LETTER:Where's the Britishness in Orange marches?

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From Mr Tony Freeman

Sir: David Trimble says (Another View: "Orange is not offensive", 13 July) that the Orange marches through Northern Ireland are "a harmless long-standing tradition". He also refers to the "traditions of Ulster British people". As a normal, non-religious British person, I find his attitudes bizarre.

The vast majority of British people are fortunate to live in a secular environment where religious affiliation is of no relevance. I have no idea of the religious beliefs of my neighbours or work colleagues, and if I did it would have no affect on my behaviour. I also have no knowledge of what battles or conflicts my forebears were involved in 189 years ago.

Mr Trimble must accept that marches celebrating ancient victories are inflammatory and bear no part in modern British life. Mainland British people have quietly supported and paid for the defence of the Unionist community in Northern Ireland for 25 years. If the more militant members of the Unionist community refuse to adopt a more conciliatory attitude to assist the peace process, they will lose the support of the average British person.

When are the Orangemen, who claim to be British, going to start behaving in a British way?

Yours faithfully,

Tony Freeman

London, SE23

13 July

From Mr John Hamilton