Flute band member admits to rioting at banned parade



A member of a loyalist flute band pleaded guilty yesterday to rioting on his birthday during serious public disorder at a banned Orange Order parade through north Belfast.

Harry McFarland, 49, admitted a single count of riotous assembly on July 12 when police came under “heavy and sustained’’ attack on the Woodvale Road.

The rioting erupted after police blocked a return leg of an Orange Order feeder parade past the the Ardoyne shop fronts following a ruling by the Parades Commission.

Belfast Crown Court heard that McFarland, of Iniscairn Drive, Rathcoole, Newtownabbey, was “clearly intoxicated’’ at the time and was captured on CCTV lifting a green wheelie bin with another man and throwing it at police lines.

Judge Corinne Philpott QC was told that McFarland was present for an hour during the rioting.

A prosecuting solicitor said: “There was serious rioting and a crowd of some 5,000 people on the Woodvale Road.

“Officers were attacked with ceremonial swords, petrol bombs, heavy masonry and other missiles.’’

The solicitor added: “This man had been part of a band that had been playing but later got embroiled in the riot.’’

Asked by Judge Philpott QC what the band was called, a defence barrister said it was the “highly respectable’’ Shankill Protestant Boys flute band.

The prosecuting counsel added that McFarland has no previous criminal convictions.

McFarland was released on continuing bail until January 17 to allow for the preparation of a pre-sentence report.


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