Firstly, I'd like to say that I'm delighted that events surrounding the disputed Drumcree parade passed off peacefully yesterday. However I read an interesting comment from the spokesman for the Portadown Orangemen, David Jones who said that the smaller numbers of Orangemen at Drumcree this year was a "return to the district parades of old".
What exactly does this mean? The Orangemen have asserted their "right" to march where they want regardless of the feelings of others using the defence that their parades are traditional. But it seems that Mr. Jones has let the cat out of the bag. In recent years, how could Orangemen claim that it is tradition to have thousands parading down the Garvaghy road, when they admit themselves that much smaller numbers have historically marched? The only possible conclusion is that the increased numbers at Drumcree during the late 90s had nothing to do with tradition but instead were an attempt by the Orangemen to ratchet up the pressure in an attempt to bully, threaten, bribe and intimidate in order that they get what they want.
I did a little study on the Orange Order while revising for a politics exam on identity in Ireland and I was surprised to find that the numbers of Orange Order parades increased throughout the 80s and 90s. Obviously new parade routes were being established. Are these also tradional? How long does it take to start a tradition? Or are they simply what we suspected they were all along- attempts to establish communal dominance and superiority?