Key city parade ruling to stand following review

editorial image

The Parades Commission met on Wednesday night to review it ruling on Friday’s Tour of the North band parade but the determination has remained unchanged.

The parading body initially issued a ruling last Friday which forbid bands from playing any type of music other than a single drumbeat while passing close to the nationalist Carrick Hill area – and only hymns while passing St Patrick’s Church on Donegall Street.

Speaking following Wednesday night’s meeting, a Parades Commission spokesman said: “Following a review of its determination, regarding the upcoming Tour of the North parade, the commission has concluded that there is insufficient new evidence upon which to alter its original determinations.”

The ruling also banned any supporters from following the parade between the Westlink and Union Street in Belfast city centre.

The Tour of the North parade is traditionally one of the first of the summer and goes from Denmark Street, off the Crumlin Road, along Donegall Street, Royal Avenue and North Street before moving on to the Shankill Road and finishing on Florence Place.

Around 15 bands and 1,000 supporters are expected to take part in the parade on Friday evening.

Both the Carrick Hill Residents Committee and the New Lodge North Queen Street Residents had applied to hold protests at the parade, but will only be allowed one-fifth of the requested 150 protestors at both demonstrations.

Ulster Unionist Mark Cosgrove had welcomed the decision to review the initial determination.

The UUP wrote asking for an urgent review of the ruling.

“We recognise the significant efforts made by all stakeholders in relation to parading and welcome the input from groups and bodies such as the Belfast Parades Forum and the many quiet conversations which have also taken place,” he said.

“These conversations created the conditions where the Orange Order were able to issue their proposals a few weeks ago and it is vital that the Parades Commission and the community in general welcome this initiative.”

Last year on July 12 there was controversy after the Young Conway Volunteers Band played a tune viewed by some as sectarian outside St Patrick’s Church on Donegall Street during a stoppage.

The band denied playing the Famine Song, saying it had been playing a Beach Boys song titled Sloop John B.

Last week the County Grand Lodge of Belfast revealed a template for parades along Donegall Street this summer.

It includes that no part of any parade will stop outside St Patrick’s, those accompanying the parade will walk on one side of the street, support for all attempts to thwart on-street drinking and facilitation of any funerals, weddings or regular church services.

In relation to a review of related protest activity – by the Carrick Hill residents group and a New Lodge group – the Parades Commission spokesman said: “Carrick Hill have been granted two protest sites of 30 [people] each.

“They had asked for three sites and 150 protestors in total.

“The New Lodge group had asked for 150 but have been restricted to 30, and nobody is going to be protesting outside St Patrick’s Church on the same side as the church.”

The spokesman added: “The commission has also issued determinations restricting the numbers participating in, and the locations of, parades relating to this parade.”