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Band's marching song 'breaks hymn-only ruling'

Published 08/07/2013

Marie Louise McCrory

THERE was a heavy police presence around St Patrick's Catholic Church in Belfast city centre yesterday as an Orange Order parade passed by.

Up to 400 Orangemen and one band marched past the Donegall Street flashpoint at around 2.30pm as nationalist residents held protests.

The Parades Commission had ruled that "only respectful hymn tunes" should be played between the junction of the Westlink and Clifton Street and the junction of Donegall Street and Union Street following anger over sectarian music played outside St Patrick's last year.

However, as the parade made its way past the nationalist Carrick Hill area towards Donegall Street the band could be heard playing It's a Long Way to Tipperary.

It switched to Abide With Me as it approached St Patrick's.

One parade participant was seen filming nationalist residents as they staged two protests along the route, holding banners that read "respect St Patrick's Church" and 'respect our community'.

A police officer also took photographs of events.

Frank Dempsey, chairman of the Carrick Hill Concerned Residents Group, said the Orange Order had breached the Parades Commission determination by playing what he described as a "British army marching song".

"They just seem to have to make a point every time they come past here," he said.