Monday, 4 July 2011

Money for nothing and drinks flow free

Apparently the reason that trouble flared up in East Belfast after a mini-Twelfth parade last Friday is down to an MTV party, that will be happening in November.

Yeah, you have read that right. The reason is not because tensions were already running high since the earlier trouble in the Short Strand area already. The route of this parade was in the Albertbridge Road, very close to that previous orchestrated riot by the Loyalist UVF, though this riot was not orchestrated. However, if you read the comments from the Order Grand Secretary Drew Nelson it would not be down to any of the previous excuses or reasons for rioting by loyalists, but because of a request for a late license on the Sabbath, beyond midnight to follow the MTV Awards that are coming to the city.

"We are finding that a lot of young people, more than there used to be, are on the streets not just during our parades, but at other festivals and fleadhs that happen in the province.

"More young people seem to be drinking on the streets than was formerly the case.
"My analysis is that these young people, what they think is cool and socially acceptable they don't take their lead from the Orange Order or the churches or the traditional organisations, but they take it from the media, they take it from people like MTV.
"What I think is quite damaging is the fact that the MTV awards are coming to Belfast and it has become public now that there is going to be an all-night bar licensed to sell alcohol right through to six o'clock the next morning.
"Personally I think that sets a very bad example for young people."
 Actually there is a factual error in the above there has not been an agreement to extend licences. There may however be a private party set up for after the awards. There have always been Northern Irish people who drank to excess, both George Best and Alex Higgins for example were heavy drinkers before the birth of MTV in 1981. There have been drunken fights and riots in Northern Ireland long before that time too. I've seen the empty cans alongside 'dry' Orange Parades in the past.

Look at the leaders of the Orange Order. Look at their history especially at Drumcree. They want to get their way no matter what the changing make up of the route they traditionally have walked along now is. For years senior figures would be seen at the barricades outside Portadown, shouting at police officers, demanding that it is their way and the Queen's highway and they will walk past.

Mr Nelson carries on:

"There are far more people obtaining their alcohol from supermarkets and the problem there is when it comes to consumption, there is no regulation.

"I hear stories in towns of taxis going to off-licences and getting alcohol and delivering it to teenagers and there must be older people going into the off-licences and getting it for them so this is a problem for society."

If the latter is true can he find out more, like which taxi drivers are doing it and get them reported, for supplying alcohol to underage consumers. The answer is that no of course he can't as many of the people involved in the riot on were over the legal drinking age. It was carried out following his parade. I recall the one time I got on a bus from Glasgow on the Twelfth weekend there, I felt scared because of the drink that many of the others had been consuming. Me an Ulster protestant, with family in the Orange Order felt scared because people who were over age of 18 didn't know me from Adam, and this was at 8:30 or something.

Passing the buck isn't going to deal with the problem. Look at the stance that the Orange Order takes. It is one of they want, want, want. They are constantly refusing to enter into dialogue about controversial routes and don't see the need of the parade commission. Therefore instead of working with people to come to some sort of compromise every summer (or as they call it marching season) there is going to some area of flare up.

So lets look at the root of the issues, not just try and find a new excuse shall we Mr Nelson?

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