The strife-torn British province of Ulster, in Northern Ireland, threatens to break out in further violence on July 13 when a parade by the Protestant Orange order through the streets of Belfast will be held despite a plea by the Westminster Government to call it off.
The strife-torn British province of Ulster, in Northern Ireland, threatens to break out in further violence on July 13 when a parade by the Protestant Orange order through the streets of Belfast will be held despite a plea by the Westminster Government to call it off. The Westminster Government fears that the Orangemen, a strongly-Protestant group, will spark more instances of Protestant-Catholic fighting of the sort which has racked the province since last year.
The Orangemen, who wear their distinctive sashes and swords at almost every gathering, are preparing for the July 13 march to commemorate the victory of William of Orange over the Catholic James II in 1690 at the battle of the Boyne. The Protestant majority in Ulster look upon the Orange parades as a fundamental right. To the Catholic minority of the province it is a provocation.
In the rioting of 1969, the Catholic minority claimed it suffered discrimination in local voting rights, which were based on property qualifications, and in employment.
A champion of the Catholics in their civil rights campaign is 23-year-old Bernadette Devlin. Miss Devlin, the youngest woman ever to sit in the Westminster Parliament, was first elected in 1969 and was re-elected in the general election of last month. She campaigned last year as a candidate of the Independent Unity Party, which is committed to uniting Ulster with Republic of Ireland, to the south.
The Protestants also produced a new leader in the militant Reverend Ian Paisley. Mr Paisley was also elected to Parliament in 1970, fighting against the Ulster Protestant Government which meets in the Parliament of Stormont. Mr paisley has branded civil rights reforms as a "sell-out to Rome."
Following the violence of last year in Londonderry and Belfast, Catholic demands forced the Ulster Government to disband the "B-Specials" of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, a primarily Protestant force which was accused of strong anti-Catholic sympathies.
In the wake of the violence, the British Army moved into Ulster, and have taken much greater part in Controlling the violence. Currently engaged in Arms searches and riot control in Belfast, they recently faced crowds in the primarily Catholic Ballymurphy Estate of Belfast.
Following a week of increased tensions and a number of deaths in clashes between crowds and British troops, the Westminster Government is acutely aware that the further confrontation arising from the emotional Orange march on Monday could well result in even more outbursts of violence of stronger intensity.