FOR readers in Great Britain “the Glorious 12th” does of course refer to 12th August and the start of the shooting season for Grouse.
By DAME ARLENE FOSTER
13:01, Mon, Jun 13, 2022 | UPDATED: 21:52, Mon, Jun 13, 2022
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For those of us in Northern Ireland however, the glorious 12th is the celebration of the Glorious Revolution through the 12th July demonstrations. As someone from the Orange/British community in this part of the UK, this is always a part of the year I look forward to – family members come home from other parts of the UK and beyond and the cultural expression is loud and proud to celebrate the victory of William at the Battle of the Boyne.
The 12th celebrations are the largest cultural event in Northern Ireland with tens of thousands taking part and hundreds of thousands more watching at the 18 host venues.
Every year the BBC in Northern Ireland produce a live broadcast for an hour on the morning of the 12th, capturing the pageantry and atmosphere.
They then also have a programme usually quite late in the evening depicting events of the day.
This year, having had no 12th due to covid in 2020 and only small local gatherings last year, the BBC have decided not to resume the live broadcast.
This comes on the back of minimal coverage of the Orange centenary parade a few weeks ago with 25,000 on parade and over 100,000 spectators and the disgraceful use of the Irish republic’s flag to represent NI in the BBC coverage of the Jubilee concert in London, for which the BBC had to apologise.
You might ask in such a well-planned production how such a faux-pas could happen? I think those of us in NI have our own views on that.
Many people cannot attend 12th July parades for a range of reasons.
Many are housebound due to illness or old age, while others are in nursing homes – they are the people who will be impacted most by this decision.
My own mother loves watching the live parade every year. She is more or less housebound now, and cannot get out to watch in person. The BBC in Northern Ireland is not however apparently concerned about the likes of her.
The BBC is meant to be a public service broadcaster but they are not providing a public service in NI to those unable to make the parade.
BBC NI has pandered to Irish nationalism for years, barely hiding their distaste for the unionist community and it is little wonder that many in the community are asking why they pay a license fee.
As you can imagine the decision by the BBC has been met with distress and disgust.
The Orange Order in their statement said: “It is hard to accept this as anything other than a further snub to the wider Protestant, Unionist and Loyalist Community and our culture.”
Meanwhile, the historian who fronted the BBC live coverage for 10 years is scathing of the decision. Dr Clifford Smyth said: “Whoever is behind this hasn’t thought the decision through very well. You see the whole history of Ulster in the Twelfth parade — it is depicted on the iconic banners. It’s essential that those of a different political outlook are exposed to that story.”
He concluded by saying: “It seems the BBC has abandoned balance.”
The future of the BBC is something actively being discussed at present nationally and I have no doubt that MPs from Northern Ireland will let the Culture Secretary know what they think of this particular decision, but it greatly saddens me that the BBC has become so out of touch with the wider population of the UK, – this decision is just the latest indicator of that.
Oh yes, the good old metropolitan elite are catered for in spades but when it comes to public service for the rest of us, well we just have to suck up the wokery that has now invaded this national institution.
The only part of the BBC which is now a “national treasure” is the World service and the role it provides.
The coverage of international events is also worth investing in, such as the coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Government should explore how these parts of the BBC can be preserved and enhanced whilst getting rid of the regressive license fee, as many of us do not go to the BBC for news anymore.