Loyalist bands breach music ban

Posted By: July 14, 2015

Connla Young. Irish News ( Belfast). Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Fr. Michael Sheehan and Alban Maginess watching the Parade making its way down Donegall Street, Belfast.. 

MARCHERS: Yesterday’s Orange Order parade makes its way down Donegall Street, Belfast, past St Patrick’s 
 Finaghy True Blues band continue playing music as they pass St Patrickâ’s Church yesterday. Above, bandsmen raise drums in the air after passing the church. Right, Fr Michael Sheehan and SDLP MLA Alban Maginness watching the parade. Below, Sinn Féin MLA Carál Ní Chuilín 
Several loyalist bands breached a Parades Commission ruling by playing music while passing St Patrick’s Church in Belfast yesterday.

South Belfast-based Finaghy True Blues was among those to flout restrictions as it marched past the city centre church while police, politicians and other observers looked on.

Last week the Parades Commission ordered bands taking part in the main Twelfth demonstration to play just a single drumbeat while passing St Patrick’s and nearby Carrick Hill.

A member of Finaghy True Blues later defended its actions.

“We played a hymn, How Great Thou Art, past a place of worship, that’s just normal, that’s how it goes” he said.

Marching down Donegall Street, members of the band also stopped and began jumping on the spot close to The Irish News offices while holding drums above their heads and singing.

Two bands from Scotland also breached the Parades Commission determination by playing music after they had passed St Patrick’s but before they had reached the end of the restricted zone at the junction of Donegall Street and Union Street.

Several bands also played loyalist tunes within earshot of the church, including the sectarian Famine Song and The Sash.

St Patrick’s dministrator Fr Michael Sheehan looked on from the porch of the church and parochial house as thousands of Orangemen and band members filed past.

Senior Belfast Orangemen including Rev Mervyn Gibson and George Chittick took part in the parade, along with DUP MP for North Belfast Nigel Dodds.

Some Orangemen whistled loyalist tunes, while one bandsman was seen spitting as he passed St Patrick’s.

There was a heavy PSNI presence in the area.

Last week The Irish News reported that Carrick Hill residents had called off a three-year protest after bands taking part were restricted from playing music.

The group was formed in 2012 after Shankill Road-based Young Conway Volunteers were filmed walking in circles outside the church while playing the Famine Song.

Fr Michael Sheehan yesterday said everyone should remain positive.

“In the most part it was respectful, dignified and I think the Orange should be able to see that they are welcome to walk by the community in the parish if they continue to do so with dignity and respect,” he said.

“They should take a very positive message from it.”

Sinn Féin culture minister Carál Ní Chuilín praised local residents. 

“In my opinion the Carrick Hill residents group have been very magnanimous they have tried to create space for dialogue to happen and it would appear that there is an opportunity here,” she said.

“Certainly the bands that breeched the determinations cannot be rewarded for bad behaviour.”

SDLP assembly member Alban Maginness also criticised those who broke the determination.

“Prince Charles visited this church recently, what he was saying was respect this church, this historic building and respect the people who use this church and live around it.”

Carrick Hill residents’ spokesman Frank Dempsey said people in the area were unhappy with the PSNI operation.

“We took the initiative and now we are being crucified for it,” he said.

“Here we have it again, they are breaking determinations and the police are hemming people into Carrick Hill for no reason.”

There were no reports of parade breaches during the later return route past St Patrick’s.

Meanwhile, tensions were lifted during yesterday’s parade when Fr Sheehan allowed a bandsman to use the toilet in his parochial house during a break in proceedings.

After being led to the toilet the relieved loyalist duly returned to the ranks of his band to some cheers.

The episode stands in contrast to scenes during an Ulster Covenant anniversary parade in 2012 when a loyalist bandsman was pictured urinating against the gates of St Matthew’s Church in east Belfast. 

? Editorial ? P18