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Violence in Northern Ireland: Not warranted, but expected

Meghan Murphy-Gill| comments | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
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A few months ago, I flipped through Chicago photographer David Schalliol's remarkable photos of the Orange Order's annual march last year, the same one that incited sectarian violence just this week. Schalliol does an excellent job of letting the scene speak for itself, and as I viewed the images, I felt indignant and angry, but also surprised that we don't hear more about violence protests every year. A violent response is certainly never warranted, but it certainly should be expected.

According to the Washington Post, 40 police offers were injured yesterday after as many as 250 "Catholic teens" (though, I doubt they were all detained and questioned about their religious beliefs) pelted law enforcement with "Molotov cocktails, paving stones, wood planks and even stolen furniture."

One of the most contentious issues with the Orange Order's march, which is a celebration of Protestant William of Orange's deposing of Catholic king James II on July 12, 1688, is that its route takes the Unionists through Catholic neighborhoods.

From the Washington Post:

"The politician who represents north Belfast in British Parliament, Nigel Dodds, was among the Orangemen who marched past Ardoyne to the brotherhood’s local lodge further up the same road. He said Catholics needed to accept that the major road running beside the area should be “a shared space.”

But Gerry Kelly, the area’s leading politician from the IRA-linked Sinn Fein party, said Orangemen had to stop using the route unless they could negotiate a deal with locals. The Orangemen have shunned such direct talks for decades."

Viewing Schalliol's photos, it's not difficult to see that this route coupled with the Unionist's sign slogans, would incite violence.

You can look at Schalliol's photos on Flickr, where he includes descriptions or on his website.