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Band breaks determination

Published 14/07/2014

Connla Young

LOYALIST bands have been accused of deliberately walking past St Patrick's church as Mass was taking place on Saturday evening.

One band, Glasgow Orange Defenders, broke a Parades Commission determination by playing music while passing the church both during the outward journey and the return leg while Mass was taking place in the Donegal Street church.

There were also multiple breaches of a Parades Commission determination banning music along a section of road past St Patrick's during Saturday's parade.

Up to 10,000 Orangemen and 25 bands had been granted permission to march, but despite this 38 bands, with many coming from Scotland, filed past during the morning parade.

St Patrick's administrator Fr Michael Sheehan looked on from the steps of the church as those taking part made their way to the main demonstration field on the outskirts of Belfast.

During the outward parade one Orangeman broke ranks and danced in front of the church with his arms raised in the air while another man made an obscene one-fingered gesture towards nationalist protesters.

A photographer was also assaulted as he stood opposite the church.

In a separate incident an Orange-man made a similar gesture as he walked past a small group up to 50 members of Carrick Hill Concerned Residents' Group located in a car park opposite the church.

Protesters also gathered a short distance away at Carrick Hill where no restrictions were placed on bands playing music.

The majority of bands broke a Parades Commission determination by playing music between 18 Clifton Street and Union Street.

However, only Glasgow Orange Defenders played while passing the church itself.

Tensions in the area have been high since Shankill Road-based Young Conway Volunteers were filmed walking in circles while playing the sectarian Famine Song outside the church in July 2012.

The band, which is also known as Young Citizen Volunteers, disbanded earlier this year but later reformed and took part in Saturday's parade.

Fr Michael Sheehan said the parade was "a lot more positive than I have ever experienced".

"I think there were individual breaches of the determination but I think in all an effort has been made to make it as peaceful and respectful as possible," he said.

"I am aware that marshals tried to stop individual bands striking up and in some cases they were successful and in other cases they weren't."

Culture minister Caral Ni Chuilin, a North Belfast assembly member , said residents should be shown "respect" by the loyal orders.

"It looks to me like they waited until Mass was starting to march past. That looks to me like a lot of disrespect," she said.

SDLP North Belfast assembly member Alban Maginness raised concerns about the parade. "I can't understand why there was such a delay, it could have been up and past before the Mass had started at 7pm," he said.

"By and large it has gone off without incident and that's to be welcomed.

"But there is still an air of nastiness about it all and that's very depressing and disappointing."

Carrick Hill residents' spokesman Frank Dempsey said the breaches had caused anger.

"It is getting ridiculous here," he said.

"They have said to the Parades Commission, 'Go and get stuffed completely'. Coming back again they deliberately held back until the service has started."

* INCIDENTS: Clockwise from top left: the Glasgow Orange Defenders Band march past St Patrick's on the Saturday breaking the determination by playing music; police try to hold back supporters from making their way up Donegall Street; bands and Orangemen march past St Patrick's; Orangeman makes an obscene gesture to nationalist residents as he marches past St Patrick's