An Orangeman has issued a defiant message to the Parades Commission at the end of the marching season.
Police have said they are investigating evidence gathered at Sunday’s Protestant Reformation commemoration, and any breaches of the commission’s determination will be reported to the Public Prosecution Service.
Bands defied a Parades Commission ruling that only a single drumbeat be played from Westlink to Clifton Street junctions — and along the same stretch on the return route.
Sam McCrory, a past master of Clifton Street’s Tyndale LOL 1869, said bands played music along the stretch as a protest.
Mr McCrory said: “It was done as a protest to the pro-apartheid organisation, otherwise known as the Parades Commission.
“Because it seems to be that we now have an apartheid system in Northern Ireland where we are, and excuse the terminology, where we are the blacks. That’s the way we feel.”
Describing the ruling as “stupid”, he claimed the move was not intended to offend protesters from Carrick Hill Concerned Residents Association, who held banners along the contentious stretch from Clifton St to St Patrick’s Church on Donegall Street.
Around 50 protesters watched in silence as the bands played amid a heavy police presence.
Sean Maskey from Carrick Hill Concerned Residents Association said: “It’s just disrespect again. I’m not surprised.”
The association said it had scaled down its protest. Frank Dempsey, the association’s chairman, also pointed to “a big question mark” over music played by the last band passing St Patrick’s Church.
The Parades Commission had ruled that only hymns could be played along Donegall Street.
“The last band, it was just complete drumming,” Mr Dempsey claimed. “There was no hymn.”
Fr Michael Sheehan, parish priest of St Patrick’s, also said he “did not recognise” music played by the last band.
The Parades Commission said it will be asking police for a report on the annual commemoration.
A PSNI spokesman added: “Evidence has been gathered by officers at the scene of today’s annual Reformation parade.
“Any breaches of a Parades Commission determination will be reported to the Public Prosecution Service.”
The route past St Patrick’s has been a flashpoint since July 12.
Relief as march passes peacefully
Clouds gathered over north Belfast on a cold, overcast October day, but the storm did not materialise.
Nor did fears that Sunday’s annual Protestant Reformation commemoration parade — which passed through Northern Ireland’s latest flashpoint— would be marred by trouble.
Families and supporters braved a biting wind to watch the parade amid a heavy police presence along the half-mile route from Carlisle Circus to Donegall Street.
On Denmark Street, the scene of last month’s rioting, bandsmen gave a last roll on their drums before joining the parade which made its way from the Crumlin Road.
It was a relatively quiet affair following the scenes witnessed at parades which passed the same flashpoint this summer.
Placards posted along the route listed the restrictions marchers were supposed to observe. But as bandsmen shuffled into line to pick up the passing parade at Carlisle Circus, Sam McCrory, past master of Clifton Street’s Tyndale LOL 1869, was confident the day would be trouble-free.
He said: “You have seen it at the Covenant parade. Both people wanted it to pass off peacefully and it did.”