Belfast Telegraph

Monday 31 August 2015

Tricolour row at Downpatrick St Patrick's Day parade

By Lesley-Anne Henry

Published 18/03/2011

Sinn Fein councillor Eamonn Mac Con Midhe unfurls the tricolour at the start of the St Patricks Day Parade in Downpatrick 2011
Sinn Fein councillor Eamonn Mac Con Midhe unfurls the tricolour at the start of the St Patricks Day Parade in Downpatrick 2011
St Patrick's Day Cross Community Carnival Parade - Downpatrick 17 March 2011
St Patrick's Day Cross Community Carnival Parade - Downpatrick 17 March 2011
St Patrick's Day Cross Community Carnival Parade - Downpatrick 17 March 2011
St Patrick's Day Cross Community Carnival Parade - Downpatrick 17 March 2011
St Patrick's Day Cross Community Carnival Parade - Downpatrick 17 March 2011
St Patrick's Day Cross Community Carnival Parade - Downpatrick 17 March 2011
St Patrick's Day Cross Community Carnival Parade - Downpatrick 17 March 2011
St Patrick's Day Cross Community Carnival Parade - Downpatrick 17 March 2011
St Patrick's Day Cross Community Carnival Parade - Downpatrick 17 March 2011
St Patrick's Day Cross Community Carnival Parade - Downpatrick 17 March 2011
St Patrick's Day Cross Community Carnival Parade - Downpatrick 17 March 2011
St Patrick's Day Cross Community Carnival Parade - Downpatrick 17 March 2011
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. A pipe band leads the parade through the city centre.
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
Stacey Solomon sings in Belfast City Centre.
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's Day in Belfast city centre 2011
Lemar sings in Belfast City Centre
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. The parade makes it's way through the city centre.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. A young piper in the PSNI Pipe band makes his way through the city centre with the parade.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. A piper in the PSNI Pipe band makes his way through the city centre with the parade.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. People involved in the parade make there way through the city centre.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. Left to right. Anna Gonzlez, Angela Mora, Rocio Cruz from Spain.
People line the streets of Belfast for the annual St Patrick's Day parade. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 17, 2011. Celebrations are taking place in towns and cities across Northern Ireland to mark St Patrick's Day. In Belfast a colourful march left City Hall led by pipe bands and featuring environment-themed floats. Thousands of people have lined the streets of the city centre for the annual procession. See PA story ULSTER Parade. Photo credit should read: Paul Faith/PA Wire
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and makeing it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. Seven-year-old Lois Lynch from Belfast.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and makeing it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. Seven-year-old Corey Light from Belfast.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and makeing it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. Shane Friend(left) and his son Dan(right) from Belfast with Carman Acutina from the Philippines.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. The parade makes it's way through the city centre.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. The parade makes it's way through the city centre.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. The parade makes it's way through the city centre.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. The parade makes it's way through the city centre.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. The parade makes it's way through the city centre.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. The parade makes it's way through the city centre.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. People enjoy the parade as it makes it's way through the city centre.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and making it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. The parade makes it's way through the city centre.
St Patrick's day parade in Belfast City centre 2011
St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and makeing it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. Seven-year-old Lois Lynch from Belfast.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and makeing it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. Left to right. Clementine Billet, Isabelle Maldera and Delphine Marcodini from near Lyon in France.
©Jonathan Porter/Presseye.com - Press Eye Ltd -Northern Ireland - 17th March 2011. St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast City Centre with a parade leaving the City Hall and makeing it's way to Custom House Square for an open air concert. William Ford from south east England.
St Patrick's Day parade in Belfast. 2011.
St Patrick's Day parade in Belfast. 2011.
St Patrick's Day parade in Belfast. 2011.
St Patrick's Day parade in Belfast. 2011.
St Patrick's Day parade in Belfast. 2011.
St Patrick's Day parade in Belfast. 2011.
St Patrick's Day parade in Belfast. 2011.
St Patrick's Day parade in Belfast. 2011.
St Patrick's Day parade in Belfast. 2011.
Racegoers take part in an impromptue ceilidh during St Patrick's Day at Cheltenham Racecourse.
Racegoers take part in an impromptue ceilidh during St Patrick's Day at Cheltenham Racecourse. March 17, 2011. To launch picture gallery click image above
Racegoers take part in an impromptue ceilidh during St Patrick's Day at Cheltenham Racecourse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 17, 2011. See PA story RACING Cheltenham. Photo credit should read: David Jones/PA Wire.
A racegoer studies the form during St Patrick's Day at Cheltenham Racecourse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 17, 2011. See PA story RACING Cheltenham. Photo credit should read: David Jones/PA Wire.
Gloucestershire Police Inspectors Steve Templeton and Karen Ellis join in with the St. Patrick's Day spirit at Cheltenham Racecourse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 17, 2011. See PA story RACING Cheltenham. Photo credit should read: David Jones/PA Wire.
The Chicago River is dyed green for St. Patrick's Day parade in Chicago
St Patrick's Day
St Patrick's Day 2010: Derry
St Patrick's Day 2010: Armagh
St Patrick's Day 2010: Derry
St Patrick's Day celebrations take place in Belfast. Left to right. Alice McGirr, Aoibheann Shiels, Maeve Flanagan and Sinead McLaughlin pictured in Belfast City Centre. 2010
St Patrick's Day 2010: Derry
St Patrick's Day 2010: Derry
St Patrick's Day 2010: Derry
St Patrick's Day 2010: Derry
St Patrick's Day 2010: Derry
St Patrick's Day 2010: Derry
St Patrick's Day 2010: Belfast
St Patrick's Day Armagh. 2010
St Patrick's Day Armagh. 2010
St Patrick's Day Armagh. 2010
St Patrick's Day, Armagh. 2010
St Patrick's Day 2010: London
St Patrick's Day 2010: Belfast
St Patrick's Day 2010: Belfast
St Patrick's Day 2010: Belfast
St Patrick's Day 2010: Belfast
St Patrick's Day 2010: Belfast
St Patrick's Day 2010: Belfast
St Patrick's Day 2010: Belfast
St Patrick's Day 2010: Downpatrick
St Patrick's Day 2010: Downpatrick
St Patrick's Day 2010: Downpatrick
St Patrick's Day 2010: Downpatrick
St Patrick's Day 2010: Downpatrick
St Patrick's Day 2010: Belfast
St Patrick's Day 2010: Belfast
St Patrick's Day 2010: Belfast
St Patrick's Day 2010: Downpatrick
St Patrick's Day 2010: Downpatrick
St Patrick's Day 2010: Downpatrick
St Patrick's Day 2010: Downpatrick
St Patrick's Day 2010: London
St Patrick's Day 2010: London
St Patrick's Day 2010: London
St Patrick's Day 2010: London
St Patrick's Day 2010: London
St Patrick's Day 2010: Nottingham
St Patrick's Day 2010: Nottingham
St Patrick's Day 2010: Nottingham

