishness” (2002, 47).
In recent years the parades have been opposed by Catholic resident groups and the Parades Commission, the neutral body that has the authority to ban or re-route parades. These attempts to prevent ‘peaceful parades’ are perceived as ‘not just an attack on the legitimate traditions and culture of a people and a denial of basic civil liberties but it is an offence against local people within the community’ (Grand Orange Lodge, 2013). Objections towards the Orange parades and appeals to re-route the parades, are perceived by the Orange Order as threats to their culture, identity and mere existence in Northern Ireland (Dingley 2002, Kurtz & Smithey 2002). This was already expressed by David Trimble, Prime Minister at at the time of the peace negotiations, who stressed that ‘we feel that our culture and identity is being crushed, while we have Irish culture rammed down out throats’ (July 12, 1995). Even though David Trimble, former Prime Minister, wrote these words over ten years ago, the image of the crushing of Protestant culture has become even more prevalent, as becomes evident in the speech of Edward Stevenson, Grand Master of the Orange Order, during the 12th of July 2013.
“Not content having subjected this province to terror and mayhem through a murderous campaign, and trying their best to rewrite history in an attempt to justify their vile actions, Republicans are now engaging in a cultural war to erode all symbols of Britishness from this part of the United Kingdom,” (July 12, 2013).
Identity and culture under threat
From ‘cultural war’ to ‘an almost daily onslaught on our British culture and heritage’ (July 13, 2013.) ; it becomes evident that the Protestant Unionist community portrays itself as a community under siege and under threat of ethnic cleansing by the Catholic republicans. An attack on parades, the expression of Ulster Protestant identity, is seen as an attack on their identity. Or, as Cairns & Smyth explain, Orangeism and Orange parades represent the identity of the participants. Therefore, ‘attempts to challenge the perceived right of orangemen to march will therefore be resisted at all costs: an ‘insult’ to Orangeism is thus interpreted as an insult to the entire protestant community’ (Cairns & Smyth 2002, 144). Hence, Jarman’s (2003, 93) observation that ‘a threat or challenge to a ritual tradition may well be considered as a threat to the survival of the collective identity itself, proves to be right in the case of the Protestant community in Northern Ireland. As Dingley (2002, 46) has noted, this fear is being exacerbated by the lack of interest shown by the media and academics to take Protestant fear seriously, whereas they do pay attention to Catholic claims to being discriminated.
Furthermore, besides perceiving attacks on Orange parades as a threat to their identity, the Ulster Protestants claim that opposition is ‘politically motivated to undermine Orange culture’ (Jarman 2003, 94). The Orange Order, for instance, holds that the complaints expressed by several Catholic resident groups are in fact orchestrated by Sinn Fein, an Irish Republican party that has historically been associated with the Provisional IRA (Fraser 1998, 81). Hence, the protest is not literally pointed at the parades, but stands for the ongoing attempts of the Republicans to reunify Northern Ireland with the Republic, ‘of perhaps involving a shift from a strategy of the ‘ballot box and armalite’ to one of ‘ballot box and street protest” (Jarman 2003, 94). After all, up until 1999 Ireland, claimed the whole island of Ireland as being one nation.
Loss of territory and power
The fear of losing territory and being incorporated into the Catholic Republic of Ireland also has its symbolic counterpart in the disputes surrounding Orange parades. That is, the small number of parades that are contentious, are those parading through predominantly Catholic neighbourhoods. One of the most notorious conflicts concerns the Drumcree conflict in the town of Portadown. The Orange Order claims its right to parade from the Drumcree church, which is the route the Orangemen used to take since the beginning of the nineteenth century. However, the area around the heavily disputed Garvaghy Road that used to be open fields, has become populated by a Catholic Nationalist community that objects to the parades. The parades have proven to be so contentious, especially in the mid-90s, since the re-routing of the parade is considered as a loss of territory (Fraser 1998, 78). Objections to the parades, and especially restrictions imposed on them by the Parades Commission, makes the Protestants feel ‘that they are being forced out of their areas, and their state is being taken over ‘the enemy or other side” (Dingley 2002, 46).
