Tensions rise as:

  • UVF gunman replaces Best in loyalist heartland mural
  • Nationalist residents say: No more parades past St Patrick‘s

  • £100,000 an hour bill for policing Twelfth is revealed.

A NATIONALIST group has called for loyalist parades to be rerouted away from St Patrick’s Church in central Belfast. Carrick Hill Concerned Residents ‘ Group ‘ which had previously said it did not require rerouting, made the call after repeated breaches of Parades Commission determinations.


Last weekend Mass was interrupted when several bands taking part in a Royal Black Institution parade arrived back late and played The Sash outside. Parishioners said the priest could not be heard. The Donegal Steet route is used by numerous loyal order parades each year including the main Twelfth of July Belfast demonstration. In The Irish News today Frank Dempsey, a spokesman for the residents ‘ group, writes: “You cannot parade through nationalist areas and treat us residents and our church with contempt. “Therefore we are now calling on the Parades Commission to seriously consider rerouting these contentious parades away from our area and our church.” Tensions are also increasing within loyalism in east Belfast where a mural of football legend George Best, painted less than three years ago as part of a ‘reimaging’ programe, is being replaced with a painting of a masked UVF gunman. The painting at Inverwood Court was funded with European money as part of a regeneration project managed by Belfast City Council. Meanwhile, The Irish News has learned that policing the Twelfth of July this year cost £2.3 million – almost £100,000 per hour. The figure was an increase of £600,000 on last year. Half of the cost to taxpayers was made up of PSNI overtime, which was £1.1m for the single day.

‘The greatest cost of all is the social, political and economic caused by contentious parades – Alex Maskey.

Violence broke out in Belfast on the evening of the Twelfth demonstrations and contiued for several nights afterwards after the Parades Commission banned Orange Order members from walking past nationalist homes in Ardoyne. For the first time, PSNI officers were supported by hundreads of mutual aid officers from constabularies in England, Wales and Scotland. Officers came under fire from blast bombs, petrol bombs and other missiles. A total of 99 people were arrested, with 72 charged and 10 reportded to the Public Prosecution Service. However, while serious disorder continued for a number of days, the £2.3m figure is only for a one day policing operatin, on Friday, July 12. The figure is noticeably higher than the cost of the policing operation last year. The total cost of policing parades and associated public disorder on Thursday July 12 2012 into the early hours of Friday, July 13 was £1.7m. While half of this year’s £2.3m figure was made up of police overtime, it all includes the cost of mutual policing which was £534,000.

Just more than £545,000 was allocated to “other departments”, including finance and support services. Procurement and logistics cost £50,000, transport services cost £26,000 and part time district police officers cost £27,000. In addition, £51,000 was spent on duty police officers and £3,000 spent on other departments. DUP Policing Board member Jonathan Craig, who branded the Parades Commission, “a failed entity”, said the figure clearly showed that a “political solution must be found to the parading issue”. “I don’t think any of us will be at all surprised the cost has risen from last year, given the level and scale of violence that we have witnessed on the streets of Northern Ireland,” he said. Mr Craig described the decision to bring in mutual aid officers as a “strategic move” and said he intended to raise the issue at the next Policing Board meeting. “Is this the way to move forward with regard to reinforcing PSNI numbers or do they need to increase recruitment?” Sinn Fein assembly member Alex Mackey said his party believed that the true cost of policing July 12 this year was “more than the amount identified”. “There is an ongoing public expence araising from the policing operation of those who will not comply with the determination lof the Parades Commission I relation to the 12th July at Ardoyne,” he said. “However the greatest cost of all is the social, political and economic caused by contentious parades. “This cost is one which local communities affected, and our society as a whole can no longer be expected to pay.”

With many thanks to : Connla Young, Allison Morris and Marie Louise McCrory, The Irish News.

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‘There is growing public opinion that those who march in these bands and breach determinations have a level of impunity – Caral Ni Chuilin.

THERE have been calls for prosecutions against bandsmen who repeatedly flout Parades Commission determinations outside St Patrick‘s Church on Belfast’s Donegal Street.


