DUP and Sinn Fein in war of words over loyalist band’s shameful display outside Catholic church
The bitter fallout from a loyalist band display at a Catholic church raged on yesterday as it was confirmed the “dance” will be studied by the Parades Commission.
The DUP and Sinn Fein continued to swap blows over the incident outside St Patrick’s on Donegall Street during the main Belfast July 12 morning parade, which the Orange Order has said it is also investigating.
On his personal blog, DUP Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland argued: “The whole affair has been exploited by Sinn Fein in an opportunistic attempt to divert attention away from the sectarian behaviour of Irish nationalists at Carrick Hill and even more so from the extreme violence of republican hooligans and dissident republican gunmen at Ardoyne.
“The Sinn Fein propaganda machine went into action and an unquestioning media pumped out a garbled and erroneous version of events,” Mr McCausland added.
Sinn Fein councillor Conor Maskey branded the comments an “utter disgrace” and countered: “(Mr McCausland) should hang his head in shame. Instead of attempting to gloss over and excuse such sickening and offensive behaviour, he should be condemning it.
“Not only has he done himself a disservice with this load of nonsense, but he has also further discredited the Orange Order and the DUP in the eyes of the wider public.”
The exchange came as Parades Commission member and former Orange Order chaplain Rev Brian Kennaway described the display as “totally inappropriate” and said the body would look at how it was allowed to happen.
“We'll look at all the reports that we have — all the monitor's reports, the police reports — and we will take everything into consideration,” he said.
A spokesman for the Belfast County Grand Orange Lodge said that the band had stopped outside the church because of a delay in the main procession.
Members of the Young Conway Volunteers Flute Band, from the Shankill Road area, marched in a circle outside the Catholic church playing sectarian tunes.
Two separate videos were posted on YouTube.
At one point the band, who stalled for 15 minutes outside the church, played the The Famine Song, an anti-Catholic tune which originated in Glasgow.
At the end of one of the videos, the man recording it — Sinn Fein activist JJ Magee (49) — is threatened by men wearing Orange sashes. One man brandishing a wooden walking stick said: “You f***ing take yourself off. I am warning you. I’ll knock your b******s off.”
Mr Magee, from north Belfast, said he had filmed the band with his mobile phone as he thought they were being provocative.
“I noticed out of the side of my eye two guys approaching me.
“They verbally abused me, then started to throw punches and tried to kick me,” he said.
Mr Magee was not injured in the attack. However, a police officer who was nearby had to draw his baton to defuse the situation.
Meanwhile, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams continued his efforts to achieve a meeting with Orange leaders who have refused to talk to Sinn Fein, as well as to the commission.
“The Orange Order needs to step forward and make their contribution to the peace process. That means dialogue with residents. It also means dialogue with Sinn Fein,” he said.
“The work to prevent a repeat of this week's violence must begin now,” Mr Adams added.
The renewed call came as it became clear the Order is to be asked to look again at an alternative plan for dealing with parades, agreed between the DUP and Sinn Fein — and rejected by the Grand Lodge of Ireland — two years ago.