Loyalist band acquitted over tune

Loyalist band acquitted over tune

Eleven members of a loyalist flute band have been acquitted of provocatively playing a sectarian tune at a north Belfast flashpoint.

Charges were brought against them over claims that they struck up the controversial Famine Song after passing a Catholic Church.The defendants denied the allegation, insisting instead that it had been a rendition of a Beach Boys' hit.But a judge dismissed the case against all of them on the basis that it could not be proven that a breach of the peace was either intended or likely.The defendants, all members of the Dunmurry Protestant Boys, were charged with doing a provocative act in November 2012.Their band was taking part in an Apprentice Boys' parade through the city at the time.Belfast Magistrates' Court heard claims that after passing St Patrick's Church they broke into the sectarian tune in the Clifton Street area.A small group of around 15 nationalist protestors was said to have been gathered nearby.The defendants' lawyer argued, however, that the band was playing Sloop John B, the Beach Boys' song which goes by the same tune. After hearing evidence the district judge made no ruling on whether or not it was the Famine Song being played.But it was decided that the prosecution had failed to establish there was an intention to provoke a breach of the peace.The verdict also took into account the likelihood of such an outcome given the number of protestors at the scene. On that basis all eleven defendants were acquitted.


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