The riots of the past several days between catholic youths and the Orangeman is one of the most dramatic, and least discussed, repercussions of the Good Friday ceasefire and the stymieing of the Protestant hardliners power in the six counties.
Protestant Irishmen, belonging to the fraternal organization known as “The Orangemen” celebrate yearly on 12 July, also known as “The Twelfth” , marking the date of 12 July 1690 when the Protestant King of England and Wales William of Orange and his forces defeated that of his rival, Catholic Scotsman James II at the battle of Boyne, near present-day Belfast.
The Protestant’s victory there effectively sealed the fate of the last of the supporters of James II and Catholic forces’ interest in retaking the crown.
King William, a Dutchmen with little comprehension of the English language, is a celebrated figure for his unifying rule of the British Isles after what essentially was a century of revolution, misrule, and everybody’s favorite—regicide.
The violence in Belfast’s Catholic neighborhoods therefore likely isn’t the result of some mass reawakening of people’s attitude’s to any IRA loyalty-thought certainly there are people who still feel that way towards the militia. Instead, the violence ought to be understood as a failure of the peace agreements that stopped the fighting, but did nothing to address the root causes of the violence. People are angry that they live in a place where their representation itself in Parliament of the United Kingdom is a daily injustice.
I believe people should be able to live together with each other in a peaceful environment, but when the militia that acts to bring a colonial power to the bargaining table is seen as a victim, then the peace is an unjust peace that likely cant last.
People are angry. They’re angry because their economic and social livelihoods are no better 13 years later than they were in 1998. This anger, when distilled in the voices of the young, becomes an inevitable march toward violence.
To be sure, it is not the Protestant Orangemen who are victims here; no, it is the thousands of young boys and girls denied the right to their own country by a government and representatives who have given up on giving them a home and a country.
With those sorts of stakes, the only thing that surprises me is that this violence has not started earlier.
Without a nation that can provide a unifying presence, there will be no peace.
Did Good Friday doom the prospects of an united Ireland?