THE playing of the sectarian Famine Song by a band taking part in an Remembrance Day parade outside a catholic church has been condemned by nationalist politicians, clergy and community leaders.

The Apprentice Boys last night described the incident in which the Dunmurry Protestant Boys struck up the controversial tune as “unfortunate ” and a ” minor infringement ” and hit out at attacks it says were carried out against participants in its parade. In a statement the order condemned nationalist protesters it accused of breaching determinations. And contrary to reports, the organisation said it had not expelled the band involved in the playing of the music. ” It is unfortunate that a minor infringement which was down to a breakdown in communication has allowed others to look at the outcome of yesterday’s remembrance parade with a negative outcome,” an Apprentice Boys spokesman said. It was the second time the song – banned in Scotland – had 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. The administrator at St Patrick’s on Donegall Street said he was disappointed at the conduct of the band but optimistic that talking would continue. However, Fr Michael Sheehan said people in the area were losing patience with the loyal orders 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. The Apprentice Boys said its members moved to stop the band from playing the song and expressed its concern ”



DUP leader wanted Parades Commission to be scrapped


SDLP justice spokesman Alban Maginness will use his party’s annual conference to accuse First Minister Peter Robinson of being ” irresponsible ” for calling for the Parades Commission to be scrapped ahead of a controversial Royal Black Institution march past a North Belfast Catholic church this summer.

In a speech to be delivered to the party faithful at the Armagh City Hotel on Saturday, the North Belfast assembly member will also say some of those taking part in August’s ‘ Last Saturday ‘ march past St Patrick‘s Church on Donegall Street were guilty of  ” shameful, sectarian misbehaviour “. The conference coincides with a disputed Apprentice Boys parade past the church this Saturday. Carrick Hill residents say the  Parade’s Commission determination issued this week ” overruled ” previous determinations relating to Loyal Order parades in the area. A determination issued by the commission in connection with the Apprentice Boys parade on August 11 stipulated that only a single drumbeat be played by bands on the contentious route. The parade comes after residents and the Apprentice Boys met for the first time last month in a bid to reach a deal ahead of Saturday’s march. Residents say they they now intend to hold a larger protest than originally planned.

During August’s Royal Black Institution parade violence erupted after more than 30 bands defied a Parades Commission ruling ordering that no music should be played while passing the church. Tensions in the area have been high since the Shankill Road – based Young Conway Volunteers were filmed walking in circles while playing the sectarian Famine Song outside St Patrick’s on July 12. In the days leading up to the controversial August parade, Mr Robinson and a number of other Unionist politicians signed a letter urging the then secretary of state Owen Paterson to get rid of the Parades Commission after it ruled no music should be played while it passes the church. Mr Maginness will also accuse Mr Robinson of being ” partisan ” when he speaks to party colleagues. ” This parade was preceded by a public letter to the secretary of state co-signed by the first minister attacking the Parades Commission itself and giving the bandsmen and marchers on ‘ Black Saturday ‘ encouragement to carry out a blanket defiance of the determination of the commission,” he will say. ” What an extraordinarily irresponsible and partisan act by our first minister. No wonder that the Young Conway band felt emboldened to defy it’s ban on participation in the parade.” He will also criticise DUP culture minister Nelson McCausland. ” In the aftermath of this, worse was to happen as minister Nelson McCausland attempted a rear guard action to defend the gross misbehaviour of the bandsmen and their supporters by describing it as ‘ civil disobedience ‘,” he will say. ” His defence of  ‘ Black Saturday ‘ brought himself and his office into disrepute and we, as a party, moved a ‘ no confidence ‘ motion against him.”




Band members were filmed playing contentious tunes while marching in circles outside the Catholic church

Band members were filmed playing contentious tunes while marching in circles outside the Catholic church

POLICE have questioned 14 members of a loyalist flute band, including a 15-year-old schoolboy, in relation to provocative behaviour outside a Belfast Catholic Church. The Young Conway Volunteers ( YCV ), based on Shankill Road, were filmed in July walking in circles and playing the sectarian Famine Song outside St Patrick‘s Church on Donegall Street.

The song, played to the tune of the Beach Boys ‘ Sloop John B, is banned in Scotland. One member of the band has also appeared in court charged with assaulting north Belfast community worker JJ Magee, who filmed the scenes on a mobile phone during the annual Twelfth of July loyalist march. Bandsman William Bell appeared in court earlier this month charged with common assault in relation to the incident. Police confirmed yesterday that they have arrested 11 people aged between 15 and 42 in North Belfast over the last two days in relation to the behaviour of loyalist bandsmen on the Twelfth.

