Billy Mitchells reply
to my article on praising Feile an Phobail, he paints
an image of peace and harmony through our wee province,
where we share and enjoy each other's culture.
like Billy, was lucky enough to have been raised in
an environment which enabled me to spend many a long
summer in Greenisland and to share in many cross community
activities and still do.
what Billy Mitchell forgets to mention is the other
side of Unionist culture (I say unionist culture because
when you see our first minister David Trimble and
the Rev Ian Paisley hand in hand dancing a victorious
orange jig down an county Armagh road, you could be
forgiven for thinking that the culture of the unionist,
loyalist and the orange order were one and the same)
- the Billy Boy flute bands. After all there is nothing
so sweet as the sound of the Sash being played by
a blood and thunder flute band especially when walking
pass a Taig church.
I have described above is the only side of Protestant
culture from NI that makes it on to television screens
worldwide. Like it or not Protestant culture has being
labelled and boxed - as sectarian - ever more so since
Drumcree, and the terrible scenes at Holy Cross.
only the negative side of your community and culture
is shown by the world and local media, it stereotypes
all that community and its culture with the same brush
and the positive side of your culture is almost damaged
your culture and community are consistently hijacked
by a minority of sectarian bigots it will always be
portrayed as sectarian.
rightly points out the many positive sides of Protestant/Unionist
can confirm all that he says. As an Ulsterbus Tour
driver for 7 years I was always made welcome, should
it have been a Sunday school/church outing or driving
a lodge and band on the 12th.
Billy Hutchinson (PUP) issued a statement on the future
of education in NI. He called for integrated, co-educated,
comprehensive education. This coming from a loyalist
politician should have made headline news but was
largely ignored by the media both here and abroad.
It shows not only a progressive side of loyalist politics
but a change in the mindset of unionism.
needs to stop looking through rose tinted glasses
and see how others see them. If you take the celebrations/commemorations
of the battle of the Somme, as an example of positive
and negative aspects of the Protestant culture, three
thousand Irish men both Catholic and Protestant were
killed in a few hours and two thousand + injured;
there was not a family on the Newtownards Road who
were not touched in some way by that terrible day.
But the mini twelfth parade only remembers the Protestant
fallen, whereas the Catholic fallen (and to be honest
many from the unionist tradition would tell you the
Catholics were only there for the Half Crown, and
the many Catholic families who would/could not even
erect an headstone to their loved ones because they
would have been seen as traitors.) would have been
forgotten if it hadnt been for the Somme heritage
centre in Newtownards.
you ever get the chance of a visit to the centre you
will see the positive side of the Protestant/Orange
culture. This is one example of the culture we could
and should share and learn from.
this could be the starting point to rebuild the tarnished
image of the Orange Order and the proud Protestant,
unionist culture, and change the worlds view
of a culture driven by hate.
biggest enemy of Unionist, Orange, Loyalist or Protestant
culture and identity is itself, and its continuing
failure in front of the worlds media to highlight
their true and proud past.
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