Order defends playing Sash at church

Published Friday, 12 July 2013
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The playing of The Sash by loyalist bands outside a Catholic church in north Belfast during the Twelfth was not "a deliberate defiance", Orange Order Grand Chaplain Mervyn Gibson has told UTV.

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    Return parade

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One band stopped outside St Patrick's on Donegall Street and played the tune, despite a Parades Commission determination that only hymns should be played and that the parade should not stop.

A number of other bands are also said to have played sectarian songs near the church, where tensions have previously been heightened over similar issues.

Speaking from Rasharkin about what happened at St Patrick's on Friday morning, Rev Gibson did not feel there was a problem as the church was closed at the time.

I notice the doors were closed on the chapel - it's an empty building. Had it been in service, the bands would have played hymns or whatever.

Rev Mervyn Gibson, Orange Order

"We have adhered to our comprehensive template," the Orange Order chaplain said.

"It's a main commercial street into Belfast. If people go along there, they're going along to be deliberately offended."

Rev Gibson added: "I don't believe it's a deliberate defiance.

"We will protest against the Parades Commission, but we're out to have our traditional Twelfth - to enjoy it, not to offend anyone."

Sinn Féin Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has said that the issue needs to be addressed.

"Bands played provocative and sectarian tunes passing both St Patrick's and Carrick Hill. Indeed, one band actually sang the racist Famine song seconds after passing St Patrick's," Ms Ní Chuilín said.

"Several unionist politicians also took part in the parade and the question they need to answer is - are they condoning the breaking of the law and this blatant sectarian and provocative behaviour?

"This lawbreaking needs to be taken into account by the Parades Commission in future determinations, and the PPS and PSNI need to take action or this flouting of the law will continue."

Head of Friday morning's parade, amid a heavy police presence, around 100 nationalist protestors gathered in the area and waved a flag saying: "Respect St Patrick's Church".

Does the Orange Order who organise these parades support this behaviour?

Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín

Frank Dempsey from the Carrick Hill Residents' Association told UTV that local people felt "disappointed, angry and betrayed".

He said: "The determination smashed again ... They have danced the whole way through these determinations and once again we see the police enforcing the determination in the people of Carrick Hill and totally ignoring what is happening here."

The parade has since passed through the area without major incident.

During the main parade, Orange leaders staged a protest at the Parades Commission's headquarters in Bedford Street and attached a banner to trees outside Windsor House.

County Grand Master George Chittick said that the Order "denounced" the watchdog, which it claimed had only arbitrary power.

He added: "As Orangemen at the Battle of the Boyne, our forefathers got rid of arbitrary power and we will not accept it now - never. No surrender."

Police say they are continuing to monitor developments and that where there are possible breaches of the Parades Commission rulings, they will be investigated.

On Friday evening, the return parade also passed off peacefully - although, at one point, a stand-off did develop at Clifton Street as Orangemen and two bands tried to walk back towards the church.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
247 Comments
Ian in Newtownabbey wrote (279 days ago):
The whole situation is a complete farce. Every common law abiding citizen who works for a living would tend to agree that this provides nothing in terms of promoting Northern Ireland or protecting cultures. These people have nothing to offer Northern Ireland and are happy to live in in isolated world of self perpetuating misery. This is fine if they are happy to live this way, however the rest of the real world actually want to achieve something and they are trying to tell us how to live. This is not the 1970's anymore, times have changed and you are being left behind. The law of survival states that the organisms must adaptable to change survive, perhaps they could learn something from this and it begins by simply talking.
jim in dublin wrote (279 days ago):
the impression i get is they only played that tune outside that church because they knew it would be offensive
outside lookin in in buckna wrote (279 days ago):
very soon the british government is going to wash there hands of northern Ireland,the uk won't want them and the republic won't want them
DavyNez in Armagh wrote (279 days ago):
Google the lyrics of the sash, there's not a secterian word in it.
maggie in north of ireland wrote (279 days ago):
Patick Spain. Rev Gibson is not a bigot being brought up in the reformed faith. simply this there is no understand on how the Roman Catholic view their place of worship as being the place that contains the body of Christ after communion. Protestants have a faith that although God hears and sees what we do and say. Jesus arose from the Grave and his body became alive and assended into heaven. This means he cannot be contained in our place of worship..Now if it was the case that Jesus Christ was resting in St Patrick's church. Would playing the sash in reality offend him. Maybe the language used would be more likely offend a HOLY GOD. We hear "Christ" Jesus" being used as swear words every day. Is this not more likely offend holy God that the playing of the sash my father wore.I do aplogise for the Protestant not understanding of your faith.
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