The Orange Order is a conservative unionist organisation, with links to Ulster loyalism. It campaigned against Scottish independence in 2014. The Order sees itself as defending Protestant civil and religious liberties, whilst critics accuse the Order of being sectarian, triumphalist, and supremacist. As a strict Protestant society, it does not accept non-Protestants as members unless they convert and adhere to the principles of Orangeism, nor does it accept Protestants married to Catholics. Although many Orange marches are without incident, marches through mainly Catholic and Irish nationalist neighbourhoods are controversial and have often led to violence.
On the morning of March 28th 2015 I had taken the train to Scarborough, to spend a few days by the sea. As we passed throughHuddersfield and on into deepest Yorkshire, the carriage began to fill up at each stop with men, mainly men.
Men in dark overcoats, men with cropped hair, men sharing an unfamiliar familiarity. Intrigued, I enquired of my cultish companions the what, where, when and why of their collective purpose.
It transpired that they were all adherents of the Orange Order, Scarborough bound to participate in the annual Orange March.
On arrival we parted, but we were to meet up later in the day – I walked down to the foreshore and waited.
This is what I saw.
This year the march was cancelled.
You wouldn’t want anyone to catch anything, would you now?