Belfast Telegraph

Outrage at jail term for 'Sash' player

By Dave Whelan

A Three-month jail term handed down to a Holywood man for playing the sash outside a Catholic church has been branded as "draconian" by a DUP MLA.

Nelson McCausland was commenting after Thomas Beresford (21) from Strathearn Court was found guilty of deliberately breaking a Parades Commission determination by playing the song at St Matthew's Church on the Newtownards Road in east Belfast.

"Whilst the rule of law should be respected and upheld, I am at a loss to understand why such a tough and disproportionate sentence should have been handed down," said Mr McCausland.

"The day of the Ulster Covenant centenary parade passed virtually without incident and was an enjoyable day for all involved."

"It is regrettable that at a time when much more serious alleged offences are not being brought before a judge that someone should be jailed for playing a traditional tune."

Sinn Fein councillor Niall O Donnghaile questioned why it had taken so long to for prosecutions to be brought against those who had broken parade determinations.

"The reality is that, for the last number of years, almost every single Parades Commission determination placed on processions past St Matthew's Church and the Short Strand area has been ignored, flouted and breached," he said.

"It must be stated that all residents in this area ask from the respective marching Orders is that they treat this community with respect."

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