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Sinn Fein councillor 'won't report Scouts' for parade clash with service in chapel

By Staff Reporter

A Sinn Fein councillor has played down reports that she threatened to refer a Scout parade in Enniskillen to the Parades Commission.

Councillor Debbie Coyle said some of her constituents had complained that noise from a 300-strong parade in the Co Fermanagh town last month had prevented them hearing the priest at a confirmation service for 100 local children.

Speaking at a council meeting this week, councillor Coyle said: "As this band was going past St Michael's, it carried on playing and people at the back of the chapel - with over 100 children in attendance and not a spare seat in the place - couldn't hear what was going on at the front."

At the meeting, according to local paper the Impartial Reporter, one councillor told Ms Coyle to "take it up with the Parades Commission".

"Through the Chair, I am", councillor Coyle replied, "I just think it is a shame that it happened", the newspaper reported.

But last night councillor Coyle told the Belfast Telegraph she had no intention of reporting the Scout parade - a fixture in Enniskillen's calendar for more than 35 years - to the Parades Commission.

She said she had been visited by a representative from St Macartan's Cathedral, who had apologised for a timing mix-up which meant that the Scout parade proceeded before the service across the road in St Michael's had ended.

"I was not criticising the parade," the Enniskillen councillor said last night.

"I'm not going to the Parades Commission over this.

"The issue was around two things organised at the same time. I've had someone from the church come down and explain to me what had happened, and apologise for any annoyance that happened to any of the families whose children were being confirmed.

"As far as I'm concerned, the issue is settled. Apologies have been given by the church and the Scouts, so for me there's not an issue. We just need to make sure that things don't clash with each other.

"Both the church and the Scouts have apologised for any inconvenience caused, and I think that if you've made a mistake and you apologise that should be the end of it."

Katrina Armstong, Fermanagh Scouts County Commissioner said the parade had been properly notified to the Parades Commission - and that a timing mix-up had meant the two church services had overlapped.

She said: "Our service was originally timed to finish 15 minutes before the service in St Michael's.

"We were aware that a service was happening in the chapel across the road. Unfortunately, our service overran and our parade was still forming up as the St Michael's service was finished, which meant that their church doors were open."

The Scout leader said that the association was open to all faith denominations and none and it was never their intention to offend.

"We unreservedly apologise if any offence was caused. It was the largest parade of young people that we have had in a long time. It was great to see so many young people and their families out supporting a special event."

Belfast Telegraph

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