Belfast Telegraph

Restrictions on marches in bid to stem violence at flashpoints

BY CHRIS KILPATRICK

Restrictions have been placed on a loyal order march past a parading flashpoint after violence erupted during a similar demonstration on the same date last year.

Four districts of the Belfast Grand Black Chapter will take part in the parade on Sunday, August 25, which will pass St Patrick's Catholic Church in Donegall Street.

On August 25 last year a parade by the Royal Black Institution was marred by violence which broke out close to the church.

Seven police officers were injured when trouble erupted after bands defied Parades Commission rulings and played music as they marched past St Patrick's.

The restrictions were put in place after a loyalist band was filmed playing a sectarian song while matching in a circle outside the church on the Twelfth last year.

Marchers will assemble at Crumlin Road and make their way along Carlisle Circus, Clifton Street and Donegall Street to Shaftesbury Square and Donegall Pass. Around 300 people will participate in the parade.

The Parades Commission has ruled that "only respectful hymns" be played between the junction of the Westlink and Clifton Street, and the junction of Union Street and Donegall Street.

No supporters are permitted to accompany the parade along the same stretch, which includes St Patrick's Church.

Two groups will stage protests against the parade.

Fifty people from Carrick Hill Concerned Residents can protest at Donegall Street and the same number from Trinity Street to Clifton Street. The New Lodge and North Queen Street Concerned Residents' Group will also stage a protest.

Fifty people are permitted to take part in the demonstration from the junction of Clifton Street and North Queen Street.

The Parades Commission is set to release its determination on a republican parade in north Belfast on the same day later today.

The march is being organised by the Henry Joy McCracken Flute Band.

It is planning a parade consisting of 500 people and seven bands through north Belfast, from Ardoyne to Carrick Hill.

There was widespread rioting following a similar parade last September which resulted in 50 police sustaining injuries.

Trouble erupted as officers attempted to keep a loyalist crowd back from the republican band parade.

Last Easter a parade by the same band was embroiled in controversy when gunshots were fired.

Several hundred people attended the rally in Ardoyne organised by the Republican Network for Unity and the Henry Joy McCracken Flute Band.

Three boys of primary school age wore paramilitary-style dress of berets, dark glasses and gloves.

They led the dissident republican parade and marched in military formation to a republican mural where a gunman appeared from the crowd and fired shots into the air.

BACKGROUND

St Patrick's Church on Donegall Street became a focal point during parades in north Belfast after trouble flared last summer. On the Twelfth of July last year a loyalist band was filmed playing a sectarian tune while marching in a circle outside the place of worship. Then, in August, skirmishes broke out following another parade by the Royal Black Institution.

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