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Royal Black bandsmen fined £150 each for playing music outside chapel

Five members of the Royal Black Institution have been convicted of knowingly breaching a ban on flute bands playing music outside a Catholic church in Belfast.

They were each fined £150 after a judge found them guilty of failing to comply with conditions imposed on the march either as organisers or participants.

A sixth defendant was acquitted because he was held to be unaware of the restrictions. Charges were brought against all six over the 'Black Saturday' parade in August 2012.

Following previous controversy on the route, a prohibition had been placed on band tunes being played outside St Patrick's church on Donegall Street.

Several flute band members have already been prosecuted for knowingly breaching the restriction.

A prosecution lawyer argued that the Royal Black members should also be found guilty on the basis of a joint enterprise with those who played the tunes.

The defendants' solicitor insisted there was nothing to show his clients knew they were doing anything wrong.

He argued that none of them could be held responsible for breaching the Parades Commission determination because the organisational role lay with the Belfast Grand Black Chapter as a corporate authority rather than individuals.

However, guilty verdicts were yesterday returned against Thomas Foster (60), of Woodvale Avenue; William Mawhinney (67), of Ainsworth Avenue; Alan McIntosh (60), of Kilcoole Park; Raymond Spiers (56), from Castlereagh Road – all in Belfast – and Brian Kerr (42), of Fairview Gardens, Newtownabbey.

District Judge George Conner said: "Those who are responsible and hold office in an organisation have a responsibility to ensure those who take part in parades do so lawfully."

Belfast Telegraph