Ultimately, attacks on the Parades are seen as proof that the state is being taken over by ‘the enemy’. That is, since the Orange Order played a unifying role in the formation a protestant Ulster identity amongst Protestants of different religious denominations, such as Presbyterians, Anglicans and Methodists. Furthermore, as the Orange Order has always been closely connected to political power, and was the ‘de facto state culture’ (D. Cairns & Smyth 2002) during the Stormont years, the Orange parades were symbols of the state. Attacks on Orange parades are similarly perceived as an attack on the state itself (Dingley 2002). Or, how the District Grand Master of the Orange Institution in Drumcree said it: ‘The battle is not about Drumcee. It’s not about the Orange Order. It’s about protestant people. They used to be on their knees, now they’re on their bellies. If they don’t get up of their bellies before it’s to late, this country will be gone’ (Cairns & Smyth 2002, 156).
So, objections to Orange parades are threatening since they are perceived as an attack on Unionist Protestant identity and as attempts to culturally cleanse Northern Ireland of its Protestant culture. Besides, claims to re-route the parades that pass through Catholic neighbourhoods, are threatening because giving in to the claims would feel like giving up Protestant territory. Lastly, Orange parades were the symbol of of the Northern Irish ‘Orange’ state, and therefore an attack on the parades is perceived as an attack on the state.
XI. Symbolic threat posed to the Catholics by the Orange parades.
Past defeat Whereas the Protestant -nionists cannot seem to stress enough that the parades are a honourable tradition; the Catholic Nationalists see the parades as triumphalist and sectarian events, during which the dominant Protestant community celebrates their victory over the underdog, the Catholic community. As stated above, the Catholic community in Northern Ireland has a history of marginalization and discrimination. Despite the fact that the Catholic community in general is demographically expanding and the power balance between the two communities has been changing,(the Catholic community claim that the Orange parades are a humiliating reminder of their second-class citizenship. ‘Communities against Sectarian Parades’ for example, a newly founded residents collectivity, has written in their statement that ‘we as the residents directly affected are clearly being treated as second-class citizens in our own respective cities, towns and villages’ (June 21, 2013). Especially the unwillingness of the Orange Order to re-route the parades and to keep insisting on parading through Catholic neighbourhoods make the Catholics see the parades as an expression of dominance. Why, after all, would they insist on parading through Catholic neighbourhoods if it was not for displaying Protestant strength and supremacy?
This is especially the case with the so-called ‘blood and thunder bands’, that have grown in popularity over the last years and are known for their connections with loyalist paramilitary organisations. Bands do not form part of the Orange Institution but are hired for the occasion and are therefore difficult to control. According to Racioppi & O’ Sullivan See (2000, 19), these blood an thunder band reflect an ongoing divide within the protestant community between the respectable middle-class Orangeism and a more working-class masculine form of orange loyalism, which is more confrontational and reflected by the ‘kick the Pope’ tunes played by blood and thunder bands. One of the tunes that is always played, is ‘The Sash’, referring to the orange collarette worn by the Orangemen, and supposedly, by the men who fought the battle of Boyne. The song is dedicated to the ‘brave men’ who fought the Battle at the river Boyne, and ‘if the call should come we’ll […] cross that river once more […] and on the Twelfth I love to wear the sash my father wore’ (Racioppi & O’ Sullivan See 2000, 12). In this song, the Orangemen openly refer to the defeat of the Catholics and their willingness to ‘cross that river once more’, that is, to fight the Catholics once more. It is mostly due to these references that the parades cannot be seen as expressions of religion or culture, but is closely tight to their past defeat.
Displaying ongoing dominance
The Orange parades are seen as threatening because they display the ongoing Protestant supremacy and dominance over the Catholic minority (Dingley 2002, Stapleton & Wilson 2005). They function as a reminder of the power of Unionist protestants, or as Larsen states: ‘for Catholics the rites of the Twelfth are a demonstration of Protestant power and a proof that nothing has changed in almost three hundred years since the Boyne’ (1982, 288). Traditionally, the Catholics were excluded from visually displaying their cultural affiliation in the public sphere. Especially in the hey days of Orangeism, the decades after the partition of Ireland, all symbolic expressions of ‘Irishness’, were banned or restricted to the only Catholic areas. Events that involved the display of the Irish flag were even restricted by the police (Bryan 1997, 382). Orange parades, on the other hand, were symbols of the state and facilitated and supported by its ministers, politicians and backed by its police forces. Especially during the Stormont years of direct control between 1921 and 1972, the Orangeism was the ‘de facto state culture’ (Cairns & Smyth 2002, 152), a state against whose very existence was fought by the Nationalist Catholics. Therefore the Orange parades were seen as ‘the public expression of support for a tradition with which they cannot, and will not, identify’ (Fraser 1998, 80).
