Belfast Telegraph

Orange Order tell loyalist bandsmen: only hymns while passing St Patrick's church on Donegall Street

By Steven Alexander

The Orange Order has told loyalist bandsmen that they should only play hymns while passing a Catholic Church that has become a sectarian flashpoint.

Belfast County Grand Lodge also said that steps would be taken to ensure no one on parade stopped outside St Patrick's church on Donegall Street, Belfast.

The initiative applies to six parades, starting from Friday, June 20 until October 26.

It includes the annual Twelfth of July parade, when trouble first blew up in 2012 as loyalist bandsmen marched in a circle outside St Patrick's while playing.

Nationalists who oppose the parade accused the Young Conway Volunteers of sectarianism for playing The Famine Song, although loyalists claimed it was Sloop John B by the Beach Boys.

A version of the song with alternative sectarian lyrics is sung by loyalists to insult nationalists.

Serious trouble flared outside the church in August 2012 and seven police officers were hurt. Since then, the Parades Commission has placed restrictions on what music can be played near the church – although the rules have been occasionally breached.

North Belfast DUP MLA William Humphrey said: "The Orange Institution has been pro-active and positive in the steps taken in an attempt to find a resolution.

"Unfortunately such measures have too often found no reciprocation from nationalists and a Parades Commission which has bowed to the threat of dissident violence."

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