Community relations have been set back decades after an Irish tricolour was flown at a St Patrick’s Day parade in Downpatrick, it has been claimed.

Seven schools pulled out of the Co Down cross-community event yesterday amid fears there could be trouble when efforts to dissuade republicans from carrying the Irish flag failed.

A row erupted after Sinn Fein’s Eamonn Mac Con Midhe announced he no longer supported Down District Council’s 25-year policy of flying the red and white Cross of St Patrick, which he claimed had “a military background”.

Instead, he said he would fly the Irish tricolour at the front of the pageant.

And, despite 180 children being left disappointed, Mr Mac Con Midhe said he did not regret his hardline stance.

“The schools pulled out under health and safety issues, not because of the flag,” he told the Belfast Telegraph after yesterday’s parade.

“They were scared there was going to be trouble. The flag didn’t make them pull out, it was the rumour of trouble and we’ll have to get to the bottom of who started that rumour. The parade went off exceptionally well. There were a lot of cheers.

“One or two people had something to say but there weren’t too many. There was a lot of scaremongering about trouble, but that was negated on the day.

“How could community relations be set back 25 years because of a flag? The DUP, UUP and SDLP now need to get into the issues of accommodation.”

Traditionally, around 30,000 spectators attend the annual St Patrick’s Day festival through Downpatrick, the reputed burial site of Ireland’s patron saint. Some 65 groups and a large number of floats took part this year.

The St Patrick flag, a red cross on a white background, was adopted by Down District Council 25 years ago to secure cross-community support for the celebrations. However, DUP MLA for South Down Jim Wells, who attended the Downpatrick event, said the situation had been reversed.

“They produced an enormous tricolour,” he said. “I have to ask, did it have to be the size of Croke Park? It must have cost them a fortune.

“Northern Ireland's only cross-community St Patrick's Day parade seems destined to follow the example of other March 17 events in Northern Ireland where the Protestant community encounters an extremely hostile atmosphere.

“I understand that councillor Mac Con Midhe objected to the flying of St Patrick's flag at the event. However, I and other councillors were happy to replace this with the council flag to help defuse the tense situation.

“The fact that Sinn Fein councillors rejected this compromise confirms the widely held view that this whole affair is a political stunt to drum up support for Sinn Fein at the forthcoming elections.”

It’s understood the children, who prepared costumes and music as part of a Peace III initiative, will perform at a later date.

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