Northern Ireland news

Loyalist bands breach Parades Commission determination at St Patrick's Church

Connla Young

SEVERAL loyalist bands have breached a Parades Commission determination while passing a Catholic church in Belfast.

Bands were ordered to play a single drumbeat as they walked past St Patrick’s Church on Tuesday and the nearby nationalist district of Carrick Hill.

In an unusual move, the commission also said just a single side drum could be used rather than several instruments or a loud bass drum.

No music could played between the junction of Clifton Street and Westlink and Donegall Street and Union Street.

Daily 1pm Mass at St Patrick’s was cancelled while morning Mass was held at the earlier time of 9am - an hour before the parade was due to begin at nearby Carlisle Circus.

A security operation around the parade was scaled down after nationalist residents ended their protest last year.

During Tuesday morning’s parade one band, Jordan Memorial Accordion Band, breached the determination by striking up a tune seconds after passing St Patrick’s.

Another also played ‘The Sash’ a short distance from the church.

Several others, including Cloughfern Young Conquerors Flute Band, appeared to breach the ruling when a large number of side drummers and a bass drummer all struck their instruments as they passed the historic church.

Other breaches occurred when bass drummers rather that side drummers sounded the single drumbeat.

During the parade some Orangemen also whistled as they passed the church while a group belonging to the Queen Victoria Temperance lodge sang the football song, ‘We’re not Brazil we’re Northern Ireland’.

The march included dozens of men dressed in World War One military uniforms and carrying replica weapons in tribute to the 36th Ulster Division which fought in the Battle of the Somme.

Prominent unionist and Orangeman Lord John Laird was also driven past the church in a vintage car bearing the registration UVF 244.

The Cloughfern band again breached the determination by playing multiple drums on the return route yesterday evening.

Sinn Féin North Belfast assembly member Carál Ní Chuilín, who observed the march, said the breaches were “disappointing”.

“This community has constantly offered dialogue to have this resolved,” she said.

“It’s the right thing to do and the responsible thing to do and shows good leadership.”

SDLP assembly member Nichola Mallon said: "A lot of effort, on both sides, has been put into trying to stabilise the parading situation past St Patrick's Church in recent years.

“It's disappointing that a very small number of bands, which mostly seem to be from outside Belfast, have tried to undo this good work by breaching the Parade Commission's determination.”

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