In Northern Ireland, the Eleventh Night or 11th Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, a yearly Ulster Protestant celebration. On this night, large towering bonfires are lit in many Protestant/loyalist neighbourhoods in Northern Ireland and are often accompanied by street parties 100 feet (30 m) tall. The bonfires are lit to celebrate the Glorious Revolution (1688) and victory of Protestant king William of Orange over Catholic king James II at the Battle of the Boyne (1690), which began the Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland. The event has been condemned for displays of sectarian or ethnic hatred, anti-social behaviour, and for the damage and pollution caused by the fires. The flag of the Republic of Ireland, Irish nationalist/republican symbols, Catholic symbols, and effigies, are burnt on many bonfires. There have been attempts to make the event more family-friendly and environmentally-friendly. It is also known as "bonfire night", in common with other events in which bonfires are lit.and loyalist marching bands. The bonfires are mostly made up of wooden pallets and tyres, with some reaching over
Like The Twelfth, the Eleventh Night bonfires celebrate the Glorious Revolution (1688) and victory of Protestant king William of Orange over Catholic king James II in the Williamite-Jacobite War (1689–1691), which began the Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland. When King William landed at Carrickfergus in 1690, his supporters in Ulster lit bonfires to celebrate. Some of those who did not join in the celebrations were attacked by the Williamites.There is also a belief that the bonfires commemorate the lighting of fires on the hills of counties Antrim and Down to help Williamite ships navigate through Belfast Lough at night. Traditionally, both Catholics and Protestants in Ulster had lit bonfires at Midsummer, May Day ( Bealtaine ) and Halloween ( Samhain ), which were non-sectarian. In the 18th century it also became a tradition for Ulster Protestants to light bonfires on 11 July to commemorate the Williamite victory, and for Catholics to light bonfires on 14 August to mark the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, although this latter custom largely died out.
Bonfires in Northern Ireland traditionally mark the night before the Twelfth. However, should the Twelfth fall on a Sunday, as it did in 2015, the public holiday is given in lieu on the following Monday. When this situation arises, some bonfires are lit on the Saturday night.
Eleventh Night bonfires have involved sectarian and loyalist paramilitary displays. Symbols of Irish nationalism/republicanism (such as the Irish tricolour), and symbols of Catholicism, are often burnt on the bonfires.The tricolours on such bonfires are often daubed with sectarian slogans such as "Kill All Taigs" (KAT) or "Kill All Irish" (KAI). Effigies, and posters of Irish nationalist election candidates, are also sometimes burnt, which has been condemned as "inciting hatred". More recently, symbols of immigrant communities, especially the large Polish immigrant community, have been burnt on some bonfires. The Polish Association of Northern Ireland, and others, described this as "racist intimidation".
Loyalist paramilitary groups, such as the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), have also used Eleventh Night bonfires to hold "shows of strength", which often involve masked gunmen firing volleys of shots into the air.
Another issue that has been raised is drunkenness and alcohol-fuelled violence amongst those attending.
Eleventh Night bonfires have raised health and safety concerns, as well as environmental ones.
Bonfires are often built to be as large as possible. Some have been built near houses and other buildings, which in a few cases caught fire.Roads are often damaged and, according to the BBC, clean-up and repairs made to roads due to bonfire-related damage can "cost thousands of pounds", with some roads needing to be resurfaced.
A major concern that has risen to greater prominence in recent years is the pollution they cause. In some bonfires, despite bans by bodies such as Belfast City Council, tyres are burnt. Tyres produce many toxic chemical compounds when burnt, and therefore pose a major health issue.
There have been attempts to make the bonfires more family-friendly and environmentally-friendly. In Belfast, a Bonfire Initiative has been set up. When joining the initiative, the community groups who organize bonfires agree to a number of conditions. A "bonfire committee" must be formed; the gathering of material for burning may only begin on 1 June; only wood can be burnt; and paramilitary flags and emblems must not be displayed at the bonfire site. In 2010, groups who forbore from burning nationalist flags or symbols were awarded an extra £100 funding.
In 2009, Belfast City Council began promoting "beacons" as an environmentally-friendly alternative. It is a pyramid-shaped metal cage filled with willow wood-chips, and set on a base of sand to protect the ground underneath. The willow trees re-grow within a year of being cut down, making the bonfires more environmentally sustainable. By agreeing to use the beacons, the communities qualify for up to £1,500 of funding from Belfast City Council to hold a street party – as long as they do not fly paramilitary flags or burn tyres. Some loyalist communities in Belfast have begun using the beacons. The Orange Order, whilst recognising the importance of bonfires to Protestant culture, have issued calls for the organisers of bonfires not to burn tyres.However, many others oppose the beacon, claiming that it infringes upon their traditions.
