Sectarian tension linked to marching season
Sectarian tension linked to marching season

The controversial Whiterock parade by the Protestant Orange Order in Belfast later this month will go ahead, despite the opposition of local nationalist residents.

As last year, fifty Orangemen will be allowed to pass through the security gate at Workman Avenue, with the remaining members and accompanying bands passing through the former Mackies site on the Springfield Road.

The parade, which will take place on Saturday June 25, has passed off relatively quietly in recent years, with nationalist protests remaining peaceful.

However, loyalists this week daubed sectarian graffiti across walls at a nearby Catholic school. Several laptops were also stolen during the attack on Little Flower Girls’ School on the Somerton Road in north Belfast.

Sinn Fein culture minister Caral ni Chuilin -- a past pupil of the school -- said it was ‘distressing’.

“Schools are at the heart of the community and can be an easy target when it comes to vandalism and offensive, vile graffiti like this.”

Meanwhile, an Orange hall in Dunloy, County Antrim, was sprayed with graffiti at the weekend. The hall, which is situated in a republican area, had the words ‘No 3rd Warning Stay Out’ sprayed on it, an apparent reference to tensions over attempts by the Orange Order to hold an anti-Catholic march in the village.

Elswehere, an Asda store has faced complaints for a second time about the loyalist song, ‘The Sash’. The supermarket is at the centre of a fresh row after a loyalist bandsman provocatively played ‘The Sash’ in front of customers at the weekend.

Several members of a flute band were in Asda on the Shore Road in Belfast on Saturday evening when one produced an instrument and began to march up and down the aisles playing the Orange anthem. A store spokeswoman said the incident was beyond its control.

The store, which is owned by Walmart, previously grabbed headlines for anti-Catholic behaviour. One staff member, infamous for killing two Catholic brothers in a double sectarian murder, was allowed to continue working at the store despite intimidating Catholic shoppers during last year’s marching season.


Meanwhile, Limavady’s new Sinn Fein mayor was forced to adjourn the first council meetings he chaired after a unionist councillor attempted to disrupt proceedings by erecting union jack flags.

Extreme unionist councillor Boyd Douglas of Jim Allister’s ‘Traditional Unionist Voice’ party refused to remove a union jack he set up in the chamber.

Sean McGlinchey, a former political prisoner, was elected mayor following council elections last month.

At the first meeting, Douglas put out the flag and refused to remove it, despite Mr McGlinchey’s repeated pleas.

“If a commander of the IRA can sit on this council I shall be keeping the flag up,” he said, while unionists fired insults at Mr McGlinchey.

Before leaving the meeting, Mr McGlinchey said he felt the council should close until a “better working relationship” among councillors could be established.

“It’s getting to the stage where everybody in this council is a waste of rate payers money. I am not going to take on people’s remarks,” he said.

On Tuesday night, a second meeting was again suspended but resumed after Douglas took the flag down.

He said if he had “been asked in a reasonable manner” to remove the flag last week he would have done but still reserved the right to display it at any time.


In Lisburn, County Antrim, hundreds of loyalists gathered on Sunday for the unveiling of a controversial memorial to the British Army’s locally-recruited Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR).

The 19ft statue depicting a UDR man and a female soldier manning a roadblock stands in the centre of the town.

Nationalists on Lisburn council had opposed the statue and in particular its central location in a busy shopping area, describing it as “insensitive and intimidating” to the town’s Catholic population.

The Ulster Defence Regiment, a paramilitary-style regiment whose membership overlapped with those of loyalist death squads, infamously terrorised and murdered nationalists during the conflict.

Sinn Fein councillor Angela Nelson said the party’s constituency office had received a lot of calls from people expressing anger.

“People in the Protestant community may wish to thank the UDR but it has been looked on as a bigoted force by nationalists, which was proven in the killings of Catholics by members of the UDR,” she said.

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