Three further men were questioned about breaches of Parades Commission determination after presenting themselves with their legal representatives at Tennent Street police station for questioning. During the August 25 Royal Black Institution march past the church the YCV band defied a parades commission ruling banning them from the Donegall Street section of the route. Police did not take action to reroute the band at the time but said they would investigate the incident. Supporters and bandsmen engaged in openly sectarian behaviour during the ‘ Last Saturday ‘ parade as they passed the Catholic Church. The Black preceptory later apologised to the clergy and parishioners of St Patrick’s for the behaviour of some of those attending the parade. Representatives of the Loyal Orders also engaged in private talks with the parish priest of St Patrick’s Fr Michael Sheehan. An Ulster Covenant parade which passed the city centre church last month ended without serious incident. Breach of a parades ruling is not an arrestable offence and can only be proceeded with as a criminal charge via a Public Prosecution Service summons. All 14 males arrested were released pending police reports to the PPS. They are believed to be members of the YCV flute band.





THE chairman of a nationalist residents ‘ group questioned by police over an alleged breach of a Parades Commission determination has accused the PSNI of  ” caving in ” to pressure from unionist politicians.

Police interviewed Rasharkin Residents ‘ Collective chairman Sean Hanna last week about alleged breach’s of the determination linked to an Apprentice Boys parade through the mainly nationalist village during the summer. Residents held a protest when the parade was going through the Co Antrim village on August 17. ” It was political policing,” Mr Hanna said. ” I believe they [ the PSNI ] are being pressurised by unionist politicians to get arrests in this group and they are caving in under the pressure.” It is understood police also want to speak to at least six other people connected with the Rasharkin Residents ‘ Collective. Mr Hanna said police had accused him of walking through a so-called sterile zone they put in place to separate protesters and marchers ahead of the August parade. The residents ‘ spokesman said he had entered the zone only after police had blocked the route of nationalist protesters who were trying to make their way to the designated protest site in the Sunnyside Drive area of the village. Mr Hanna’s solicitor Seamus Delaney said his client had attended the police interview voluntarily. ” CCTV was viewed during the course of the interview and failed to disclose any offences by Mr Hanna,” he said. ” The PSNI also claimed during the interview that the investigation was initiated on the direction of the Parades Commission. ” Whilst not only were there no breaches of the determination by Mr Hanna, we have requested that the PSNI review the Parades Commission determination in respect of the allegation they have levelled against him and furthermore we are also seeking clarification in respect of who initiated the investigation against Mr Hanna.

A spokesman for the PSNI refused to comment regarding Mr Hanna. ” Police are involved in an ongoing investigation into the summer parading season in North Antrim,” he said. ” As this is a live investigation we are unable to give any further comment at this time.” The Parades Commission said it was a police matter. ” Criminal investigations and prosecutions of incidents relating to parades or alleged breaches of the commission’s determinations are entirely a matter for the PSNI and the criminal justice system,” a spokesman said. News of police interviewing Mr Hanna comes days after it emerged that three men have been questioned about breaches of a Parades Commission determination outside St Patrick’s Church on Donegall Street in central Belfast during a Royal Black Institution parade on August 25.

Parades Commission rules on Ulster Covenant Orange Order parade

Band outside St Patrick's Catholic church

Bands will only play hymns outside a north Belfast Catholic church

The Parades Commission has issued its ruling on Saturday’s Ulster Covenant parade.

Only hymns are to be played as bands pass St Patrick‘s Church in north Belfast and no loyalist supporters are to accompany the parade there.

A planned nationalist protest at the church is to number no more than 150 people, the commission has ruled.

The Orange Order has estimated 25,000 to 30,000 marchers will descend on Belfast city centre for the parade.

About 2,000 marchers will take part in the feeder parade which is due to go past St Patrick’s Church.

The Orange Order previously said bands taking part in the parade would only play hymns when passing the Catholic church on Donegall Street.

On 12 July a band was filmed marching in a circle outside the church, playing a tune perceived to be sectarian during a delay in the main Orange Order parade.

In August, bands defied a ruling banning music at the church. In the subsequent riots, seven police officers were injured.

The Commission’s ruling on hymns and supporters applies between Donegall Street and Royal Avenue and between Clifton Street and the Westlink junction.

Among other conditions imposed are that there will be no undue stoppages or delays and no paramilitary displays.

Only hymns are to be played when another feeder parade passes St Matthew’s Catholic Church in east Belfast.

The nationalist Carrick Hill residents are seeking legal advice with a view to a possible judicial review of the commission’s determination.

“I think it’s fair to say that the residents are disappointed – they wanted silence, no music down past St Patrick’s chapel,” Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly said.

“This was the determination the last time and they had some expectation it would be repeated, especially because the determination was broken en masse.”

The Orange Order’s Mervyn Gibson said the order would sit down and study the determination in detail.

