Legal aid for Covenant Parade challenge

Published Thursday, 27 September 2012
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Carrick Hill residents will take High Court action on Friday morning in a last-minute bid for a review of the Ulster Covenant parade ruling.

Legal aid for Covenant Parade challenge
Fr Sheehan stands at his church whilst bands pass last month (© Pacemaker)

It comes after the Parades Commission said loyalist bands can play hymns as they pass St Patrick's Church in Belfast on Saturday.

Local residents who object to the parade were left "bewildered" by the decision.

They sought legal action and have been granted legal aid to bring their challenge to court.

The Carrick Hill group later held a meeting on Thursday evening to air some of their concerns ahead of the parade on Saturday morning.

A maximum of 14 bands and around 1,500 marchers will pass the area on their way to Stormont as they mark the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant this weekend.

The determination added that no loyalist supporters are allowed to accompany the parade past the church and only 150 nationalist protesters will be permitted in the area.

Meanwhile a separate parade past St Matthew's Catholic Church on the Newtownards Road in east Belfast has also been ordered to abide by restrictions on the music it plays.

The Parades Commission said: "This is a unique parading event coming at the start of the decade of commemorations. It occurs in a context which has significantly shifted since events of this summer.

"The Commission has come to the conclusion that, should the protest proceed without restriction, there will be an adverse effect on already fragile community relations and potential for public disorder."

Concerns were raised after members of a loyalist band were filmed marching in circles and playing a tune alleged to be sectarian outside the Catholic church on the Twelfth of July.

In August loyalist bands defied a ruling by the Parades Commission that only a single drumbeat should be played when passing the church during a Royal Black Institution parade.

The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland said: "The Institution will do everything possible to mark the centenary of the signing of the Ulster Solemn League and Covenant with respect and dignity."

Frank Dempsey, Chair of Carrick Hill Residents' Group, said: "We've no objections to the marchers coming down Clifton Street. All we are asking for is respect for our community and respect for our church."

Politicians from all sides have appealed for calm ahead of the march this weekend.

© UTV News
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12 Comments
doire abu in doire wrote (691 days ago):
ok, as the token nationalist poster I will have a give a brief opionion. why shouldn't legal aid be given when so much of taxpayers' money is dispensed on the parades in the first instance? justice vs. order - well done on aleady having you appointed yourselves the jury
WTF in Ards (via North Belfast) wrote (692 days ago):
Where are all the nationalist commentators on this topic? Hello? You've normally plenty to say. Don't be shy....
colin in Carryduff wrote (692 days ago):
Never seen so many concerned residents as there are in this country.Just seems to be any excuse and there is another contentious area to add to the list.
norman.d in bangor wrote (693 days ago):
no matter what the orange order do these protesters will never be happy their aim is to stop all orange parades in this province the parades have bein taking place for years with no trouble untill sinn fein came on the seen and orginised these protests all over the province
Sabil in Sion Mills wrote (693 days ago):
seeking to have hymn tunes banned from the vicinity of a church has to be the most ludicrous use of legal aid the world has ever seen!!!
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