In the latest incident on Saturday, a band taking part in a Royal Black Institution parade played The Sash while Mass was being celebrated inside. The Parades Commission had ruled that the return parade be completed ahead of Mass on Saturday evening. The latest breach by loyalist bandsmen outside St Patrick’s comes on the back of a number of breaches so far this year. On July 12 last year, the Young Conway Volunteers band drew widespread criticism after its members were videoed marching in circles outside the church while playing the sectarian ‘Famine Song‘. Dozens of loyalist bandsmen are facing prosecution over the incident, which prompted subsequent restrictions from the parades body. Fr Sheehan said it was regrettable that the PSNI had allowed the parade to pass the church during Mass.

North Belfast politicians urged the authorities to get tough with those flouting parades rulings. Carpal Ni Chuilin, the Stormont culture minister, said there was a growing concern that those who breached the parades body’s rulings were escaping prosecution. “There have been consistent breaches this year by bands of conditions laid down by the Parades Commissions determinations,” said the Sinn Fein MLA. “There is growing public opinion that these bands and breach determinations have a level of impunity.” North Belfast assembly member Albany Maginness called for “decisive action” from the police and Public Prosecution Service (PPS) to target those responsible for the breaches. The SDLP representative said Massgoers consistently complained to him about the lack of prosecutions.

“I have no complaints about the policing, which was fair and reasonable, but these repeated violations of Parades Commission determinations need to be addressed and I see no evidence of that from the PSNI or PPS,” he said. A spokesman for the Parades Commission said the body would review its own monitor reports on Saturday’s parade as well as information from the PSNI. “Any breach of a determination is a matter for the police to investigate and those involved could be liable to prosecution.”

With many thanks to : John Manley (Political Reporter), The Irish News.


Loyal order ‘flouted’ restrictions

THE conduct of loyalist marchers (Orange Disorder) at the Last Saturday parade was “beyond comprehension the parish priest of St Patrick‘s Church in Belfast has said. Fr Michael Sheehan was reacting to the Royal Black parade on Saturday when loyalists played The Sash while Mass was being celebrated inside the church.


Fr Sheehan, said: “it was disappointing and disheartening that the Royal Black Preceptory consider that the playing the Sash as they march past residents of Carrick Hill and through this community of St PPatrick’s was respectful.”The playing of loud music as they pass in frount of St Patrick’s Church during devine worship is definitely not respectful, It is not conductive to the building of respect, trust and confidence between the communities of this city. It doesn’t win the respect or trust of the congregation of this church. This particular breach of codes of practice is beyound comprehension,” he said. “It is difficult not to interpret such actions on the part of the loyal orders as a failure at any real attempt to resolve the issues around the contentious parades as they pass St Patrick’s Church and it’s community.”

The last Saturday parade which passed St Patrick’s Church on Belfast’s Donegall Street “flouted every legal restriction placed on it,” according to the culture minister Caral Ni Chuilin, a Sinn Fein MLA for the area said “total disrespect” shown to the nationalist community living in the area. The Parades Commission had determined that only a single drum beat be played as bands passed Carrick Hill while the return leg was supposed to be finished ahead of Mass. However, nationalist politicians claimed the Royal Black Institution (a supposedly religious orgainasition) was delayed by participants so that it coincided with Ssturday evening Mass. While music was played passing the church. Ms Ni Chuilin also claimed a member of the order had spat on a protester. Parish priest Fr Michael Sheehan said: “Tensions had been inflamed by “disrespect for the rule of law and good civic relations between citizens, organisation and communities”.

Ms Ni Chuilin said: “I am fed up hearing about loyal orders being religious oeganisations celebrating culture when in reality what was on show today was an exercise in sectarian coa trailing through a nationalist area.970645_693636490662862_35749967_n “A member of the Royal Black Institution spat upon a protester and on the way home they waited until Mass had started before returning past St Patrick’s Church. “Every aspect of the determination in relation to the parade was broken today and it is my opinion it was an effort to goad nationalist residents into some type of retaliatory reaction.” SDLP assembly member Alban Maginness said he believed marchers acted “quite deliberately” to delay the parade to coincide with Mass.”The Black men (bastards) were supposed to have finished their parade by 6.15. They didn’t commence their parade until around 7.10 so they passed the church after Mass had started,” he said. He said the manner which music was played when passing the church as “not fitting for prayer or worship” and described the behaviour of marchers as “aggressive and provocative”. In June this year the Orange Order, in conjunction with the Royal Black Institution, issued a “template” it said would help ease tensions in the area. The template suggested they would facilitate weddings, funerals and regular church services. Violence erupted outside Donegall Street church during a similar parade last yesr when nationalists and loyalists clashed. A spokesman for the Royal Black Institution said: “Around Northern Ireland on Saturday, approximately 18,000 members of the Royal Black Institution took part in their annual Last Saturday demonstrations. “Many thousands of turned out to enjoy the spectable which is an important part of our culture, (are they having a fucking laugh). “Although there will always be people opposed to our parades, we are pleased that our day passed off without any incident and we beleive this is a step forward.”