“My first reaction is one of surprise that they have now extended it (the ruling on hymns) into east Belfast when the issue all along had been St Patrick’s Church.

“I can’t understand it. There was no problem.”

Orange appeal

Earlier, the Orange Order said it did not want the dispute around St Patrick’s Church to be the focus of the day.

It said the event will be one of the biggest it has organised.

Marchers and bands will meet at Belfast City Hall and then march to Stormont.

It is thought it will take two hours for all those involved to get through the gates.

The order has said it wants the day to remain peaceful and has urged anyone not involved in the feeder parade to stay away from the Donegall Street area.

The leaders of the two main unionist parties met the commission on Tuesday and Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness also spoke to members of the body.

In a joint statement, DUP and UUP leaders Peter Robinson and Mike Nesbitt urged all those attending the parade to behave with “dignity and honour”.

They said those protesting against it should do so in a lawful manner.

Mr McGuinness said it was “hugely disappointing” that the Orange Order “continue to choose to disrespect the residents of Carrick Hill by refusing to enter into dialogue with them”.

“Now is the time for political leaders to step forward and show leadership to ensure Saturday goes off peacefully,” he added.

Unionist commemoration

The march on 29 September is part of events marking 100 years since the signing of the Ulster Covenant.

The Covenant was signed by just under half a million men and women, on and before 28 September 1912.

It was signed in protest against the Third Home Rule Bill, which would have brought in an Irish parliament with responsibility for Irish domestic affairs.

Sir Edward Carson – a lawyer from Dublin and leader of the Irish Unionists – was the first person to sign the Covenant at the Belfast City Hall.

Signatories pledged to use “all means which may be found necessary to defeat the present conspiracy to set up a Home Rule parliament in Dublin”.

It it is seen as one of the key events in unionism.




THERE were hopes last night of a deal to prevent violence at a massive parade later this month after it emerged a contentious loyalist band will not pass a flashpoint. The Young Conway Volunteers will not march past St Patrick‘s Church in central Belfast but may join the Ulster Covenant centenary parade later on the route.

The Shankill – based band’s decision came as the Orange Order released what is being seen as a conciliatory statement inviting the Bishop of Down and Connor, Dr Noel Treanor, and clergy and parishioners of St Patrick’s to visit its headquarters at Schomberg House. It said bands passing the church on September 29th would play only hymns. More than 20,000 participants are expected in the parade which will take hours to pass through the city centre. The Irish News understands that meetings between Carrick Hill Residents Association and the Catholic Church representatives including St Patrick’s administrator Fr Michael Sheehan were held yesterday in an effort to resolve outstanding issues. Mervyn Gibson chaplain to the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, said the order had held ” quiet conversations ” with Catholic clergy.

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said the order should meet residents. ” Conversations to resolve these issues must involve those who file for the parade, the Grand Lodge and those who file for the related protest, the Carrick Hill Residents Association,” he said. ” That has not happened and the Orange Order need to explain why they have not taken this step.” Tensions have been high in north Belfast since the Twelfth of July when the Young Conway Volunteers were filmed marching in circles outside St Patrick’s while playing the Famine Song and other sectarian tunes. There was violence on August 25th when the band ignored a Parades Commission ruling forbidding them to march past the church. More than 30 other bands also flouted a ruling by playing music. Chaplain to the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, last night confirmed the band would not be taking part in the September 29th parade past the church. He said the Orange Order did not stop the band from passing the church and admitted it would join the main procession on another section of the route. ” They decided themselves and will be in another part of the parade,” Mr Gibson said. ” We did not tell them, they were not involved in that part of the parade. However, the OrangeOrder has refused to meet representatives of Carrick Hill Residents Association which has applied to hold a protest in opposition to the Ulster Covenant parade as it passes St Patrick’s.

North Belfast Sinn Fein assembly member Gerry Kelly last night also said ” that has not happened and the Orange Order need to explain why they have not taken this step. ” Time is running out for a resolution with the parade less than two weeks away.” North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said the decision to play only hymn music was ” positive and constructive “. ” It is welcome that there have been quiet but constructive conversations between the institution and others with clergy and parishioners of St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church,” he said. A spokesman for the Parades Commission, which is due to meet today to consider the parade, said a decision could be deferred if progress was made behind the scenes. ” While the commission’s guidelines recommend that its determinations are issued five days in advance of a parade taking place, there is scope to defer a decision if this would help those involved reach a local understanding,” a spokesman said.


This is what the YCV band are up to now , they have been reprimanded by the parades commission for playing outside St Patricks Chapel, they say they will march & play again past the Chapel .

This is what the YCV band are up to now , they have been reprimanded by the parades commission for playing outside St Patricks Chapel, they say they will march & play again past the Chapel .