Loyalist bandsman jailed for playing The Sash outside Catholic church

A LOYALIST bandsman has been jailed for breaching a Parades Commission determination by playing The Sash outside a Catholic church.


In what is beleived to be the first case of its kind, Co Down man Thomas Beresford was sentenced to three months behind bars for flouting the ban on playing sectarian music during last year’s Ulster Covenant centenary parade. A co-accused had his three-month jail term suspended yesterday at Belfast Magistrates Court, while another member had his case adjourned until the new year. The banbsmen had been identified in footage of the Holywood True Blues band playing The sash as they passed St Matthew‘s on Newtownards Road in east Belfast on September 29. The commission had ruled that only hymns or a single drumbeat could be played as they passed the church.

The development came as police cobfirmed they had closed their investigation into a loyalist bandsman caught on camera urinating outside St Matthew’s during the same parade. There was outrage in the wake of the incident, with the Orange Order describing the bandsman’s actions as “outrageous and unacceptable”. Although it is known which band he belonged to, police have never been able to identify the bandsman. A police spokesman said the “corresponding police investigation into this summary of evidence could not conclusively identify the individual”. “As with any summary offence, it becomes statute-barred after a six month period, which therefore means that this investigation is now closed.” The covenant parade – which brought thousands of Orangeman, bands and supporters onto the streets to mark the centenary of the signing of the document opposing Home Rule – had been marred by sectarian scenes and multiple parade ruling breaches. Loyalist residents held up banners that read ‘We don’t want hymns’ and ‘Play Loud and Proud’ during the march near St Matthew’s. Some stopped brefiy outside the church while banned tunes such as The sash and the Famine Song were played. Beresford, of Strathearn Court in Holywood, has been released on bail pending a date for appeal.

Police close probe into urinating loyalist!

“Outrageous and unacceptable”

POLICE have closed their investigation into a loyalist bandsman caught on camera urinating outside a Catholic church during an Orange Order parade in Belfast last year.

Reroute the fucking flute

The man, a member of Burnside Sons of Ulster from near Doagh, Co Antrim was photographed urinating outside St Matthew’s Catholic Churh during the Ulster Covenant centenary parade last September. Police said yesterday that they had not managed to identify the man and have now closed their investigation in line with the law. The Orange Order launced their own probe (ha,ha,ha,) but the bandsman was never identified. The Orange Order would only say that the band had expressed “regret” (another fucking joke) and sent its members on a “good relations course” (are they having a fucking laugh). The development comes after a bandsman was jailed on Tuesday for breaching a Parades Commission ruling at the same parade. Thomas Beresford is beleived to be the first person jailed for breaching a determination after playing sectarian songs outside the Catholic church. There were angry scenes in Belfast Magistrates Court as the 21-year-old, from Strathearn Court in Holywood, was sentenced to serve three months in jail for floutinga ban on playing non-sacred music while passing St Matthew’s. Relatives of the bass drummer were warned to be queit after they shouted in court that the sentence was “a disgrace”. A district judge said having “considered a pre-sentence report” was of the opinion that the offence “was so serious that only such a sentence can be justified”.

His co accused 28-year-old Stephen Walker, from Church Green in Holywood, had a three-month jail term suspended for 18 months. A third band member Darren Walker (20), from Thornleigh Park in Lisburn, had his case adjourned until the new year. Breaching a parades commission ruling is a summary offence, which was normally dealt with in the past by way of a fine of probation orders. The men had been identified in footage of the Holywood True Blues band playing The Sash as they passed the Newtownards Road church in east Belfast, on September 29. The parades body had ruled that only hymns or a single drum beat could be played by bands as they passed the church. Police displayed flashing signs warning ‘Sacred tunes, hymns only from this point’ as bandsmen approached. At a previous hearing a judge described claims by bandsmen that they had not seen flashing warning signs as “inconceivable and incredible”. Beresford was released on bail pending a date for the appeal. There were a catalogue of breaches of the commissions determination amid sectarian scenes at the east Belfast flashpoint during last year’s Covenant parade. Loyalist residents held up banners stating ‘We don’t want hymns’ and ‘Play Loud and Proud’ during the march. Many of the bands taking part in the return leg of the march breached the parades commission ruling. Some stopped briefly outside the church while banned tunes such as The Sash and The Famine Song were played. Bands who adhered to the ruling and played a single drum beat were jeered by some of those lining the route.

With many thanks to: Allison Morris and Claire Simpson, The Irish News.




THE FAILURE BY members of an Ardoyne residents group to overturn their convictions for staging a sit-down protest during a disputed Orange Order parade highlights the one-sided nature of Policing against republicans, a spokesman for the group has said.