Fight over territory
Furthermore, besides reminding of a marginalised past, the parades are seen as an invasion in Catholic territory when they take the route through a predominantly Catholic area. Self-shot video’s prove illustrative on this point, for example a You Tube video shot last Twelfth in the north of Belfast. In the video, a group of some fifteen protesters of the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective have gathered on the sidewalk, holding up sign such as ‘respect our community with respect, not as second class citizens ‘ and ‘So much for your island of equals ‘. They are faced by a tight line of police officers, staring almost silently at the protesters. Then the video continues showing dozens of police jeeps and, when the Orange parades passes by, both sides of the parading men are guarded by several dozens of heavily armed riot control officers. This video portrays the claims made by the Catholic community that the parades are intimidating and disrupting their normally peaceful neighbourhoods.
These feelings have also been articulated by the Lower Ormeau Concerned Community and the Garvaghy Road Resident Coalition, since they have ‘argued for the right to live in peace, without the deep sense of fear, outrage and humiliation that consistently marked these sectarian parades through our neighbourhoods. […] Instead, due to to political expediency, unwanted sectarian marches were imposed upon our communities through the use of threats and violence by unionism and force from both the police and the British army’ (April 28, 2008). The parades, with their police and military protection, threaten the sense of security of the Catholic residents and, as Ferman (2013, 67) phrases, ‘what follows, even if it includes their own young men throwing rocks at the police, is the result of that sense of their community being invaded, the lack of respect for their culture, feelings, and physical space, and a police force that is ineffectual at best and hostile at worst. With the You Tube video in mind, one can come to an understanding why the Orange parades are perceived as an ‘invasion’ by the inhabitants of the Catholic area that parades pass through.
So, the parades are considered threatening since they remind the Catholic community to their past defeat, and to the continuing dominance of the Protestants. Besides, they are an expression of a tradition they cannot identity with. Lastly, they are threatening because the parades ‘take over the territory’.
The Battle of the Boyne took place over three hundred years, but still incites disturbances. How do the Orange parades affect the double minority perception of both communities, was the question I asked at the beginning of this thesis. To research this, I have turned to the integrated threat theory, to see in what ways the two communities feel realistic and symbolically threatened by the other, and how the Orange parades exacerbate this perceived threat.
Firstly, the Catholic community historically feels realistically threatened by the competition for land. Since the Ulster Plantation, the colonisation of Ireland, the Protestant settlers have taken over the land. This unequal settler-native relationship, combined with the economic power of the predominantly Scottish settlers, led to an unbalance in power. Although the south of Ireland was mostly Catholic, the province of Ulster had since the colonisation known a majority of Protestant settlers. Therefore the Catholic community was faced with a social group that was both superior in power, in access to land and in number. After all, the Protestant majority in Ulster ruled over the Catholic minority, who were marginalised and whose economic, cultural and political life was put under severe restrictions until the civil rights movement in the 1960s. They constituted the minority both in a demographical way, as in that they were threatened economically, politically and culturally. The Troubles however, and especially the subsequent Good Friday Agreement, has started to contribute to the end of the marginalization of Catholics and a resurgence of Catholic welfare, and political and cultural influence.
The Protestant community, on the other hand has felt, since the colonisation and the revolts in the 17th century, under constant threat of a Catholic rebellion. Throughout history and especially since the strive for Home Rule and the opposition against the creation of ‘the artificial state’ of Northern Ireland, the Protestant Unionists have seen the Catholic nationalist as the enemy within. By all means, this fear was exacerbated by the violent campaigns of the IRA and the assaults during the Troubles. Besides the sometimes perceived and sometimes physical threat that the Catholic minority imposed, the power balance has recently been altered since the Good Friday Agreement. After all, the Agreement contained the establishment of a power-sharing assembly, hence the Protestants had to leave their position of unprecedented power. Also, the Protestant community is faced with a growing Catholic community in Northern Ireland, that is about to outnumber the Protestants. So, the Protestant community feels threatened in several ways and therefore perceives itself as a minority.
