A representative of the Ulster marching bands community has spoken of its regret after a bandsman was photographed urinating against the gates of a Catholic church.
The incident took place outside St Matthew’s church on the Newtownards Road on Saturday during the Covenant parade.
The chairman of the Confederation of Ulster Bands Valerie Quinn said she feels it is unfortunate that the estimated 10,000 bandsmen who were on parade on Saturday are all being tarred with the same brush.
She said more than 99.9 per cent of bandsmen were well behaved.
“The general feeling in that band community is that it is not condoned in any way,” she said, commenting that she had been to the Newtownards Road on Tuesday to try and piece together how the incident happened.
“There were over 10,000 bandsmen on parade on Saturday, it is very unfortunate that one incident is being used to colour the perception of all bandsmen.”
Valerie said the bands community battled with a common societal problem which was anti social behaviour associated with alcohol.
On Monday, Orange Grand Secretary Drew Nelson issued an apology on behalf of the institution after a bandsman was photographed urinating against the gate of St Matthew’s Church.
Belfast County Chaplain Rev Mervyn Gibson followed this up by visiting St Matthews and writing a letter to be read out to the congregation expressing regret at what had happened.
The Orange Order’s Director of Services Dr David Hume told the News Letter earlier this week that the incident is being reviewed and that they will be meeting with both the Orange district responsible for the band and also a representative from the band.
“It was unacceptable,” he said.
“Nobody would like that sort of behaviour regardless of what side of the community they come from.”
However Dr Hume also emphasised that Saturday’s Covenant parade had been an enormous success overall with an estimated 80,000 people turning out to parade and support the parade from Belfast City Hall to Stormont.
*Full report in tomorrow’s paper.