Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Loyalist bands for Celtic festival: Move follows successful participation at All-Ireland Fleadh in Derry

Derek Moore, co-ordinator of Londonderry Bands Forum
Derek Moore, co-ordinator of Londonderry Bands Forum

Loyalist marching bands are set to perform in the Guildhall Square during this year's Pan Celtic festival when it opens in Derry at Easter.

The move follows the hugely successful participation of bands traditionally associated with Orange culture in last year's Fleadh.

The move is part of an initiative by the Londonderry Bands Forum to change perceptions of the movement, often seen as sectarian and militant.

There are dozens of bands in the north west, and opinions are formed based on what is portrayed on TV on a few days of the year, according to the forum's co-ordinator, Derek Moore.

The Bands Forum was set up in 2012 to bring together bandmembers from across the city.

An event held at the Holywell Trust in Derry was just the latest in a number of pioneering projects that the forum has organised.

Last year Protestant bands in the north west broke new ground when they took part in a number of events during the All-Ireland Fleadh in Derry.

Mr Moore said: "People can have very definite ideas about Protestant bands, which are far removed from the reality.

"Being a member of a band teaches young people more than learning how to play a musical instrument, it also teaches them discipline, respect for themselves and others as well.

"There is more to any band than what is shown on television a few days of the year and one of the many projects, bands in the north west have been taking part in is a cross-community work with the people from Culturlan.

"This present event is just a natural progression from that work, it is about educating the wider public and taking people beyond the stereotype and letting them see the bigger picture when they think about marching bands."

The initiative was organised jointly between the Londonderry Bands Forum and Derry City Council community relations team, who have jointly published a Marching Bands activity sheet for young people aged 10 to 15.

QUOTES

"Often people are unaware that the tradition of marching bands spans across the 'traditional divide'. In the Irish tradition the Catholic temperance movement historically supported the development of marching bands culture. Many people may be unaware of the charity, community and cross-community work of bands, or the regular effort of young people put in to attending music practices and developing instrumental skills."

Sue Divin, community relations officer

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