In the beginning was the word, and the word was No. On Saturday, the last day of the Northern Ireland marching season, members of the Royal Black Preceptory, who dress in black and address each other as Sir Knight, paraded up and down in locations across the province to proclaim the Protestant religion and their allegiance to the British Throne.

The “Blackmen,” as they are known, like to think of themselves as the Brigade of Guards of the loyal orders, a cut above mere Orangemen and far removed from the vulgarities and thuggery of “loyalists”. And it is certainly true that in recent years their leaders have encouraged a more respectful attitude towards the Catholic and nationalist population.