The Orange Order has a cunning plan…not quite sure if it is “cunning” in the Baldrick sense of the word….or in the Blackadder sense of a fox who is Professor of Cunning at Oxford University.
Most towns have town parks. Indeed Belfast City has several. And Portadown has a town park…bounded by the nationalist Garvaghy Road and Park Road. It is in the nationalist part of the town and used mostly by nationalists/Catholics.
As “Europe” will give shed loads of money to any aul nonsense that has the words “cross community” attached to it, they (foolishly in my view) gave £6 million to Craigavon Council to upgrade th park, on the basis that it is “shared space”. “Shared Space” is one of those buzz words beloved of Conflict Resolutionists.
And yet “shared space” has little resonance in most towns which are predominantly nationalist or unionist. Is there a sense in which the Falls Park in West Belfast is “shared”? Or Raymond McCreesh Park in Newry? Or Wallace Park in Lisburn? Or Ward Park in Bangor?
So with the emphasis on “shared” …the Orange Order have applied to the Council to hold a prayer service in the Park….for a thousand people. On the night of the mini-Twelfth in Portadown, when kick-the-Pope bands will be making their regular appearance in the “shared” space that is Portadown Town Centre…..yea right?
Of course there will be no kick-the-Pope bands in Portadown Park. Just a thousand people at a prayer service. “Everyone” is welcome to attend. Nobody will be wearing collarettes and sashes…..and there will be no march or parade to the Park via the Garvaghy Road or Park Road. Just one thousand people walking in their private way to the Park…on the night of the mini-Twelfth.
What could possibly be more innocent?
There is of course an Orange angle to this. A public park, should be “shared” space…especially if funded by our European Master Race to be “shared” but the stark reality of Norn Iron is that a lot of public space is not shared at all. The Conflict Resolutionists might say that we should be sophisticated enough to be tolerant about a prayer service in a public park. How Conflict Resolutionists feel about a Catholic Mass in Woodvale Park or Victoria Park in Belfast is not known.
I hold a third viewpoint…I couldnt care less. As I have said before…the narrative about Norn Iron we are sold…Titanic, MTV Awards, Rory McIlroy, Derry City of Culture is a Big Lie.
Welcome to Portadown…where at least its honest.