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Prince of Wales gives £2,000 to marching disputes church

Published 28/12/2015

The Prince of Wales visited St Patrick's Church in Belfast earlier this year
The Prince of Wales visited St Patrick's Church in Belfast earlier this year
Prince Charles and Camilla attend a service at St Patrick’s Church in Belfast
The Prince of Wales, during a visit to St Patrick's Church, in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The Prince of Wales, waves as he walks out of St Patrick's Church, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, with Fr Michael Sheehan, as the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, attend a series of engagements in Northern Ireland following their two day visit in the Republic of Ireland. PA
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 21: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales greets well wishers as he visits St Patrick's Church on May 21, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall will attend a series of engagements in Northern Ireland following their two day visit in the Republic of Ireland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, during a visit to St Patrick's Church, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, as the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, attend a series of engagements in Northern Ireland following their two day visit in the Republic of Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 21, 2015. The Prince of Wales has visited a Catholic church in Belfast that has been at the centre of a series of bitter marching disputes involving Protestant loyal orders and loyalist bands. St Patrick's Church has witnessed disorder and discord in recent years, with some parading loyalist bandsmen accused of provocative and sectarian behaviour while passing the place of worship. The visit of the prince and the Duchess of Cornwall will be seen as another symbolic gesture by a Royal family keen to contribute to reconciliation in Northern Ireland. See PA story ROYAL Ireland. Photo credit should read: Jeff J Mitchell/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales shakes hands with Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness as he visits St Patrick's Church in Belfast
Prince of Wales visits St Malachy's Church: Pictured with Charles is Dr Patrick Walsh, Bishop Emeritus of Down and Connor

The Prince of Wales has donated £2,000 to a Catholic Church at the centre of bitter marching disputes involving Protestant loyal orders in Northern Ireland.

Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall toured the historic Belfast place of worship in May in a gesture of reconciliation.

St Patrick's Church has witnessed disorder and discord in recent years, with some parading loyalist bandsmen accused of provocative and sectarian behaviour while passing by. The money is expected to be used for renovation work.

A total of 13 members of one loyalist band have been convicted of playing a sectarian tune while marching in a circle on Donegall Street outside St Patrick's in 2012.

The bandsmen, accompanying parading Orangemen, were found guilty of playing the Famine Song, which is played to the same tune as the Beach Boys' Sloop John B but with anti-Catholic lyrics.

The convictions were subsequently overturned on appeal, although the bandsmen were bound over to keep the peace.

It marked the first of a series of flashpoint incidents at the church. Weeks later, disorder broke out after another parading controversy.

In subsequent summers, restrictions have been placed on loyal order parades passing the church, with residents from nearby nationalist neighbourhoods staging protests against the loyal orders and loyalist bands.

Loyal orders claim their lawful right to parade has been restricted and have insisted they have offered concessions in regard to limiting band music to hymns.

St Patrick's priest Fr Michael Sheehan said the parish was fundraising to repair the church's disintegrating stonework.

Members of the Young Conway Volunteers play the Famine Song outside St Patrick’s Church
Members of the Young Conway Volunteers play the Famine Song outside St Patrick’s Church
Police officers attempt to stop fighting between loyalist and nationalist groups outside outside St Patrick's Roman Catholic Church in Belfast 2012 (AP)
Scenes from outside St Patrick's Church Donegall Street, Belfast July 2012
Scenes from outside St Patrick's Church Donegall Street, Belfast July 2012
Royal Black Preceptory parade through Belfast City Centre. The annual parade, which was being held in the centre of Belfast for the first time, had restrictions placed upon it by the Parades Commission. No music was allowed to be played when passing St Patricks Church on Donegall street. Trouble flares during the parade at St Patrick's Church when nationalist residents clashed with loyalist supporters.
Scenes from outside St Patrick's Church Donegall Street, Belfast July 2012
Nationalist residents holding a protest opposite St Patrick's Church
Scenes from outside St Patrick's Church Donegall Street, Belfast July 2012
A loyalist band marches past St Patrick's Church.
Shankill YCV flute band walks past St Patrick's Church
Trouble flares during the parade at St Patrick's Church
Royal Black Preceptory parade through Belfast City Centre
A police officer is injured as loyalists and nationalists clash outside St.Patricks Church Donegall Street
Scenes from outside St Patrick's Church Donegall Street, Belfast July 2012
Scenes from outside St Patrick's Church Donegall Street, Belfast July 2012
Scenes from outside St Patrick's Church Donegall Street, Belfast July 2012
Winston Irvine outside St.Patricks Church Donegall Street
Trouble flares during the parade at St Patrick's Church
Children pictured in the Shankill estate before the parade forms up
A police man announces the Parades Commission's restrictions as the parade goes past St Patrick's Church

He added: "Regrettably, its future is in jeopardy as its facade is worn and crumbling, and in need of major repair.

"The first phase of works is estimated to cost in the region of £1.5 million, with total works likely to exceed a colossal £5 million.

"The priests and people of St Patrick's have been encouraged in their fundraising efforts by incredibly generous benefactions. These have come from a variety of private donors and charitable bodies.

"Early this autumn, the parish received a gift of £2,000 from HRH The Prince of Wales, who earlier this year paid an historic visit to St. Patrick's."

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