Orange Marches in Northern Ireland: Folk Festival This Years Exciting

Today, the traditional Orange Marches in Northern Ireland are reaching a peak. Large groups of Protestants walk along in parades for the so-called Orangem‘s Day. A colourful march with bowler hats, drums and flutes. It looks cheerful, but the banners and banners are full of controversial symbols and political slogans.

The parades are part of the traditional July celebrations in Northern Ireland, with pro-British unionists commemorating that Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II in 1690. The celebrations are intended to show that Protestantism still exists and are considered to be an expression of Protestant culture and identity. But many Catholics in Northern Ireland experience the folk festival as provocative.

Over the weekend, more than 200 joy and protest fires have been lit. Irish flags were also burned in some places.

Brexit tensions

Almost every year, parades lead to tensions between Protestant unionists, who want Northern Ireland to stay with the UK, and Catholic Republicans, who are in favour of a united Ireland.

This year, much more plays in the background. There is a growing frustration about the Brexit protocol. The Northern Irish Protestants feel cheated by British Prime Minister Johnson, who promised that there would be no customs border in the Irish Sea.

But it came anyway. In practice, the Brexit trade agreement is making Northern Ireland more and more cut off from the UK. And that’s an issue that touches the Protestant identity in the heart.

Political instability

The frustration about Brexit focuses not only on the British government in London, but also on the largest unionist political party, the DUP, leading the Northern Ireland government. This Protestant party is accused of failing to prevent trade barriers between Northern Ireland and Britain. There is a feeling that Northern Ireland has been ‘sacrificed’ so politicians could make a Brexit deal with the EU.

The calving support for the DUP creates new political instability in Northern Ireland. For example, two party leaders of the party have resigned in recent months.


The lack of trust in political leaders and the feeling of being โ€œbetrayedโ€ brings back up the old rivalry between Protestants and Catholics. In April, riots emerged, where stones and molotov cocktails flew back and forth over the so-called ‘peace wall’ in Belfast. More than fifty cops were injured.

The street turmoil reminded many of the so-called Troubles, the civil war that held Northern Ireland in its grip for decades last century and cost thousands of people.


In recent months, Northern Ireland protested regularly against the Brexit protocol and trade border in the Irish Sea. Meanwhile, the British and the EU are disagreeing on how to implement that protocol and its related customs duties. The introduction of the protocol is being postponed over and over again, keeping the Northern Ireland in the dark and tensions persist.