July 12 and the Orange Day Parade

The other day in class an allusion was made to Orange parades — something that no one really seemed to be too familiar with. It was not, however, the class’s absence of knowledge that attracted me to the topic. Likely it was an over-indulged taste for the perverse and provocative. When Professor McInerney alluded to the destruction often characteristic of these parades while coyly skirting around the specific details of such destruction my curiosity was peaked. I’m a big fan of documentary film, and in this great age of media the first thing that came to mind when searching for information on this topic was, therefore, a visual. I had in mind one particular news source — Vice. For those of you who know Vice I’m sure it comes as no surprise when I made a mental connection between it and the in-class allusion to Orange parades. Vice’s affinity for obscure research and off-the-wall reporting spanning all corners of the globe and an infinite range of social, political, and economic topics made me think that it might have done a piece on the Orange parade riots. I was right. Below I’ve included the links to two Vice videos (Parts 3 and 4 of a short, four part series on Belfast) that provide very up-front, in-your-face first hand documentation of these riots. Parts 1 and 2 of the Vice series also exist if you are curious to watch them. However they do not deal as directly with the parades themselves.

Part 3 of the series concerns itself more with the day’s preparations leading up to the actual parade, while Part 4 documents the parade itself. Tension in these clips has been caused by the Orange Order’s decision to march its parade through the predominantly Catholic district of Ardoyne in Belfast. I’ve also included a longer, BBC produced documentary if it might interest you (though speaking honestly I have not watched it).

Before watching the videos, a little background history. Orange parades are organized and sponsored by the Orange Institution (also known as the Orange Order). It is a Protestant, fraternal organization based in Belfast whose original purpose upon its founding was the commemoration of William III (William of Orange) — a Dutch Protestant king who defeated the Catholic king of England and Ireland, King James II, in the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. Both were rivals and argued a claim to the English, Scottish, and Irish thrones. The battle itself took place on July 11, 1690 according to the Gregorian calendar. Orange parades take place year-round, with the largest and most recognized of these parades traditionally taking place on July 12 in celebration of this battle and the victory of William III. Though on a certain level the parades act as platforms on which Protestants in Ireland might connect with and assert a form of their own identity, they are also, in a much more serious light as the videos will show, a reoccurring source of resounding indignation and resentment between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland.