A sectarian song banned in Scotland was played by loyalists in their latest march past a church which has become the focal point of unionist intimidation of Catholics in north Belfast.
The playing of the sectarian ‘Famine Song’ by a band taking part in a Remembrance Day parade outside St Patrick’s Catholic church was condemned by nationalist politicians, clergy and community leaders.
It was the second time the song, which derides those who emigrated to Scotland in the famine, has been played outside St Patrick’s church in central Belfast in the last six months.
On the Twelfth of July, the Young Conway Volunteers were filmed playing the Famine Song while marching in circles outside St Patrick’s. Since then, loyalists have ritualistically marched past the church four times, each time ignoring the conditions imposed by a powerless Parades Commission.
The Apprentice Boys, who organised the parade, described the incident as a “minor infringement” and said the song was not played directly opposite the church. It also claimed band members had been confronted by local residents.
The Carrick Hill Concerned Residents Committee hit out at the Parades Commission earlier this week after no less than five bands were told they could play music (‘hymns’) at the flashpoint. Chairman of the group Frank Dempsey said Saturday’s breach had caused further insult to people, and condemned the plan for yet another loyalist parade past the church early next month.
“Now we have another march coming up on December 1 and we have to ask, when is someone going to uphold these determinations? Here we are again,” Mr Dempsey said.
As local politicians declined to get further involved in the matter, parish priest Fr Michael Sheehan said people in the area were becoming exasperated after repeated flouting of determinations.
“I am disappointed that the determination has been broken again. This is the fourth time, the fourth month and the fourth parade this has happened,” he said.
PROTESTORS REFUSE FINES
Meanwhile, protestors who sat on a main road in an attempt to prevent an anti-Catholic march from passing the Ardoyne interface in north Belfast have said they will go to jail rather than pay court fines for obstruction.
Members of the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) took part in a picket outside Antrim Road police station this week.
In July 2010 around 100 people held a sit down on the main Crumlin Road several hours before the annual Orange Order march was due to pass the flashpoint.
It took scores of riot clad, baton wielding PSNI officers nearly five hours to drag the determined protestors from the path of the sectarian march. Many protestors were injured during the PSNI operation, which saw water cannon and plastic bullets against residents.
GARC spokesman Dee Fennell said yesterday that the sit down protest was a “peaceful demonstration” and he would not be paying the fine imposed at Belfast Magistrates Court last December.
“The sit down protest was a peaceful one and both the charges and prosecutions were wrong,” he said.
“We will not be paying these fines and are more than willing to go to Maghaberry to highlight this injustice.”