With many thanks to : Simon Cunningham, The Irish News.


‘The decision has been taken to prosecute 15 individuals in relation to an incident at St Patrick‘s Church on July 12 2012 – PPS spokeswoman.

FIFTEEN members of a loyalist band filmed playing sectarian music while marching in circles outside a Catholic church are set to be prosecuted. Controversy erupted after members of Young Conway Volunteers were recorded playing the ‘Famine Song‘ at St Patrick’s Church in Belfast city centre on the Twelfth of July last year.


The song contains anti-Catholic and anti-Irish lyrics and is sung by Glasgow Rangers supporters and loyalists. The episode, which made international headlines, was blamed for making the St Patrick’s area a new parading flashpoint and stoking wider tensions across the north of the city. More than a year after the footage emerged, it is understood band members are to be prosecuted for the offence of “doing a provocative act”. Since last years parade – part of the main Twelfth procession through Belfast city centre – parishioners at St Patrick’s and local residents have objected to loyal order marches passing the church and the nearby nationalist district of Carrick Hill. Based on the Shan kill Road, the Young Conway Volunteers band was formed in 2007 for the “preservation and promotion” of the memory of Thomas Skinner – a member of the UVF youth wing, the Young Citizen Volunteers, who died in 2003.

The band caused more controversy last August when it defied a Parades Commission ruling not to take part in a Royal Black Institution parade past St Patrick’s. Violence flared when a large number of bands also broke a commission determination by playing music as they passed the church. Members of Young Conway Volunteers took part in this year’s Twelfth parade past St Patrick’s with a band called Young Citizens Volunteers. To date only one person has been convicted of offences a raising out of the July 2012 incident outside St Patrick’s. In March this year William Bell (48), known as Billy, admitted assaulting north Belfast man JJ Magee. Bell waved a club-shaped stick at the Sinn Fein member as he was filming the YCV band outside the church. It is understood members of the band will appear in court later this month.

A spokeswoman for the Public Prosecution Service confirmed: “The decision has been taken to pprosecute 15 individuals in relation to an incident at St Patrick’s Church on July 12 2012.” Meanwhile, security is set to be tight around St Patrick’s this weekend when the Apprentice Boys parade takes place past the church on Saturday involving one band and up to 55 people. The band taking part has been ordered to play only hymns from the junction of Clifton Street and West Link and Donegal Street and Union Street. Nationalists residents have also been given permission to hold a protest during the parade.

With many thanks to : Connla Young, The Irish News.


‘They can lose me as many jobs as they want buy I am never going to work for [them] – Matt Johnston, pictured

A BELFAST man has claimed he lost his job after attempts were made to recruit him as a police informer. Matt Johnston, from the republican New Lodge area, said police seized his car outside an east Belfast warehouse where he worked last month.


According to the father-of-two who has previous convictions, officers demanded to search his car at Castlereagh PSNI station after earlier raiding the house in north Belfast where his children live and visiting a recruitment agency in search of him. He says that while later walking to the station to pick up his car he was approached by two men as he walked along Dill Street, close to the former RUC interrogation centre.The 32-year-old says the men asked him to supply information about two Belfast-based republicans and refereed to his former membership of a residents group set up to support people in Carrick Hill opposed to loyalist parades past St Patrick‘s Church.

