Northern Ireland

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Why do the Orange Order parades cause

so much conflict in Northern Ireland

Every year the Orange Order parade march to celebrate the victory in the battle of the Boyne. This is where William of Orange from Holland (a devout Protestant) who defeated James the second (a Catholic). The parade is a formal occasion, with mainly male Protestants. They wear black bowler hats and orange tabards. They march in an orderly formation.

For more than 2000 years there have been lots of marches each year in Northern Ireland. In just one year in 1996 there were 3160 parades, 2400 being loyalist events, 230 nationalist ones and the rest being other parades. Most parades pass peacefully in a joyful occasion, but the ones that are violent are the ones that are reported on the news. 15 marches in 1996 lead to violence, including rioting, arson, injuries and deaths.

The marching season (Easter to September) has become an important indicator of the political situation. The Protestant culture is expressed through the Orange Order parade, this causes resentment and can sometimes lead to violence when the march through Catholic areas. Some Catholics just line the streets and turn their backs on the parade.

In this essay I will write about the origins and the current state of the Orange Orders. I will also write about what influences people to march. Next I will write about how events of the past have influenced people’s attitudes today, this will include events involving military, religious, political, economic, and social situations. I will also write about how the contemporary situation has also lead to conflict i.e. recent events and changes.

In 1975 a small battle took place near Armagh. A party of Catholics attacked a group of Protestants but were beaten. The group of Protestants named themselves ‘The Orange Society’ after William of Orange. The Orange Society marches every year to commemorate the 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne. The Orange society represents their identity in their march. The Orange Order is a popular movement, it has about 75000 members in Northern Ireland today. It mixes political, religious, social and cultural activities and has a powerful influence. The Orange Order parade is important for its members to march because it shows their culture and their identity to the world. They end their meeting by singing God Save the Queen; this demonstrates that they are extremely proud to be British. The Orange Order also forbids their members from marrying Catholics, this shows that they don’t like to mix with Catholics.

To answer this question I will write about the origins of the conflict and how events have lead to the bad feeling growing between the two religions. The origin of the conflict began when Henry the eighth made a break from the Catholic Church in 1534. The reason Henry the eighth formed anew religion (Protestant) was that Catholics weren’t allowed to divorce and that he wanted to divorce Catherine of Aragon. Henry the eighth changed his title from ‘Lord’ to ‘King of Ireland’. This didn’t go down well in Ireland because they didn’t want to change their religion from Catholic to Protestant. This caused fear in the Protestants because they thought France or Spain would use Ireland as a base for an invasion because they were all Catholic.

Henry’s daughter Elizabeth the first began the policy of plantation. The policy was to give loyal Protestants land in Northern Ireland (best land) and confiscate land from Catholic Irish rebels. This policy was adopted and greatly extended by James the first. In 1609 ninety leading Ulster landowners fled after the Earl of Tyrone’s rebellion was defeated, this lead to more plantations.

In 1641 there was another rebellion of which 12000 Protestants died. This caused even more resentment between Catholics and Protestants. Oliver Cromwell ended the rebellion in 1649 when he crushed the rebels. Cromwell slaughtered the two towns of Drogheda and Wexford. The Protestants now owned most of Ireland after about 11000000 acres of land was confiscated from Catholics and given to Protestants.

James the second was a Catholic and was king of England and Ireland in 1685. The catholic Irish dominated the Irish parliament and got rid of Cromwell’s ‘Act of Settlement’. This gave hope to Irish catholic of gaining power. The English parliament decided to overthrow James the second and replace him with his son-in-law William of Orange (a devout Protestant). James the second went to Ireland to raise an army. They landed in Kinsale in 1689, James laid siege to the city of Londonderry. The Protestants in this city lead by the apprentice boys, held out. This was a major setback for James because it gave time for William’s army to arrive. The apprentice boys march to this day under the slogan ‘No Surrender’. The battle of the Boyne was the end of the Irish catholic hope of gaining power.

In 1647 penal laws were introduced. The first penal law was introduced to stop Catholics having land therefore having power. The second law stopped Catholics from changing the laws peacefully e.g. they couldn’t vote, become an M P etc. The third law stopped Catholics from changing the laws violently e.g. they can’t join the army, own a gun or a horse. The last law stopped Catholics from having good careers, ambition, something to aim for, so that you can’t become anything worthwhile if you are a Catholic. These laws angered Catholics because it gave them no chance to succeed in society.

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The Great Famine was when the potato crop failed and the Protestant landowners wanted money before they gave them any crops. The Catholics paid in corn but their land went bad. This resulted in at least one million deaths. To escape the famine 1.5 million people emigrated. This caused further tension between Catholics and Protestants.

July 12th is the most important date to the Orange Order because it marks the anniversary of the victory of the Battle of the Boyne. The banner they carry has the slogan ‘No Surrender’ written across it, this shows that the Protestants are proud ...

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