Republicans and loyalists apply to march same contentious route
THERE have been appeals for calm after a republican band and the Royal Black Institution applied for permission to march on the same Belfast street later this month. Members of the Royal Black Institution have applied to walk past St Patricks Church and nearby nationalist district of Carrick Hill on August 25 as they make their way to south Belfast for a church service.
Up to two bands and 300 people are expected to take part. However, it has also emerged that North Belfast-based Henry Joy McCracken Flute Band has also applied to march through Carrick Hill on its way to Clifton Street Cemetery shortly after the loyal order parade. Serious violence erupted during a Royal Black Institution ‘Last Saturday’ parade past St Patrick‘s last year. Tensions in the area have been high since Shankill Road-based band Young Conway Volunteers were filmed walking in circles outside the church while playing the sectarian ‘Famine Song‘ on July 12 last year. The republican parade has been organised to commemorate United Irishman Henry Joy McCracken who was executed by British forces in 1798 and who is buried in Clifton Street Cemetery. Up to seven bands and 500 people are expected to take part in the parade which will leave Ardoyne before traveling through north Belfast to New Lodge and on to Carrick Hill. Trouble flared during a similar parade last year when around 200 loyalist protested as the republican band and supporters passed Clifton Street Orange Hall. A number of senior loyalists were pictured on the balcony of Clifton Street Orange hall as the parade passed.
Although both parades have applied to start at 2pm, organisers of the republican event say they will not leave Ardoyne until 3pm and expect those taking part in the Royal Black Institution march to have passed Clifton Street before they arrive. On the return journey the Royal Black Institution parade is expected to have passed Clifton Street and reached its end point on the Crumlin Road by 5.30pm while the republican parade will leave the cemetery at 6pm before returning along Clifton Street. Henry Joy McCracken committee member Sammy Cusick appealed for calm ahead of the parade and urged those intent on trouble to “stay away”. “We are trying to bill this as inclusive for all,” he said. “Our band is named after Henry Joy McCracken and you know he was a Presbyterian, a Protestant, who fought to break the connection with England. “We don’t want to be stoking sectarian tensions at this time and the reason we have a return parade in the evening was to take the crowd away from the area.” Mr Cusick said the band had voluntarily marched along Clifton Street playing just a single drumbeat last year and a similar gesture this year had not been ruled out. A spokesman for the Royal Black Institution said: “We will be parading to our annual church parade service which we hope causes no offence to anyone. Only hymn music will be played on the way out and back from the church service.”
With many thanks to : Connla Young, The Irish news.
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