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10 July 2015

The 12th July - Re-imagining Twaddell?

Every year in Northern Ireland there are around 5000 parades. Many of these are charity and sporting events, about 60% are loyalist/unionist parades and about 3% are nationalist/republican. Only about 5% of the total number of parades are considered 'contentious'. 

This Think Friday is not about the rights and wrongs of parades or protest. There is a civil right to public assembly and a civil right to protest. However neither of these rights are absolute and civil responsibility is also a vital part of this conversation. 

What does the much-discussed concept of 'reasonable accommodation' look like when moved to the physical space of the public square? Looking at the bigger picture both Orangemen and Republicans agree that civil rights and religious freedoms are essential - particularly the rights to freedom of assembly, belief and conscience and peaceful protest. Taking a step back there is actually a lot of agreement between the sides. 

The stalemate over certain parades is damaging our whole community financially and relationally. In this week's Think Friday we look at a creative solution to the situation at Twaddle. No side loses ground. No side compromises their principles, in fact they make them stronger. No side stops being loyalist/unionist/orange or republican/nationalist/resident. However these identities come second to mutual respect for each other's humanity, dignity and freedom. This would be profound leadership and new ground for the entire community. 

Could sites like Twadell or Drumcree be transformed from a story of each 'side' getting their own way or demanding respect, to each side giving generously and gaining respect?

There is a guaranteed risk of violence, worsening community relationships and increasing financial cost if the present situation continues. But who is up for the risk of taking responsibility by venturing something new?