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Perplexing parades

Everyone loves a parade, but not all parades make this grade in the North. First up, it should be stated that parading is not the sole preserve of the Orange Order, the Apprentice Boys or other loyal institutions. Republicans and nationalists have their parades too. Additionally, there are parades and festivals that are not linked to the familiar standard bearers of the political divide.

Some parades are not only linked, they virtually depend for their existence on division and, by taking place, exacerbate same. It's a classic vicious circle.

The annual Drumcree parade outside Portadown has been a particular headline maker in the last couple of decades. Part of its "traditional" route incorporates the nationalist Garvaghy Road and, not surprisingly, local residents have long objected to what they see as the triumphalist aspect to this particular march.

As often as not it's the route of a parade that sparks the greatest problems. Residents have clashed with organizers who place near absolute store in repeating their precise line of march year in and year out.

As with so much that has been the subject of negotiation in Northern Ireland in recent years, the issue of contentious parades, if it is to be neutralized and placed in line with the broader peace, will require give and take on the part of everybody who is truly committed to that same peace. We can only hope.

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