30/04/2013

Sinn Féin, SDLP Call For Parade Investigation

Stormont's main nationalist parties have called on the PSNI to investigate alleged breaches of a Parades Commission order during an Orange march on Sunday.

While the parade, which was for the Loyal Orange Widows Fund, passed off peacefully and without incident, it has been claimed by Sinn Féin and the SDLP that it breached an order only to play a single drum beat while passing St Patrick's Church in north Belfast. It has been reported by the BBC that the band did play some music while marching past the church.

St. Patrick's made the headlines last summer, when a loyalist band was filmed on 12 July marching up and down outside the Catholic church and playing an anti-catholic song about the Irish famine.

Sinn Féin councillor Conor Maskey said the Parades Commission needs to "take on board" the events of Sunday.

"The Orange Order said it wants to see a resolution to these issues and the way to show that they are genuine is for them to sit down with the local residents group in face-to-face dialogue," he said.

"Breaching the determination by playing music when passing St Patrick's Church and Carrick Hill is not exactly compatible with wanting to find a resolution.

"That breach in the determination today is something the Parades Commission need to take on board when making future determinations on marches in the area. The PSNI also need to take action as the law was broken.

"The way to resolve these issues is through direct dialogue between those who wish to parade and the residents of the area the parade affects."

The SDLP's Alban Maginness and Nichola Mallon say they have presented a witness report of the events to the PSNI.

Cllr Nichola Mallon said: "There was a blatant breach of the Parades Commission determination that a single drum beat was to be played as the parade passed St. Patrick’s Church. Despite this ruling, music was played by the Millar Memorial Flute Band on this stretch of the route on both the outward and return journey on Sunday.

"This was a clear breach of the law and we have contacted the PSNI as witnesses to report it and request a full investigation.

Mr Maginness said: "The DUP leader Peter Robinson recently stated that decisions taken by the Parades Commission had 'become the legal requirement'. However DUP Cllr Brian Kingston remained very vague when asked for his views about the illegal breach of the determination during the parade on Sunday which he took part in.

"The Secretary of State was also vague when asked for her views today on this illegal behaviour.

"The DUP and the Secretary of State must make it unequivocally clear that the requirements around notification of parades must be complied with. Whatever differences political parties and others may have with the Commission, its determinations are law."

(IT/CD)

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