Orange parades in Northern Ireland have been further loaded this year

The annual orange parades are held in Northern Ireland today, to commemorate the Battle of Boyne in 1690. The parades are additionally controversial this year, due to heightened tensions between Northern Ireland and England after Brexit. “There are concerns that things may get out of hand.”

Parades are held every year to commemorate the victory of the Dutch Protestant King William III at the Boyne River. In bowler hats and orange sashes, Northern Irish protesters march through the streets on drums. In the lead up to these rallies, many parts of the country were lit by bonfires. They went fairly smoothly. A good sign, because everyone is already holding their breath,” says FD reporter Joost Dauber.

Britain’s exit from the European Union

This has to do with the arrival of the customs border into the Northern Irish Sea as a result of Brexit. As a result, Great Britain left the European Customs Union, but Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, is in fact still subject to EU rules. A portion of the Northern Irish population, so attached to British identity, is not happy about it. Not only do they feel like Boris Johnson threw them under the bus, but they have also become second-class citizens of their own country,” said Daubert.

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This is not the only reason for rising tensions in the country. A census was taken this year, and Catholics are expected to be in the majority for the first time. The election is next year, and it looks like the prime minister will come from Sinn Fein, formerly the political wing of the IRA. This puts additional pressure on Protestants, making the orange marches even more significant,” Dobber explains.

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Northern Ireland’s politics also interfere with the Orange Marches. Dobber: “Politicians like to show themselves at bonfires. In recent days, politicians have gone to bonfires to protest for or against. They play along, and they see it as a kind of campaign.”

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