Trouble broke out in Belfast city centre on Saturday [15th August] afternoon after a loyalist band was permitted by the RUC/PSNI, to march up to a Catholic church; the same spot where it had conducted a provocative sectarian ritual last month.
The clashes broke out during the annual marches of the anti-Catholic Orange Order’s ‘senior’ organisation, the Royal Black Preceptory.
The decision by the PSNI to allow the controversial Young Conway Volunteers (YCV) band to march up to St Patrick’s Church on Donegall Street ran contrary to a recent ruling of the Parades Commission.
The commission had ordered that the parade past the church not include the band, said to have links to the unionist paramilitary UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force).
The YCV band became internationally notorious last month after it was filmed circling outside the same church as part of a ritualistic insult to Irish Catholics and Ireland’s famine victims. That incident took place on July 12, during the biggest day of the Protestant marching season, when the Orange Order holds hundreds of marches to commemorate a 17th century battle victory over Catholics.
This afternoon, the PSNI ignored a determination of the Parades Commission which had prohibited the band from again marching past the same church.
A number of other so-called ‘kick the Pope’ loyalist bands also engaged in provocative acts outside the church and played sectarian tunes between Clifton Street and Unity Street, a further breach of the commission’s supposedly legally-binding rulings.
The RUC/PSNI also clubbed and assaulted the Carrick Hill residents, some of whom held up a sign reading ‘Respect St. Patrick’s Church’ before coming under attack
Local nationalist representative, Sinn Fein’s Caral Ni Chuilin called on unionist MP Nigel Dodds to make a clear statement condemning the breaches by loyalist bands during the parade.
“The situation arose this morning because of blatant sectarian and provocative behaviour by a loyalist band outside St Patrick’s Church in July,” she said.
“The determination set by the Parades Commission was not adhered to today and we had a situation where there was a continuous stream of sectarian displays outside the church by the bands involved.
“Local MP Nigel Dodds now needs to come out and make a clear statement condemning these breaches of the determination and law breaking.
“Political unionism did not help the situation by their comments prior to the march. They now need to use their influence to find a resolution to these issues instead of supporting sectarian coat-trailing exercises by any of the Loyal Orders.”