Today is The Twelfth, the day Northern Ireland Unionists commemorate the victory by the Protestant William of Orange over the Catholic James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
Actually it isn’t really a commemoration at all: it is an excuse to flaunt their manufactured medieval tribalism; a self-justificatory excuse for failure by inventing a ‘cause’ which is different from that of the man in the next street.
Twenty-seven police officers have been injured overnight, three of them shot.
This will come as a surprise to most people. Isn’t Northern Ireland at peace? Didn’t Tony Blair feel ‘the hand of history’ on his shoulder (this was preceded by the statement ‘this is no time for sound bites’)?
The truth is it was a typical Blair deal: high on visibility, high on what he called ‘eye-catching initiatives’, low on practicality. The nationalist price for the deal, troops out and having known terrorists in the government, was so high, and Blair’s trendy courage so dilute, it meant that the unionists were hardly likely to give up their right to these provocative, sneering marches. There were always going to be flare-ups and the police have to carry the can.
Blair's vicar on earth, the late media saint ‘Mo’ Mowlem, was so biased in favour of the nationalist argument that negotiators had to bypass her.
So Northern Ireland is still stuck in 1916, while the rest of the world moves on. And Tony Blair, Bill Clinton and the other self-publicising shysters involved in this botched agreement, continue to bask in the world’s praise.
A more even handed approach might have been that the 12th July be no longer a holiday, that the marches are banned, and that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness are investigated for their terrorist activity over a period of thirty years.