Published Sunday, 11 November 2012
Apprentice Boys march past St Patrick's Church in Donegall Street. (© UTV)
There was a heavy security presence at St Patrick's Church as the Apprentice Boys paraded down Donegall Street on Saturday morning.
Dozens of armoured police vehicles lined streets close to the Catholic Church and a PSNI helicopter hovered overhead.
The Parades Commission had determined marchers could only play hymn tunes on their way past St Patrick's church.
Supporters were also banned from accompanying the parade between the junction of Donegall Street and Royal Avenue, and the junction of the Westlink and Clifton Street.
Parade protestors were limited to 150 and around 30 gathered outside the church holding a banner reading 'Respect our church', turning their backs as the Apprentice Boys marched past St Patrick's.
It is claimed the band played a sectarian song within the restriction zone imposed by the Parades Commission. Frank Dempsey, chair of Carrick Hill Concerned Residents' Group, said he was "deeply, deeply concerned".
"This was supposed to be a Remembrance Day service with sacred hymns being played and what did we have? A determination again smashed.
"We had the Famine song being played going past Carrick Hill, we had supporters following the bands," he said.
Father Michael Sheehan of St Patrick's Church said he believed something positive could be taken out of Saturday's parade.
"There was some talk of things further up the road but I think it was specifically noted that going past the church there seemed to have been an instruction given for a single drum beat.
"I think that has to be interpreted as a positive gesture, and also the number of people on the demonstration is also a gesture, and I think those gestures have been brought about by dialogue between the Apprentice Boys and the residents," added Fr Sheehan.
In a statement on Sunday, the Apprentice Boys said a "minor infringement" to the determination observed during the parade was "down to a breakdown in communication".
"There is evidence that senior members of Belfast & District Amalgamated Committee immediately moved to have the band cease playing. This can be verified by the PSNI," they said.
The Apprentice Boys said there were "several breaches of the determination by Carrick Hill Resident's Group, including attempts to physically assault their members."
Police said they are investigating incidents during the march.
"Police have been made aware of an alleged breach of the musical determination at Clifton Street and are also aware of an allegation of assault on a member of the parade," said a PSNI spokesperson.
The area became contentious after loyalist band members were filmed marching in a circle while playing an allegedly sectarian song outside the church on the Twelfth of July, but the Young Conway Volunteers denied the claims.
© UTV News