Every year, it's the same old story -- "marching season" where the original LOLs, the Loyal Orange Lodges, celebrate the defeat of the Catholic James II by Protestant William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
I think we're all for parades and marches. They're fun, they're a great way for communities to get out and enjoy pomp and circumstance, buy a t-shirt, eat some street food. Who can argue?
The Orange Order argues it's a part of Northern Irish history, it's about culture (their culture), it's a way to celebrate their heritage. All good and fine if you ignore the historical component -- one which exposes the discriminatory nature of the Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland.
When these marches occur in Protestant/unionist/loyalist areas, it can be argued it is indeed about community, about celebrating history and heritage. The problem arises when they are forced down Catholic/nationalist/republican neighborhoods, where it is less about community and more about intimidation, less about a celebration of culture and more about a triumphalist display.
To draw the old, tired comparison, having an Orange Order parade forced down Garvaghy Road in Portadown or the Ardoyne is akin to having the Ku Klux Klan march in East Austin, Harlem, Compton, rural Mississippi -- there is only one purpose, and that is to remind "the natives" who is in charge -- lie down, croppy, don't get uppity, know yer place.
Years ago, comrades and I set up a website called "Orange Watch" to track Orange Order activity during marching seasons. The International Orange Watch Committee has since gone defunct, but you can still check out a short overview of Orange Order myths and facts that the IOWC came up with. As we showed, there are literally thousands of marches throughout Northern Ireland during marching season. Only a few are contentious, and those are where they are forced down Catholic/nationalist neighborhoods.
So, this year, as every year, the residents of Ardoyne have once again stood up to the bigoted Orange Order and have resisted their fascist march. Dismissing the riots as "youths vs police" demeans the core issue here, which is a triumphalist march by a bigoted fascist organisation being forced through a nationalist neighborhood, with the full force of the partitionist state siding with the bigots. It's not about culture, unless exclusion and discrimination are part of culture. And if it is, props to the defenders of Ardoyne who, each year, stand up and say "no!"....
You can view pictures of this year's riots in Ardoyne here.