Northern Ireland

Twelfth 'should be a national holiday' in the South

Former Irish deputy prime minister Michael McDowell has said the Twelfth of July should be made a national holiday in the south as well as in Northern Ireland.

Mr McDowell said genuine republicans had to consider building an inclusive society.

He made the speech at the MacGill Summer School in Donegal on Wednesday.

"Generally speaking there is an under appreciation of the Orange tradition in Ireland," he said.

The Orange Order and its parades continue to be a source of controversy and division in Northern Ireland.

The Protestant organisation's main marches on 12 July commemorate Prince William of Orange's 1690 Battle of the Boyne victory over Catholic King James II.

Some marches have been a source of tension between nationalists who see the parades as triumphalist and intimidating, and Orangemen who believe it is their right to walk on public roads.

On Thursday, Mr McDowell told the BBC that he was using the term "Orange tradition" in a broad sense.

"I was pointing out that in the Republic in particular, there is a failure to address the significance of the orange panel of the Irish tricolour, as in the part of Irishness which is not Gaelic or Catholic.


"I was pointing out that there were many many things the establishment in the Republic could do to show all Irish people, North and south that the Orange tradition in that broad sense was truly appreciated.

"It's not a sweetener, it's a matter of friendship, of simply saying we acknowledge the Battle of the Boyne was an event to which the Orange traditional attributes major historical significance.

"The civil and political liberties which were at the forefront of their mind at that time are values that we hold."

Mr McDowell said his idea received a warm reception at the summer school.

"You look at the problems in the Ardoyne and for people in the Republic one of the most offensive things is to see the tricolour being waved by people who are engaging in sectarian rioting," he said.

"Reconciliation and friendship is what we should be putting forward

"The south has a role to play in changing attitudes north and south, its not good enough to watch, there are things we can do to foster such things.

"We all want to see Northern Ireland and the political process move forward."