(John Coulter, Irish Daily Star)
The notorious Ardoyne Dander by dissident republicans over Easter has got to be one of the most embarrassing episodes in nationalist history.
What was supposed to be a dignified commemoration to four dead Fianna members turned into a public relations disaster.
This was NOT because of children on parade in supposed paramilitary gear – it was because republicans proved they physically cannot march.
I am a former staff sergeant in the Christian Boys’ Brigade movement where drill was a compulsory part of parade nights. I passed BB exams in square-bashing and I know how to march.
What we witnessed in the Ardoyne was not competent drilling, but a pathetic dander along the road where many of the so-called marchers were out of step with an inability to use their arms.
With major commemorations this year to mark the centenaries of the founding of both the Irish Citizen Army and Irish Volunteers, republicans will need to get their act together if they are not to look like complete tits on parade.
Some in the DUP got their political knickers in a twist because of the young kids in the Ardoyne parade.
Instead of going yapping to the Children’s Commissioner, the DUP should have just laughed off what was one of the most comical parades of the year.
If I was one of those four Fianna members being supposedly honoured, I’d be spinning in my grave with deep fury at the way my name was being made a fool of.
It is no secret that I am a radical Right-wing Unionist, but as a holder of top BB awards such as the President’s and Queen’s Badges, after watching the Ardoyne shambles even I wanted to offer my drilling services to republicans to show them how to parade properly.
If republicans cannot learn to march in step in public, then they should cancel many commemorations to stop becoming the butt of jokes from loyalists.
The Prod Loyal Orders and blood and thunder loyalist flute bands may stage some contentious parades, but at least they can walk in step. Drill is a major component of the Marching Orders and bands.
Ironically, the main blame for republicans being unable to stage a credible parade in terms of marching lies with the Irish Catholic Church.
While the Protestant Churches have the BB and the Girls’ Brigade, both of which major in drill, what youth organisations does Irish Catholicism promote which have an emphasis on square bashing?
Watching the Ardoyne debacle was worse than getting a filling without an anaesthetic. I really felt so sorry for those wee kids. No one seemed to show them how to march.
Maybe the Fianna should be revamped with a serious emphasis on drill. What is certain is that republicans cannot continue making laughing stocks of themselves.
Some of the most embarrassing footage is off the so-called IRA and INLA colour parties at the 1981 funerals of the hunger strikers.
Especially at Bobby Sands’ funeral. Whoever selected the Provo guard of honour to accompany the dead MP’s coffin needed a spell in the BB. Their so-called slow march was diabolical. Some republicans march as if they are stamping on flies.
Unfortunately for republicans, the Sands’ colour party’s antics set the tone for many republican events since.
Love or loathe the late Iron Lady Maggie Thatcher, at least the hundreds of parading Brits could march in step.
I scored 90% in my last drill exam, so do me a favour republicans, if you can’t walk in step, at least hold your shoulders properly. Drill staff sergeant Coulter at the ready to show you how!
April 25, 2013________________
This article appeared in the April 22, 2013 edition of the Irish Daily Star.