Marching season ends

The last day of the marching season saw loyalist bands play sectarian tunes through republican areas and a village in County Down completely shut down, with tailbacks of up to seven miles long.

The Crossgar parade was the largest of six gatherings across the north to mark “last Saturday [in August]”, when the Protestant Royal Black Institution marches.

Up to 10,000 bandsmen and Royal Black Insitution members are believed to have gathered in the normally sleepy village of Crossgar - which lies on the main road between Belfast and Downpatrick.

SDLP assembly member Margaret Ritchie who lives three miles from Crossgar said she intended to take the matter up with the Parades Commission and police.

“People in east Down were largely unaware that this huge parade was taking place and as they went about their normal business found themselves caught up in long tailbacks,” she said.

“I really think more consideration should be given to people in the area before permission to parade is granted.”

Blackmen also marched in Belfast, Lisburn, Killyleagh, County Armagh, Ballymena, Castlerock, County Antrim and Castlederg, County Tyrone.

Sinn Fein East Belfast representative Niall O Donnghaile said one band taking part in a feeder parade close to the Short Strand flouted restrictions placed on it by the Parades Commission by playing music.

It was the second year running the restrictions had been ignored. There was a similar story in north Belfast at a ‘feeder’ parade in Ardoyne.

A spokesman for the Parades Commission said it would await reports from its own parade monitors later this week and study them in detail.

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© 2009 Irish Republican News