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​Giant bonfires to flare in N. Ireland’s skies for 11th Night celebrations (PHOTOS)

Published time: July 10, 2014 15:53
A bonfire is seen erected on the Shankill Road in West Belfast July 10, 2014 (Reuters / Cathal McNaughton)

A bonfire is seen erected on the Shankill Road in West Belfast July 10, 2014 (Reuters / Cathal McNaughton)

Protestant hardliners have been piling crates to heights of more than 80 feet in Belfast, Northern Ireland, to create massive flammable structures in a centuries-old religious celebration. The structures will be set alight at midnight on Friday.

Hundreds of fires will be started on what is known as ‘11th Night’, as the protestant groups – members of fraternal organization the ‘Orange Order’ known as ‘Orangemen’ – gather to celebrate “the Twelfth.”

The celebration commemorates the Revolution of 1688 and the victory of the Dutch Protestant King William of Orange over the Catholic King of England James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

The victory celebrations have been taking place for more than two centuries, during which Orangemen march under union flags and banners depicting a crown sitting on top of a Bible. William is regarded as a defender of their religious freedom.

Northern Irish political party, the Protestant Coalition, congratulated the constructors of the bonfires on their commitment and the dizzy heights they had achieved. They deemed one of the sites, Lanark Way, the best.

“Well done to all involved in collecting and building Lanark way bonfire - it has to be the best one in Northern Ireland and the tallest one yet - we give credit where credit is due,” the group wrote on its Facebook page.

The Lanark Way bonfire in Belfast was estimated to stand at 76 feet and has already caused some controversy after a statue of the Virgin Mary, believed to have been stolen from a memorial to a local suicide victim, was placed on the crates.

Another structure, on Belfasts’ Shankill estates is estimated to stretch more than 82 feet into the sky.

A man gestures as he climbs a bonfire on the Shankill Road in West Belfast July 10, 2014 (Reuters / Cathal McNaughton)

The event hasn’t always passed without friction, especially given Northern Ireland’s fraught sectarian past.

Last year, protesters sang anti-Catholic songs amid bottle throwing and altercations with police. The uproar resulted in at least two arrests.

The Parades Commission has already banned a return parade through an area deemed ‘contentious’ – the Ardoyne – where parades have been banned in previous years to minimize contact with Catholic communities.

Grand Secretary Drew Nelson stated on Sunday: “This year's misguided decisions by the commission have brought into sharp focus their unwillingness to stand up to persistent threats of physical force protest, or indeed violence, by nationalists and republicans opposed to our parades.”

“Protests will take place all over the country against the above decision but we would ask those who will be attending them to remain calm and keep them peaceful,” the Protestant Coalition responded in a statement on its Facebook page.

Ardoyne has been fraught with violence following Twelfth parades every year since 2009. The conflicts have involved the burning of vehicles and gunfire from IRA members.

The ongoing friction demonstrates how IRA splinter groups continue to maintain a presence despite the official disarmament in 2005 and abandonment of the 1970-1997 campaign.

Image from facebook.com

Comments (9)

 

Gary Cullen 14.07.2014 13:23

This celebration is just another way of saying we beat you Catholics and we are in control, Its a tradition of trying to rub the outcome of a battle long ago in the Catholics face. If the people spend as much time trying sort out the problem in there community's Northern Ireland wouldnt have as much trouble as they do with riots. And before the unionist supporters try to say some nonsense about the IRA. Both sides need to get over the past and work towards getting young people jobs and houses.

 

Tickety Boo 12.07.2014 20:09

Very sad to see horrible generalisations about Protestants in Ireland. I am a Protestant. I live in Northern Ireland. My family origins are Irish, not Scottish. It is ironic that half-baked half-understood stereotypes are used to dismiss a whole group of other people as bigots. If you want to see an uninformed under-educated bigot, just look in the mirror. Please don't comment on something that you haven't researched.

 

Francisco Nessman 12.07.2014 15:40

I heard these guys are descended from Scottish and even though they set up a country for Protestants, Irish catholics still outperform them in education. These guys are called hillbillies (billy boys) in America, white trash basically. Irish-Americans also have higher wage averages than Scotch-Irish-America ns. This is them polluting the entire province of Ulster like the lower class idiots they are. I hope we have a United Ireland soon, I'm Norwegian and hope for it. No one supports these Hillbilly bigots, not even mainland British people. Embarrassments of Europe. Orange trash.

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