Observant little ...

I don't understand the answer, but I may have some ideas on the question...

where angels fear tread?

A few days back, I got the following comment to my post about last month's eruption of violence in Belfast:

As an Orangeman whose moved from Belfast to Brisbane I can easily see how those Orangemen in Belfast feel.

The question is - why are there Catholic areas. Why are there areas where Protestants are not allowed to go.

Its been an eyeopener living in Brisbane. If there were parts of Brisbane that were no-go areas for people of a certain religion - there would be riots too.

Since the author linked to the Brisbane page for the "hub of Orangeism on the net", I guess I shouldn't be surprised by the comment, but it was more that it raised a couple of more Brisbane-centric issues, or perhaps they are more global issues, that I found it interesting.

For starters, I would say that there are areas in Brisbane that are no-go areas for people of a certain religion - I certainly wouldn't want to be a traditional Muslim wandering around some parts of Brisbane. Just because they are defined more by common sense than by legislation and policemen, doesn't mean they don't exist.

But the whole thing is that there aren't riots about it. I mean, face it, Australians tend not to riot about anything. The majority of protests these days are peaceful, and while Australians may not respect police officers, they generally respect their guns! ;o)

And this is part of why I love living here. With a couple of notable exceptions, we Aussies tend to be a pretty laid-back bunch. Sure it can be hard to get a hearing for a good cause here, but it's also damn hard to start a war here. So I'll take it as it is.

A couple of more specific comments:-

- the question is not "why are there areas Protestants are not allowed to go", the question is why a march which impacts on the heightened emotion of the residents of one area should be kept out of that area when the entire place has only a tenuous peace. Organised marches in Brisbane are still regulated, they still have a police presence, they are still restricted on where they can and can't go. The right to march is not absolute in any country I can think of.

- I got the impression that Protestants could go into Catholic areas, just not en masse, carrying weapons, or with the intent to incite violence. And aren't there the same restrictions on Catholics entering Protestant areas? I was able to walk into both Protestant and Catholic areas when I was in Belfast and no-one asked me what my religion was. Perhaps this is something that the author of the above comment could clarify - exactly who would be stopping an individual person dressed in ordinary street clothes from walking into a Catholic area nowadays?

- I still don't understand why being prevented from marching in a particular area would lead to a riot. They're still allowed to march. They must know that marching through a predominantly Catholic area when the march is all about celebrating a battle that the Catholics saw as a massacre that took away their land and their rights is a recipe for disaster. It would be like a bunch of white Australians celebrating the policy that led to the stolen generation by parading through Inala.

One of the websites for the Orange Order states:-

Orange Parades follow traditional routes. Parade routes are not picked to cause offence, but by and large are main arterial routes along which successive generations of Orangemen have peacefully paraded.

So why is the route so important? If the whole thing is about celebrating the culture and heritage of the Orangemen, can't that happen without going through Catholic areas? And isn't there also an argument that the reason why these marches traditionally went through the Catholic areas was precisely because they wanted to rub the Catholic's noses in their victory? As I said, I don't get it. But then, I believe that peace is more important than a parade. It's not like these are protests trying to bring worldwide attention to a human right which is being denied. And it's not like their right to parade is being reduced in any way. It's just placing some limits upon the practice for the safety of all concerned - after all, it's often the innocent bystanders that end up hurt.

I don't take sides on the whole Northern Ireland (or north of Ireland, depending on who you talk to) thing. As far as I can see both sides have a point, and both sides are to blame for "The Troubles". The CNN website and Wikipedia both have a pretty good summary of the issues and seem to be relatively non-partisan.

Listening to: Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head


Blogger SwissToni said...

wounds that heal and cracks that fix?

amen to that....I just wish I could believe that it could happen.

7:41 am  
Blogger OLS said...

So does that make me a dewy eyed optimist, or you a cynical old pessimist? ;o)

I think it will happen when both sides see that the best outcome for the people they supposedly represent is to let go of the mistakes of the past and the pedantic rigmarole, and try to see the other person's point of view.

That's when true tolerance will happen.

I think there will always be a fringe of fantatics who won't get there, but I'm hoping that the vast majority of the population would rather see a better future for the next generation than to avenge the injuries of past generation.

Do I sound like a politician? ;o)


8:49 pm  
Blogger SwissToni said...

hey! less of the old!

dewy-eyed optimist? Hm. Not the first thing I'd describe you as. I posted something about Ian Paisley a while ago and his particular brand of bug-eyed, red-faced ranting. He annoys me on so many levels, mainly because he is so wilfully one-eyed about the whole politics of N.Ireland... but also because he derives moral authority from his titles of "doctor" and "reverend" that he bought from a bogus university in the USA. Kind of sums the whole stupid situation up for me. You're right in that I shouldn't let it annoy me, and I should believe that things will be different, but it wasn't so long ago that protestants were lining the streets hurling abuse at small children as they headed to their school, the Holy Cross Primary School, because it happened to be a catholic school in a protestant area, and apparently this upset the locals. What chance do those kids have?


(and listening to "X&Y" again has made me realise quite what a good album this is. 'In My Place' was on the radio this morning as well - that's a corking record)

6:34 pm  
Blogger OLS said...

Yeah, well, while optimistic in many ways, I generally like to think of myself as a hopeful realist when it comes to this sort of stuff. That's not to say it's true, but it's how I like to think of myself.... ;o)

And I thought I was justified in the "old" since I do believe you're the same age as me. And that makes us old! :oP

I think the whole situation is very sad (a bit like the Israel/Palestine situation), but I still believe that "The Troubles" can end.


PS I've been renewing my love affair with "Green Eyes" lately. Maybe it's a bit self-descriptive, but I do love that song.

7:21 pm  

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