Johnston says that during the encounter the men told him they could arrange for him to lose his job. In June 2012 he was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to taking part in a tiger kidnap robbery in 2008. He served nine months in Maghaberry and was released last March due to time already served on remand. “Is this their new tactic, if you don’t work for us we will starve you into it?” he asked. “554902_127331307455451_502011840_n-1They wanted to rattle my cage and ttest the water with me to see what I was made of. They can lose me as many jobs as they want but I am never going to work for [them].” Politicians have routinely defended the use of informers to combat dissident Republican attacks. UUP justice minister Tom Elliot recently said that while everyone has the right to question security force tactics “they also have a right to prevent any acts of criminality and I support their right to do that”. A spokeswoman for the PSNI said: “We do not comment on intelligence matters and no inference should be drawn from this.”

With many thanks to : Connla Young, The Irish News.


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.


14-year-old boy charged with rioting

LOYALIST bandsmen were attacked by nationalists who had been protesting against a march past St Patrick‘s Church and the Carrick Hill area of North Belfast. A crowd of around 20 men charged the band and their supporters as they made their way along nearby York Street in a separate parade at around 7.45pm.

VIOLENCE: Trouble in York Street in Belfast led to a man being injured and being given first aid in a police Land Rover.

Hand-to-hand fighting ensued and one loyalist was beaten to the ground. He was lifted into a PSNI Land Rover for first-aid. There was a heavy police presence in the Donegall Street and Clifton Street area during the contentious return parade past Belfast’s newest flashpoint but it was several minutes before officers got to the situation in York Street under control. The attack happened as police stopped nationalst residents of Carrick Hill returning to their homes after the main parade. As officers held the group back at the junction of Carrick Hill and Donegal Street a crowd standing on the other side of the junction close to the nationalist New Lodge area ran the 300 or so metres towards York Street where a band had stopped and was playing music. Eyewitnesses said police were “caught on the hop” which allowed the nationalist group to attack the bandsmen and their suppoters.

PSNI Land Rovers raced towards the incident and were joined by officers in riot gear who covered the short distance on foot. The eariler parade along Donegall Street had passed off peacefully with only a few insults exchanged between bandsmen and their supporters and nationalists. The Parades Commission had ordered bands to play hymns as they passed the church and a single drumbeat at Carrick Hill but some bands broke the determination. One man walking behind the Shankill Protestant Boys band gave a Nazi salute as he walked past the church and protesters. There were minor scuffles at the junction of Union Street when police officers intervened to remove supporters who were banned for a section of Donegal Street and Clifton Street by the Parades Commission. Meanwhile, a 14-year-old boy has been charged with rioting after he was arrested in North Belfast in the early hours of yesterday. The boy,was arrested in the Oldpark area, was one of several arrested ahead of the Twelfth demonsrrations. He is to appear before Belfast Magistrates Court today. A 28-year-old man who was arrested in the Broadway area of West Belfast on Thurday night is to appear before the same court today, charged with pocessing articles for use in petrol bombs and riotious assembly. A 22-year-old man arrested in the Springfield Road area of west Belfast has been charged with disorderly behaviour and indecent behaviour. He is expected to appear before Belfast Magistrates Court on August 8.

With many thanks to : Maeve Connolly, The Irish News.


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 volitionShort Strand need your support. “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.


‘We want to give a voice back to the people on the ground’ says Casp spokes man.

NATIONALIST residents from areas across the North of Ireland with contentious Orange Order parades have joined forces to form an umbrella group to oppose sectarian loyalist marches. Communities Against Sectarian Parades (CASP) iinvolves people from the Short Strand in East Belfast, Springfield Road in West Belfast and the North Belfast flashpoint Ardoyne.


There is also representation from rural areas such as Rasharkin in Co Antrim and Newtownbutler in Co Fermanagh. The group said it had support from an alternative Carrick Hill residents group set up in recent weeks to oppose marches past St Patrick’s Church in Donegal Street, although there was no-one from the area present at the meeting held in the Ardoyne community centre. Its membership is made of groups who have formed in areas where there were already residents associations. It argues that the exsisting groups have been rendered “ineffective due to political interferance”. “They are controlled by a political party and we want to give a voice back to the people on the ground,” spokesman Sean Hanna from the Rasharkin Residents Collective said. Mr Hanna said the decisions on whether to meet with the police or hold talks with the Orange Order or Parades Commission would remain up to the individual groups.