Ulster is a traditional province in the north of the island of Ireland. It is made up of nine counties: six of these constitute Northern Ireland ; the remaining three are in the Republic of Ireland. It is the second largest and second most populous of Ireland's four provinces, with Belfast being its biggest city. Unlike the other provinces, Ulster has a high percentage of Protestants, making up almost half of its population. English is the main language and Ulster English the main dialect. A minority also speak Irish, and there are Gaeltacht in southern County Londonderry, the Gaeltacht Quarter of Belfast and in Donegal, where 25% of the total Gaeltacht population of Ireland is located. Lough Neagh, in the east, is the largest lake in the British Isles, while Lough Erne in the west is one of its largest lake networks. The main mountain ranges are the Mournes, Sperrins, Croaghgorms and Derryveagh Mountains.
The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) is an Ulster loyalist paramilitary group. It emerged in 1966. Its first leader was Gusty Spence, a former British soldier. The group undertook an armed campaign of almost thirty years during The Troubles. It declared a ceasefire in 1994 and officially ended its campaign in 2007, although some of its members have continued to engage in violence and criminal activities. The group is classified as a terrorist organisation by the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, and United States.
The Orange Volunteers (OV) or Orange Volunteer Force (OVF) is a small Ulster loyalist paramilitary group in Northern Ireland. It was formed in 1998 by loyalists who opposed the Belfast Agreement and the loyalist ceasefires. Over the following year it carried out a wave of bomb and gun attacks on Catholics and Catholic-owned properties in rural areas, but since 2000 has been relatively inactive. The group has been associated with elements of the Orange Order and has a Protestant fundamentalist ideology. Its original leader was Pastor Clifford Peeples. The OV are a Proscribed Organisation in the United Kingdom under the Terrorism Act 2000.
Ardoyne is a working class and mainly Catholic and Irish nationalist district in north Belfast, Northern Ireland. It gained notoriety due to the large number of incidents during The Troubles.
The Twelfth is an Ulster Protestant celebration held on 12 July. It was first held in the late 18th century in Ulster. It celebrates the Glorious Revolution (1688) and victory of Protestant King William of Orange over Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne (1690), which began the Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland.
The Kingsmill massacre was a mass shooting that took place on 5 January 1976 near the village of Whitecross in south County Armagh, Northern Ireland. Gunmen stopped a minibus carrying eleven Protestant workmen, lined them up alongside it and shot them. Only one victim survived, despite having been shot 18 times. A Catholic man on the minibus was allowed to go free. A group calling itself the South Armagh Republican Action Force claimed responsibility. It said the shooting was retaliation for a string of attacks on Catholic civilians in the area by Loyalists, particularly the killing of six Catholics the night before. The Kingsmill massacre was the climax of a string of tit-for-tat killings in the area during the mid-1970s, and was one of the deadliest mass shootings of the Troubles.
Ulster loyalism is a political ideology found primarily among Ulster Protestants in Northern Ireland who maintain a strong desire to remain part of the United Kingdom. Many Ulster Protestants are descendants of settlers from Great Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries. Like most unionists, loyalists are attached to the British monarchy, support the continued existence of Northern Ireland, and oppose a united Ireland. Ulster loyalism has been described as a kind of ethnic nationalism and "a variation of British nationalism". It is strongly associated with paramilitarism.
Ballycraigy is a housing estate in Antrim, south of Greystone and about 10 miles north of Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The history of Belfast as a settlement goes back to the Iron Age, but its status as a major urban centre dates to the 18th century. Belfast today is the capital of Northern Ireland. Belfast was throughout its modern history a major commercial and industrial centre, but the late 20th century saw a decline in its traditional industries, particularly shipbuilding. The city's history has been marked by violent conflict between Catholics and Protestants which has caused many working class areas of the city to be split into Catholic and Protestant areas. In recent years the city has been relatively peaceful and major redevelopment has occurred, especially in the inner city and dock areas.
The Loyal Orange Institution, commonly known as the Orange Order, is a Protestant fraternal order in Northern Ireland. It also has lodges in the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and throughout the Commonwealth and United States. The Orange Order was founded in County Armagh in 1795, during a period of Protestant–Catholic sectarian conflict, as a Masonic-style fraternity sworn to maintain the Protestant Ascendancy. It is headed by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, which was established in 1798. Its name is a tribute to the Dutch-born Protestant king William of Orange, who defeated the army of Catholic king James II in the Williamite–Jacobite War (1688–1691). The order is best known for its yearly marches, the biggest of which is held on or around 12 July.
The Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, or Loyal Orange Institution of Scotland, is the branch of the Orange Order in Scotland. It is a Protestant fraternity that defends and promotes Protestantism, Britishness, and the continued unity of the United Kingdom. It also campaigns against Scottish independence and was an official participant in the 2014 independence referendum. Its headquarters are in Bridgeton, Glasgow and it claims about 50,000 members, the vast majority of whom are working-class Protestants from the Scottish Lowlands.
Banners are a significant part of the Culture of Northern Ireland, particularly for the Protestant/unionist community, and one of the region's most prominent types of folk art. They are typically carried in parades such as those held on the Twelfth of July, Saint Patrick's Day and other times throughout the year. Generally these are organised by societies such as the Orange Order, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Royal Black Institution and the Apprentice Boys of Derry, and the banners are typically commissioned, and represent, a lodge within one of these societies. Banners are also carried by trade unions and church groups, and by marching bands. Most banners are painted by professionals and executed on silk, although canvas was a more popular material in the past. Most have a painting on each side, usually depicting different subjects, and the name and number of the lodge. Most banners have one subject per side, surrounded by flourishes, scrolls, and other decoration. Despite being in many ways a sectarian art form, Catholic and Protestant banners are usually very similar in terms of style and composition. Apart from subject matter, the main difference is colour: Orange Order banners make heavy use of the colour orange and to a lesser extent red, white, blue and purple, while Catholic banners tend to feature a lot of green.
The Drumcree conflict or Drumcree standoff is an ongoing dispute over yearly parades in the town of Portadown, Northern Ireland. The Orange Order insists that it should be allowed to march its traditional route to and from Drumcree Church. However, most of this route is through the mainly Catholic Irish nationalist part of town. The residents, who see the march as sectarian, triumphalist and supremacist, have sought to ban it from their area. The Orangemen see this as an attack on their traditions; they had marched the route since 1807, when the area was mostly farmland. The "Drumcree parade" is held on the Sunday before the Twelfth of July.
The Battle of St Matthew's or Battle of Short Strand was a gun battle that took place on the night of 27–28 June 1970 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It was fought between the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Ulster loyalists in the area around St Matthew's Roman Catholic church. This lies at the edge of the Short Strand, a Catholic enclave in a mainly-Protestant part of the city. Violence had erupted there, and in other parts of Belfast, following marches by the Orange Order. The battle lasted about five hours and ended at dawn when loyalists withdrew. The British Army and police were deployed nearby but did not intervene. Three people were killed and at least 26 wounded in the fighting, while another three were killed in north Belfast.
The 2011 Northern Ireland riots were a series of riots between 20 June 2011 and 16 July 2011, starting originally in Belfast, before spreading to other parts of Northern Ireland. They were initiated by the Ulster Volunteer Force.
Bonfire Night is a name given to various annual celebrations characterised by bonfires and fireworks. The event celebrates different traditions on different dates, depending on the country. Some of the most popular instances include Guy Fawkes Night in Great Britain, which is also celebrated in some Commonwealth countries; Northern Ireland's Eleventh Night, and 5 November in Newfoundland and Labrador. In various parts of Ireland, Bonfire Nights are held on St John's Eve, Bealtaine eve and Halloween. In Scandinavia it is known as Walpurgis Night. St John's Eve is also a very important celebration in Spain and Northern Portugal. Several other cultures also include night-time celebrations involving bonfires and/or fireworks.
During the 2012 North Belfast Riots sectarian disorder and rioting between loyalists and republicans occurred when rival parades, authorised by the Parades Commission, took place.
The Donegall Arms shooting took place on 21 December 1991, when gunmen from the small Irish Republican paramilitary group the Irish People's Liberation Organisation (IPLO) burst into the Donegall Arms public house and sprayed it with gunfire, killing two Protestant civilians and injuring several others in the bar. The attack happened at a time when Republican and Loyalist paramilitaries were engaged in many tit-for-tat killings.
On 5 April 1975 Irish republican paramilitary members killed a UDA volunteer and four Protestant civilians in a gun and bomb attack at the Mountainview Tavern on the Shankill Road - the heart of loyalist Belfast. The attack was claimed by the Republican Action Force believed to be a covername used by Provisional IRA (IRA) volunteers. Earlier in the day, two Catholic civilians were killed in a bomb attack in a Belfast pub carried out by the Protestant Action Force a name used by the Ulster Volunteer Force to claim some attacks. An elderly Catholic man was shot later the same night by loyalists bringing the death toll to eight for the day.
The 2005 Belfast riots were serious loyalist riots and civil disturbances in Belfast, Northern Ireland in September 2005. The violence broke out after the Protestant Orange Order Whiterock parade was re-routed to avoid the Irish nationalist Springfield Road area. Clashes also broke out in several towns in County Antrim. The incidents took place amid a fierce feud between members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), who are also thought to have orchestrated the riots.
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