Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Orange march probe after Sash is played by band near St Matthew's Catholic church

Orange march at the weekend
Orange march at the weekend
Orange Order.  12th July 1988.  Officers from District LOL No. 6 break from the parade to lay wreaths at the security gates at Royal Avenue, Belfast, in memory of Privates James Cumming and Fred Starrett, who were killed by the IRA.
Orange Order. 12th July 1988. Officers from District LOL No. 6 break from the parade to lay wreaths at the security gates at Royal Avenue, Belfast, in memory of Privates James Cumming and Fred Starrett, who were killed by the IRA.

The PSNI is investigating a complaint that sectarian music was played outside a Catholic church during an Orange march at the weekend, in breach of Parades Commission determinations.

The Sash was played as marchers walked past St Matthew’s Church in the nationalist Short Strand area of east Belfast on Saturday during a UDR commemoration parade.

Around 1,000 people took part in the parade to mark the murders of two UDR soldiers in Belfast 25 years ago.

The Parades Commission had ruled that no provocative music was to be played near the chapel, no paramilitary uniforms to be worn and no paramilitary flags to be carried.

Nationalist residents, however, have complained that some bands played The Sash as they passed St Matthew’s Church.

The PSNI said that officers were present throughout the march and that they gathered evidence of the parade.

That evidence will be examined to determine if there were any breaches of Parades Commission rulings.

“Any alleged breaches of the Parades Commission determination will be investigated and a report will be forwarded to both the Parades Commission and the Public Prosecution Service,” a PSNI spokesman said.

The commemorative parade for James Cummings and Fred Starrett — who died when a booby-trap bomb detonated at Royal Avenue in February 1988 — left Templemore Avenue in the east of the city and finished with a memorial service outside Castle Court in the city centre.

A large police operation had been launched to help ensure the parade would pass off without major incident, following several outbreaks of violence in recent months at the loyalist Lower Newtownards Road and Short Strand interface over the union flag row.

Flag protests were also held in Belfast on Saturday, however the numbers of participants appears to have dropped significantly.

Just over 20 protesters gathered at PSNI headquarters in east Belfast after they agreed to switch their demonstration from the City Hall so as not to disrupt the UDR parade.

A crowd of around 100 flag protesters gathered at the City Hall a short time after the Orange Order march passed through the city centre.

On Friday, PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott came under fire from republicans over the PSNI’s handling of the union flag protests.

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly accused Mr Baggott of having “lost the plot” and said he was facilitating illegal protests.

Mr Baggott defended the tactics that have been adopted by police since the union flag protests started in December and said the problem could not be “simply arrested away”.

Background

An Orange Order parade through east Belfast into the city centre passed off without major incident on Saturday.

However the PSNI is investigating complaints that provocative music was played by marchers outside a Catholic Church.

The parade was held to mark the murder of two UDR soldiers in Belfast 25 years ago.

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