This article examines the difficulties of finding local solutions to the problem of contentious events in contemporary Northern Ireland. In so doing, it offers a sociological perspective on fundamental divisions in Northern Ireland: between classes and between communities. It shows how its chosen case study—parades and associated protests in north Belfast—exemplifies the most fundamental problem that endures in post-Agreement Northern Ireland, namely that political authority is not derived from a common civic culture (as is the norm in Western liberal democracy) but rather that legitimacy is still founded on the basis of the culture of either one or the other community. Haugaard’s reflections on authority and legitimacy are used to explore Northern Ireland’s atypical experience of political conflict vis-`a-vis the Western liberal democratic model. The Bourdieusian concepts of field illusio and doxa help to explain why it is that parading remains such an important political and symbolic touchstone in this society.