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Single beat outside Catholic church ‘must be on small drum'

A police Land Rover displays the Parades Commission determination beside St Patrick's Church. Picture by Cliff Donaldson.
Connla Young

BANDS restricted to playing a single drumbeat while passing a Catholic church have been told they can only use a small drum.

Up to 27 bands and 10,000 people are expected to pass St Patrick's Church near the start of the main Twelfth parade in Belfast on Tuesday.

The Parades Commission has said just a single drumbeat can be played as they pass the Donegall Street church and nearby nationalist district of Carrick Hill.

However, in an unusual move it has also ruled that only a single side drum can be used.

In the past loyalist bandsmen have used noisy bass drums or multiple side drums to create the single beat as they walked through the area.

No music can be played between the junction of Clifton Street and the Westlink, where the parade begins at 10am, and Donegall Street and Union Street.

Supporters have also been banned from walking that length of the route.

The restrictions apply to both the outward and return parades.

There was controversy in July 2012 when Shankill Road-based flute band Young Conway Volunteers was filmed walking in circles outside St Patrick's while playing the ‘Famine Song'.

Thirteen members were later convicted of performing a provocative act, but successfully appealed the convictions after agreeing to be bound over to keep the peace.

There were also violent scenes the following month during a Royal Black Institution parade past the church.

In the following years nationalists held regular demonstrations outside the church and Carrick Hill.

However, protests have stopped since the Parades Commission ruled last year that Orangemen were only allow to play a single drumbeat.

Meanwhile, nationalists in Ballycastle, Co Antrim say they will monitor a Twelfth parade through the majority Catholic town today.

Independent councillor Padraig McShane said elected representatives from Derry could be joined by a member of the Dail for the march, which has not been classified as sensitive by the PSNI.

“There will be a large amount of monitors there making sure the community is safe,” he said.

Elsewhere in north Antrim, DUP MLA Mervyn Storey slammed restrictions placed again on an Orange Order parade in the mainly nationalist village of Dunloy.

Once one of the north’s most contentious parades, in recent years Orangemen have been restricted to marching in front of the local Orange hall.

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