Yesterday ( Wednesday 16th May ) eight men, including some members of Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC), had their appeals against conviction in relation to a sit-down protest on the Crumlin Road last July rejected. The eight, including GARC spokesman Dee Fennell, were ordered to pay the £400 fines imposed in December last year. So far a total of 28 people have been convicted in relation to the blockade, which preceded three days of violence in the area. Speaking to the North Belfast News yesterday Fennell said the failure of the appeal brings into focus the comparatively low number of arrests in relation to recent high profile loyalist protests, including the December 2010 protest outside Belfast City Hall over a decision by Sinn Fein mayor Niall O’ Donnghaile not to present an army cadet with an award, anddisturbances during the loyalist Tour of the North Parade in June 2011 when loyalist protesters were seen climbing on Police vans and drinking in the street. ” This just clearly shows the one-sided nature of Policing of parades here,” said Fennell. ” Loyalists seem to be able to protest willy-nilly yet when a group of nationalists hold a peaceful, non-violent sit-down protest against a Orange Order parade they are dragged through the courts. It highlights the continuing demonstration and criminalization of the Ardoyne community.

So far there have been no arrests for the protest at Belfast City Hall because police say no formal statements of complaint were made. There have also been no arrests for the Tour of the North disturbances. A police spokesman also confirmed that there had been no arrests in connection with a 2010 loyalist blockade at the enterance to the Asda supermarket on the Shore Road in support of Asda worker Billy Hunter who was saked for allegedly making a sectarian comment. He subsequently got his job back. Furthermore,there has only been one youth charged in connection with rioting in Rathcoole in October 2010. ” Nationalists have the right to protest peacefully against unwanted loyalist parades in their area, but this is not reflected by the Policing.”

The police spokesman said they ” always seek to make policing decisions to the benefit of the entire community”. ” We do recognise that sometimes policing decisions can be controversial but we would again assure people that any decisions we take are based upon the prevailing need at the time and with the intention of preventing any harm to the community,”     he said. Dee Fennell said the eight who failed in their appeal are willing to go to jail rather than pay the fines. He added that GARC will continue to stage peaceful protests against Orange Order parades through Ardoyne. The eight men who appealed were Dee Fennell; Daniel Lundy; John Darragh; Paul Carson; Alan Lundy; William Catney; Robert Jackson and Aiden Ferguson.


Orange parade ‘sets tone’ for centenaries

A major unionist parade through Belfast on Saturday could set the tone for other sensitive commemorations, the Parades Commission says.


The march, organised by the Orange Order and the Unionist Centenary Committee, marks the 100th anniversary of rally to Balmoral, opposing the proposed Home Rule Bill of 1912.

Celebrations got underway in Ormeau Park on Friday, but some concerns have been raised after it was revealed former paramilitaries will march alongside Orangemen and Apprentice Boys.

Police expect around 60 bands and more than 5,500 supporters to take part – but organisers say it has the potential to be bigger than the 12th July celebrations.

“It’s a major day for the whole unionist community as it starts the public commemorations of our Ulster covenant events”, said Mervyn Gibson.

“It will be the same atmosphere, people out to watch and enjoy themselves and we want everybody to have a good day so we hope it will mirror the Twelfth in many respects.”

The first parade will set off from Ballynafeigh in the Ormeau area at 9am. It will wind its way through Stranmillis before arriving at Sandy Row in south Belfast just before 10am.

Marchers will set off Sandy Row at 10am and also from Clifton Park Avenue and Shankill Road in north Belfast at the same time.

The parades will make their way to Donegall Street in the city centre before merging. All bands and marchers will then parade through the city towards Ormeau Park.

Marchers will then return along the same routes in afternoon parades beginning at 4pm.

It is understood that loyalists will not take part in the return parades as a “gesture” to nationalists who had raised concerns about trouble at interface areas.

However, while the parade will not travel along the mainly nationalist area of the Lower Ormeau Road, it has, in the past, been a flashpoint for trouble.

Community leaders have told UTV they have held talks with parade organisers and remain confident that everything has been done to ensure the day passes off without incident.

A spokesperson for the Parades Commission said: “The Balmoral Review parade has the potential to set the tone for how other events are approached and perceived.”

The Commission said they acknowledged “the work undertaken by many in the build-up to the Balmoral Review parade” and said it hoped “all parties involved will mark the event with respect for not just the past, but for the present and each other.”

Meanwhile, motorists are being warned of traffic delays the parades take place, with police saying they will do their utmost to keep disruption to a minimum.


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