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The Twelfth is the pre-eminent community festival in Northern Ireland. However, the day itself and the 'marching season' on either side of it has stirred up tension and reaction during the 'Troubles' that afflicted Ulster until recently. Some politically motivated people used the Twelfth and the parades that form a great part of it to advance their own position and to denigrate the Orange Order, the marching bands and similar cultural expressions. At times the Orange Order and some bands walked willfully and blindly into the traps that were set for them.

Happily things are turning around. Orangefest in Belfast and similar innovations in other parts of the country are bringing more of a carnival atmosphere to the Twelfth celebrations.  We at Glenwood Publications and www.the-twelfth.org.uk have been arguing for this since 2001 and welcome these long overdue changes

Sadly some are trying to undermine these improvements. Despite getting funding for many years the organisers of Féile an Phobail the West Belfast Community Festival have complained to the Andersonstown News that 'themmuns' are getting more publicity from the likes of the tourist board and the Belfast Welcome Centre. Féile itself arose from an attempt to curtail civil disturbances in Catholic West Belfast around the anniversary of the introduction of internment in August 1971. As a glance at their website confirms, they have come a long way. One would have thought that they would have welcomed a similar change in Orange attitudes. Not so far, but we can always hope!


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