He said the strength of the collective was its unified supportive role. “Our coalition will aim to highlight and confront the denial of our human rights to live free from sectarian harassment that is associated with sectarian marches,” he said. “We beleive in a holistic approach to confront these marches. Mr Hanna would not say if the collective has planned any joint protests in the run-up to the Twelfth saying that was “yet to be decided”. While Casp was announcing its formation to a panel of journalists, a meeting was taking place in a separate room of the community centre involving Galway Fianna Fail TD Eamon O’Cuiv, residents and members of the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective. Aidan Ferguson was one of the people who meet with the justice committee member. He said that they discussed a number of issues connected to loyalist parades which pass the nationalst interface. “It was a very positive meeting and we will be formally inviting him to act as an independant observer during the July marches,” Mr Ferguson said. The Irish News contacted Mr O’Cuiv’s office about the meeting but did not receive a response.

Collective attempt to usurp Sinn Fein.

THE formation of a new umbrella group to oppose loyalist parades may on the surface seem fairly run-of-the-mill but it could have political ramifications. Communities Against Sectarian Parades (CASP) involves residents who have broken away from existing groups – groups that contain members or supporters of Sinn Fein. The party has traditionally acted as the voice of communites dirctly impacted by loyalist marches. This new collective is an attempt to usurp Sinn Fein.

The residents groups in the collective involve a range of people, including republicans who would be considered dissident and actively opposed to Sinn Fein’s political strategy. Until now these grops have done little to upset the status quo, with numbers small and protests haphazard. However, an organised collective brings with it strength in numbers and some members who advocate a more hardline approach to opposing parades, Casp could have a destablising influnance. With tensions already high this marching season following a winter of loyalist violence and unrest linked to the Union Flag dispute at Belfast City Hall, Casp’s impact will bear close observation in the coming weeks.

With many thanks to : Allison Morris, Irish News.


NATIONALIST residents have reacted angrily after claims that bands taking part in the Tour of the North parade broke a Parades Commission ruling not to play music while passing St Patrick‘s Church last night.


There was also a tense stand off between police and nationalist residents after an alter action involving the residents and parade supporters near Kent Street in Carrick Hill. Police said a 20-year-old man was arrested for disorderly behaviour and a 16-year-old male for provocative conduct. Police also said they were investigating “suspected breaches of the Parades Commission determination”. Commission chiefs had ordered up to 15 bands taking part in the march to play only hymns when passing St Patrick’s Church, close to the Belfast city center. The bands were also instructed to play a single drum beat while passing the nearby Carrick Hill. However, residents last night claimed that bandsmen breached the commission ruling after playing music while passing Carrick Hill. They also claimed several bands played music other than hymns while passing St Patrick’s. Residents also maintained a band taking part in an earlier feeder Parade past St Patrick’s and Carrick Hill breached the Parades Commission determination by playing music as it passed the nnationalist district.

Carrick Hill residents’ spokesman Frank Dempsey last night criticised the Orange Order and Parades Commission. “It’s clear the Parades Commission determinations are meaningless,” he said. “They [ Orange Order ] are being rewarded for breaking determinations and what are they trying to achive ? “And what are the Parades Commission saying to the people of Carrick Hill?” During the parade residents from Carrick Hill and the New Lodge held separate protests at Clifton Street while a further protest was held outside St Patrick’s. North Belfast Sinn Fein assembly member Caral Ni Chuilin said she beleived the commission determinations had been breached. “This is the first contentious march of the parading season and it does not bode very well. The residents have called for dialogue and the residents need to reciprocate.”

SDLP assembly member Alban Maginness said the breach was a “sign that the Orange Order dies not want to conform with the decesion of the Parades Commission. “None of this helps de-escalate what could be a very difficult marching season and this is the first significant  march of the season,” he said. Tensions in north Belfast have been high since the Shankill Road-based Young Conway Volunteers were filmed marching in circles while playing the sectarian Famine Song on July 12 last year. In a statement last night a spokesman for the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast said : “Orangemen, women and bands paraded with dignity and showed respect at St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Chapel.” “We are saddened that citizens of the city of Belfast were prevented from walking along a main throughfare and it makes a mockery of a so-called shared city,” he said.

With many thanks to : Connie YoungIrish News.

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