Tension Lingers Below The Surface At The Loyalists' Annual March In Northern Ireland

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The yearly march successful which loyalists observe their ties to the United Kingdom comes arsenic Brexit has created a caller borderline successful the Irish Sea — and the aboriginal of the U.K. is tenuous.


To Northern Ireland now, it's travel a agelong mode since the troubles, the civilian struggle that outgo much than 3,600 lives. But tension, uncertainty - they stay conscionable beneath the surface.


KELLY: In caller days, those tensions person been connected show arsenic Protestants loyal to the United Kingdom staged marches and lit immense bonfires successful an yearly solemnisation of their nationalist identity. NPR's Frank Langfitt reports connected Northern Ireland's marching play from the municipality of Larne.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: So this is astir 20 miles oregon truthful northbound of Belfast successful a wide-open tract successful a tiny town. And I'm looking retired astatine a gigantic bonfire pyre. It's 147 feet high. It's made of woody pallets. It astir looks similar a pagoda. And this is David Murray. He's 1 of the radical who built this.

DAVID MURRAY: It's conscionable a pity she started leaning that mode backmost due to the fact that we would person went higher. We were a wee spot gutted 'cause we wanted to spell for the record. But we're decidedly going for the grounds adjacent year.

LANGFITT: Murray and respective twelve men built the operation implicit six weeks with much than $26,000 successful section donations. The yearly marches present commemorate a Protestant triumph implicit Catholic forces successful 1690. But bonfires similar this 1 person modern governmental messages. At the top, acceptable to burn, is simply a motion that reads IRA for the Irish Republican Army and different which says Brexit. David Murray is aggravated that Brexit has created a caller customs borderline that separates Northern Ireland from the remainder of the United Kingdom and thinks this volition assistance propulsion Northern Ireland person to reunification with the Irish Republic to the South.

MURRAY: We privation to beryllium portion of the U.K., and that's trying to region america distant from the mainland U.K. And this is wherefore there's a batch of hostility astatine the moment.

LANGFITT: And what's your fearfulness arsenic a unionist?

MURRAY: Obviously, the fearfulness is that this is going towards a agreed Ireland.

LANGFITT: Would unionists similar you judge a United Ireland if determination were a just vote?

MURRAY: No. I conscionable wouldn't privation to unrecorded nether that flag, you know? My allegiance is to the United Kingdom.

LANGFITT: The troubles officially ended successful 1998 with the Good Friday Agreement. But for galore here, the symptom remains raw.

IAN CARLISLE: This enactment itself mislaid 340 members astatine the hands of terrorism.

LANGFITT: Ian Carlisle runs the Grand Orange Lodge, a Protestant fraternal organization. Inside the lodge's museum, helium shows maine a ample machine surface with a searchable database of those who were killed.

CARLISLE: The azygous worst atrocity for america happened successful September of 1970, erstwhile the IRA burst into a tiny hallway similar this and changeable dormant 5 of our members astatine a lodge meeting. There's an uneasy peace. There's an aggravated peace. And I ne'er volition hide the radical who butchered our community, perfectly butchered, breaking into churches and shooting unarmed - sorry.

LANGFITT: Unlike South Africa, Northern Ireland has ne'er had a information and reconciliation process, truthful victims' families connected some sides consciousness they've ne'er received justice. I met Gary Duffy arsenic helium was lasting successful the mediate of the roadworthy with families of victims demanding accountability from British soldiers. Duffy was determination for his great-uncle.

GARY DUFFY: He was lasting extracurricular of a pub, waving a achromatic emblem erstwhile a sniper from atop of the flats changeable him successful the head.

LANGFITT: Duffy, 29, was successful simple schoolhouse erstwhile the troubles ended. He wants to spot a agreed Ireland, but similar the immense bulk here, helium perfectly does not privation to spell backmost to the unit of the 1970s and 1980s.

DUFFY: I person been a large recipient of the bid dividend. My household are from a precise working-class community. And I've moved connected and go a lawyer.

LANGFITT: A quality rights lawyer. While immoderate present are inactive shaped by the troubles, polls amusement much and much radical nary longer specify themselves successful the binary connection of part - Protestant versus Catholic, British unionist versus Irish nationalist. As Northern Ireland navigates the interaction of Brexit and an uncertain future, galore deliberation that post-conflict individuality is its top hope.

Frank Langfitt, NPR News, Larne, Northern Ireland.


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