So, Northern Ireland has two mayor communities of which one constituted the marginalised and oppressed minority, and the other historically feared to become a minority and is now faced with a decline in power and number, which makes the Catholic threat even more pressing. Both communities feel realistically and symbolically threatened by the other, which makes them perceive themselves as a minority. Now I will turn to the second part of my thesis, namely how the Orange parades have exacerbated these feelings of insecurity and threat.
To begin with, it must be noted that Orange parades have throughout history been a focal point in the confrontation between Catholics and Protestants. The marches have been surrounded by violent clashes and although there also have been times of peaceful parading, the possibility of escalation was always present. Especially when Catholic rights were at stake and the power balance was threatened, the parades proved a persistent point of confrontation, for example during the struggle for Home Rule and recently during the peace talks in the 1990s.
The parades contribute to the Catholic community’s feelings of threat since the parades are interpreted as a reminder of the continuing Protestant dominance and supremacy. The parades are a reminder of the heyday of Orangeism during the Stormont years, when the parades were part of the de-facto state culture that Catholics could not identify with. Especially the unwillingness of the Orange Order to re-route the parades that go through Catholic neighbourhoods is seen as proof that the Catholic residents are humiliated and viewed upon as second-class citizens. They cannot agree with Protestant demands to see the parades as an expression of Orangeist cultural identity, since the Orange parades and the Order have always had an openly political character. That is, given the origin of the popularity of the parades, they are an expression of Unionism, to which the Catholic nationalists are strongly opposed. TAnother symbolic threat that is expressed by the parades relates to the territorial aspect of the conflict. That is, by temporarily taking over the street by decorations, military and police display, the parades are seen as an invasion of Catholic territory, that the Catholic community, the everlasting underdog, cannot do anything about.
To the Protestant community on the other hand, the opposition and objection to the Orange parades are seen as threatening. To understand their fear, a closed understanding of the importance of the parades to their identity is necessary. As Stephan and Renfro (2002, 198) noted, ‘threats to the symbol system of the group go to the very core of group identity – the way in which the group defines itself and the symbols it chooses to mark that identity’ , and that might be the case of the Ulster Protestants. After all, to counter the nationalists attempts for Home Rule in the 19th century, parading was established as the expression of Protestant Unionist identity and dominance. Opposition against the parades is first of all seen as an attack on their culture and tradition, that is seen as legitimate and not offensive. Not only is it perceived as an attack, but even as a ‘daily onslaught’ on their culture. Secondly, attempts to re-route parades are seen as part of a bigger republican attempts to erase the Protestant culture, and possibly even the community, from Northern Ireland and to reunify with Ireland. This feeling of fear is exacerbated by the lack of interest shown by the media and academics. Thirdly, opposition is seen as an attack on the state itself, since Orange parades were part of the de-facto state culture during the Stormont years. Fourthly, while the Orange parades and order is attacked from the outside, the protestant community is also threatened internally. That is, the protestant community has never formed a unity as the Catholic church, but the Order performed a unifying function. Since the Troubles however the Order has lost influence and power, and has fractured the Protestant community which has led to more insecurity. And lastly, opposition to the parades reflect Protestant’s fear of losing territory. All together these fears make the Unionist protestants perceive themselves as a community under siege, and react accordingly.
So, the Catholic community has constituted the minority both demographically as in terms of marginalization. Being an oppressed minority, they have faced the most actual realistic threats. The Ulster protestants have been faced with a more perceived threat of Catholic absorption, but have been challenged what concerns the power balance and recently the fear of becoming a minority has become more actual than perceived. Against this background of a double minority, the Orange parades function as a bottleneck of past tensions and future fears. It becomes clear that the distinction between realistic and symbolic threats are not as clear cut as the integrated threat theory might suggest. In fact, it are exactly the realistic components of a symbolic Orange Parades that bestows them with such meaning, and causes such extreme reactions. After all, opposition to the parades is not only perceived as a symbolical threat in a sense that it attacks Protestant culture and identity, but it is seen as a contestation over power, politics and territory as well.
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