It is this time of year again when the spectre of sectarianism and division comes to the fore in the north of Ireland. It is a time when communities, kerbstones and poles are marked and carved into territory. There are those who will be living in fear and silenced from speaking out while the rest of us are told to turn the other check in the interests of peace and stability. It is unfortunate, if perhaps somewhat inevitable, that the now annual battles around the ‘marching season’ fall along religious lines. The Orange parades are being used to test the supposed 'neutrality' of the northern regime and the PSNI in particular. The losing side in this dangerous game however is likely to be the working class, as the confrontations and the sectarian attacks that occur around the Orange marches drive people further into ‘their own’ communities.
This Tuesday we will once again witness a massive military style security operation by the paramilitary PSNI in the Ardoyne area to facilitate a Loyal Order march which is overwhelmingly rejected by the local residents on this section of the Crumlin Road in North Belfast. Recent years have been marred by police violence and intense rioting by youths in the area. The Parades Commission has ruled that the Ligoniel True Blues could pass the flashpoint near the Crumlin Road with no music, no flying of flags, and no supporters on its return leg in the evening. The commission has also agreed to a protest by one of the local residents groups Crumlin Ardoyne Residents’ Association (CARA).
As anarchists we recognise that sectarianism and bigotry cuts across both sides of the ‘divide’ and that everyone should be free from sectarian intimidation and harassment which is why we support and end to segregation in all aspects of social life. Equally we are opposed to state repression and the various strands of nationalism and unionism which offers more of the same- division and fear. Only a confident and united working class will build a better society for all.
“The reality of the Orange Order is that it is a counter-revolutionary institution set up and maintained to target not just Catholics but also 'disloyal' Protestants. It's formation and spread was encouraged by the British state in the years leading up to the 1798 rebellion precisely in order to drive a wedge between ordinary Catholics and Protestants.”(WSM pamphlet on the Orange Order & sectarianism in Ireland)