Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

No repeat of trouble at St Patrick's Church flashpoint

Apprentice Boys parade passes St Patrick's Church
Apprentice Boys parade passes St Patrick's Church

The marching season got off to a low-key start as a contentious band parade passed a city centre flashpoint without major incident.

A group of protesters watched as the West Belfast Volunteers flute band marched past St Patrick's Church on Donegall Street yesterday, accompanied by around 60 Apprentice Boys.

Last July disorder broke out in the area after a different band was filmed playing a sectarian tune while walking in circles outside the church.

By contrast, yesterday's parade was largely without incident – although a suspect device did cause disruption on the outward leg.

The device was found by police on the Crumlin Road causing them to cordon off the area while Army bomb experts investigated the object.

When the Apprentice Boys Ligoniel Walker Club parade did get the go-ahead, it passed off without incident.

It was en route to the main Easter parade in Enniskillen.

There was a protest by the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective and Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association.

The parade returned shortly after 6.30pm, again watched by around 50 protesters. They stood on the roadside opposite the church, abiding by a Parades Commission ruling which banned them from standing in front of the church during the march.

Some clutched a banner which read 'Respect St Patrick's Church' as the band marched past to a single drum beat.

Last July there was disorder close to the church after a band was filmed playing the sectarian 'Famine Song' while marching in a circle outside the church, infuriating residents and massgoers.

The main event took place in Enniskillen with up to 15,000 people gathered in the Co Fermanagh town. It was organised by the South West Ulster Amalgamated Committee.

A religious service took place at Hollyhill car park at noon before a parade of the town.

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