Loyalists to march past church once again
The anti-Catholic Orange Order is to hold yet another march past St Patrick’s Catholic Church in Belfast, despite again failing to talk to the nearby Carrick Hill residents’ group.
The organisation has again been granted permission for four bands and around 400 loyalists to pass the Donegall Street church on the last Sunday of October, this time to celebrate the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century.
Loyalist bandsmen were involved in serious sectarian incidents both on July 12 and during the ‘Last Saturday’ Black Institution parade in August. Some also engaged in provocations outside the church during last month’s ‘Ulster Covenant’ parade.
The Parades Commission ruled this week that the ‘Reformation’ march can pass the church and that bands should play hymns or a single drum beat along the controversial section of the route, in line with their recent rulings.
On the Twelfth [of July], notorious Shankill band the Young Conway Volunteers (YCV) were filmed playing the sectarian Famine Song while marching in circles outside St Patrick’s.
The group were later prohibited from attending the August march but ignored the ban. Members of the YCV were questioned by the PSNI police last week, but no action was taken.
Asked yesterday why the Orange Order had not yet consulted with residents, a spokesman said that an invitation to talk “remains on the table” for “priests and parishioners” - but not for the local residents association.
Carrick Hill residents spokesman Frank Dempsey said: “The determination is the same as the one given during the Black Preceptory march in August that was totally disregarded.
“This really comes down to whether or not the Orange Order and invited bands abide by the determination on the day or not.
“The Orange Order simply do not appear to be taking the Parades Commission seriously.
“They are not being held responsible for breaches despite being the organisers.
“We did scale down our protest and the offer of dialogue with residents stands if the Orange Order want to engage between now and the march.”
The parade will pass the church twice in the afternoon.
Meanwhile, a letter of apology from the Orange Order distributed to the parishioners of St Matthew’s Church in east Belfast has been described as “wholly inadequate” by Sinn Fein.
The apology over the disgraceful actions of the marchers during the ‘Covenant’ parade last month outside the Short Strand Catholic church -- including the shouting of obscenities and public urination against the church railing -- was distributed outside Sunday Mass.
Sinn Fein councillor Niall O Donnghaile said Orange Order grand secretary Drew Nelson “may as well not have bothered”.
“Their so-called apology makes absolutely no reference to the countless breaches of the Parades Commission determination and the complete disrespect shown to this community over the duration of the covenant parade,” he said.
“There should be no ambiguity. There should be no excuses. What happened outside St Matthew’s was wrong and the leaders of the Orange Order and political unionism need to step up to the plate and say that.
“Partial apologies will not solve outstanding issues around contentious parades in east Belfast - only direct dialogue will achieve that.”