Loyalist events aim at St Patrick’s Day
Loyalist events aim at St Patrick’s Day


Efforts to mark the St Patrick’s weekend in the north of Ireland were marred by provocative and sectarian UDA and Orange Order parades.

A parade in Derry to mark the anniversary of the death of a UDA bomber saw loyalist paramilitary flags erected along the entire route, much of which is in a mixed area.

While thousands were celebrating the Saint Patrick’s Day weekend with inclusive events across the North, loyalists from north Down chose the nationalist city of Derry to commemorate Lindsay Mooney, who blew himelf up in a bid to massacre St Patrick’s Day pub-goers across the border in County Donegal.

Mooney died when his own bomb that he was transporting to Kirk’s Bar in Lifford, County Donegal – which was packed for St Patrick’s Day in 1973 – exploded prematurely.

The parade itself saw chants of support for the UDA. A gathering in a publicly-funded hall used by the Apprentice Boys of Derry saw more sectarian displays, including a rendition of the anti-Irish ‘Famine Song’, according to posts on social media.

The erection of loyalist flags drew continuing protest from nationalist councillors.

“Constituents have genuine concerns about a heightening of tensions and don’t want to see any damage to community relations in what is a cross-community area,” said SDLP councillor for the Waterside area of Derry, Sean Moone.

Aontú councillor Emmet Doyle added: “No-one wants to see this type of area marking by illegal groups in any area of the city especially on a day where the city is looking to focus on positivity and positive cultural expression”.

Elsewhere, thousands of members of the anti-Catholic Orange Order marched around the County Antrim village of Broughshane for several hours last Friday in a deliberate attempt to disrupt the annual St Patrick’s Day pilgrimage.

Several thousand Catholics make the annual pilgrimage, trekking the trail around Slemish mountain every year. It is the location where St Patrick as a young man is said to have worked as a shepherd and converted.

However, some pilgrims were blocked and delayed by the Orangemen. One said it was “beyond comprehension” why the Parades Commission allowed a sectarian anti-Catholic parade in the area on St Patrick’s Day.

Last year a mini-festival with outdoor entertainment, including traditional music, dance and street theatre took place at the site, possibly provoking the Orange response.

Eleven bands, an estimated 2,000 members and a crowd of 5,000 were expected to take part in the parade, which began at noon – the peak time for pilgrimages to the mountain, and ended around 4pm.

Local Sinn Féin councillor James McKeown said the marchers “caused delay and upset, with some changing plans at the last minute. I am going to be asking whether there was any contact with the organisers with the parade and discussions about timing.”

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