THE Parades Commission has been criticised for its ruling to allow an Orange Order parade past St Matthew‘s Church in east Belfast on the Twelfth without major restrictions. Sinn Fein councillor Niall O Donnghaile said residents and parishioners felt “deep disappointment” at the determination.
The parade – involving 23 bands and more than 2,000 participants – will pass the Catholic Church on the Twelfth. The area has witnessed sectarian strife in the past. Last year a loyalist bandsman was pictured urinating at the frount gates of St Matthew’s during a march. The parades watchdog ruled yesterday that the march could peoceed past the church. It said there could be “no singing, chanting or loud drumming” but bands were permitted to play music. Mr O Donnghaile criticised the ruling, particularly since stricter rules applied at St Patrick‘s on Donegall Street near the city centre. “It is becoming increasingly clear that they have one approach when it comes to St Patrick’s Church yet an entirely different one when it comes to St Matthew’s,” Mr O Donnghaile said.
“The Orange Order has consistently shown utter contempt for St Matthew’s Church and indeed the community in the Short Strand and it is clear that they cannot be trusted to show respect to that community of thier own volition. “I am conscioious that this parade is organised by the same organisation responsible for Monday’s ‘mini-Twelfth’ parade, where we saw breach after breach of the determination placed upon it. “It is evident that the Short Strand community and the parishioners of St Matthew’s can in no way rely on the Parade Commission, who year after year allow clear disrespect to go unchecked. “Short Strand residents continue to make genuine efforts to engage with the Orange Order which thus far have been ignored. “I would call on the Orange Order to show leadership, to show respect and to take a voluntary initiative that ensures courtesy and dignity – which up until this point has been severely lacking – are shown to St Matthew’s Church.” The Short Strand Residents Group will hold a protest to coincide with the passing of the parade.
With many thanks to : Allison Morris, The Irish News.
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