Northern Irish Unionists to Hold Annual Marches

Orange Order
Photo: Paul Faith/AFP

Pro-British unionists will march in an annual parade in Belfast today, celebrating the 1690 victory of Protestant King William Orange over Catholic King James of England and Scotland.

The celebrations have historically triggered sectarian conflict between Protestant loyalists who favor cultural ties to Great Britain and Catholic nationalists who strive for a united Ireland.

Fears of conflict are heightened this year as the loyalist community continues to reel from Brexit and the subsequent protocol agreement which prompted over a week of violent riots earlier this year, raising concern about the potential for increased violence in the coming months.

A June 30 deal which saw a three-month delay on checking goods at the border has done little to appease British loyalists in Ireland. As such, expect political leaders to tread very carefully as talks of violence may become self-fulfilling and spark riots similar to those seen earlier this year.

In the long-term, expect UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to come under heavy fire, as the future of the relationship between England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales is on the line. If he continues on this course of English prioritization, intense frustration among unionists living in Northern Ireland may continue to increase.

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