Few Observations and Reflections
As I have observed and reflected upon the tradition of Battle of the Boyne Day Celebrations
and other "orange" and "unionist" celebrations in Northern Ireland it is clear that in order for
those who hold such celebrations to be important culturally as a part of "heritage" to be free
several conditions must be met.
1.The Community wishing to pursue
their freedom must be willing to fight for the maintenance
of their freedoms and never retreat from their demands to march if they are prepared to march
in a non-hostile, peaceful, dignified and legal way. They can not turn around when others demand
that their freedoms be limited and they can not give up symbols, songs, music and other integral
parts of the traditions they wish to protect.
2.Those who object to the Celebration
or activity must be free to do so peacefully and in a dignified
way as is their right. They must have free access to the judicial process should they find any aspect
of the celebration or activity to be dangerous, or illegal in any way. However, they must accord
any peaceful, dignified and legal activity freedom of passage without undignified and dangerous
threats or acts.
3.Justice in all decisions relating
to processions and cultural Celebrations must be free from the
arbitrary influences of politicians. All too often decisions regarding parades rests with a politician
wishing to provide oil to the squeaking wheel rather than with a judge in a court of law and
due process. Judgment in such issues must be free from any and all political influence and
must side with the position of the celebrants who can demonstrate that their activity is safe
and legal. Additionally those wishing to demonstrate against such celebrations and activities
must also demonstrate that their activities likewise will be safe and legal and will not interfere
with the celebration or activity itself.
It is unfortunate
that within some cultures freedom's are not respected while at the
time the resolve to pursue freedom's protection to the courts has diminished. When one
group's freedom is not demanded or respected the freedoms of the whole decline. To claim
offence arbitrarily when no real danger or risk or illegal act is present is to commit an illegal
affront to the freedom of the celebrants. Such spurious claims should be examined and
tested but should no real danger, risk or illegality be found such claims should be promptly
dismissed with an appropriate fine for the complainant.
No people or
nation can be free when the celebrations which have reason and merit
such as that we have here demonstrated for the celebration of the victory at the Boyne,
can not freely proceed when they are legal and present no threat of danger.
We must all learn to accept and enjoy celebrations as celebrations and keep them from
the political arena.
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