By Sammy McNally
When the Orange Order are finished giving the board of EasyJet a good tongue lashing they may also need to consider popping into Fleet street to give the British press a piece of their mind.
… and they might also need to have a word with the tourist body Visit Belfast.
In commenting on the EasyJet furore in their on-line edition, the Daily Mail stated that (using language somewhat more akin to Sinn Fein)
“Thousands of Pro-British Protestants hold marches every July 12 in the British ruled province to mark a 1690 victory by King William of Orange that sealed Protestant domination, a tradition Catholic Irish nationalists consider provocative”
Clearly no airline can be recommending a ‘cultural’ event which more than 40% of the indigenous population find ‘provocative’ (Without providing the appropriate context).
The Independent stated that:
“In the case of this year’s parades, the disruptions included a major outbreak of violence in north Belfast in which a 16-year-old girl was injured after being dragged underneath an out-of-control car”
Closer to home, Visit Belfast, the tourist body tasked with promoting events in Ireland’s second city responded to the query:
“Can you confirm what the official policy of Visit Belfast is in relation to encouraging tourists to attend 12th July celebrations in Belfast?”
with this unconvincing reply:
“With any major event planned for the city, such as and including the 12th of July parades/celebrations, Visit Belfast provides comprehensive information for visitors and residents, on its website, blogs, consumer and industry e-zines, literature. This also includes information about OrangeFest in Belfast, parade timings and routes, visitors attraction and shop opening hours, street entertainment and up to date information on bus and rail transport.”
Visit Belfast have yet to respond to a further query as to whether their reply above means that they “promote Orangefest to tourists?”
The problem for the Orange Order is that support for their position, apart from that coming from the usual suspects (Unionist politicians) and those associated with the organisation, is thin on the ground.
The DUP’s William Humphrey stated that “The decision by EasyJet to remove an article which highlights and promotes the tourist potential of 12th July parades is an outrageous overreaction to one complaint from a blogger”.
What the Orange Order and the DUP don’t seem to realise is that EasyJet are entitled to review the suitability of events they recommend in their in-flight magazine – and that the number of people who suggested to them that they do such a review – is completely irrelevant.
Have any British politicians rushed to the defence of the Orange Order which according to Senior Orange man Dr David Hume has now suffered “demonization”?
It doesn’t seem so.
It can’t of course be ruled out that someone from the Tories or UKIP (or perhaps Kate Hoey from the Labour Party) will give some moral backing to the Orange Order in their struggle with EasyJet – but David Cameron and Nigel Farage probably wouldn’t approve.
…ironically, the people who are probably most disconcerted by the Orange Order’s leaders’ decision to do battle with EasyJet are the ordinary, decent, sensible members of the organisation who now have to witness their leadership start another campaign – like the right to march at Drumcree or the abolition of the Parades Commission – which they simply cannot win.