Nelson McCausland: Band's actions misrepresented by media
- 16 July 2012
- From the section Northern Ireland
A senior member of the Orange Order says coverage of a loyalist band filmed playing tunes outside a Catholic Church last week has been incorrectly portrayed by the media.
The incident happened at St Patrick's Church on Donegall Street during the Twelfth of July parade.
A band was filmed walking around in circles outside the church by two different people.
Nelson McCausland said the band did not deliberately stop outside the church.
He said although the actions of the band were "thoughtless and naive", Mr McCausland said how the incident had been covered in the media had been blown out of proportion.
He said the band did not deliberately set out to offend.
"If someone was intending to be provocative or inflammatory which is the suggestion that is being made, it wasn't really very provocative," he said.
"It was just an empty building. There was no-one there to be provoked."
The Parades Commission described the incident as "totally inappropriate".
Rev Brian Kennaway said the commission would look into how it was allowed to happen.
At the end of one of the videos, the person recording it is confronted and threatened by members of another band.
At one point the band was playing the music of "the famine song", an anti-Catholic song which originated in Glasgow.
The famine song is played to the music of the Beach Boys' Sloop John B, but replaces the chorus "I feel so broke up, I wanna go home" with "The famine is over, why don't you go home?".
"Most of the tunes, in fact all of tunes I recognised up to that point were actually pop songs," said Mr McCausland.
"It was only one single tune which has been identified as being potentially contentious.
"If the band had wanted to be provocative or inflammatory as they have been described on the BBC and elsewhere, they wouldn't have waited all that time to play one tune and spent the rest of the time playing pop tunes."
The flute band was filmed by Sinn Fein activist JJ Magee.
He said he started filming with his phone outside the church as he thought they were being very provocative.
"I noticed out of the side of my eye two guys approaching me and they started shouting at me and threatening me," Mr Magee said.
"I started slowly walking up the street backwards, but then some of them started trying to snatch the phone off me.
"I then just had to protect myself and stop the guy swinging his stick at me and the other guys coming at me from the side swinging and pushing at me and then a couple of Orangemen with sashes on broke from the ranks and came over and started swinging kicks at me."
The man who filmed the other video - and who did not want to be named - said it happened shortly after the main Belfast Orange Order parade left Carlisle Circus.
He said there was a delay in the parade and the band moved from where they were standing to play outside the church.
He said they played for 15 to 20 minutes and at one point were dancing outside it while drums were being played.
Mr McCausland said the band did not intentionally stop outside the church.
"The parade stopped at that point because the front of the parade had reached the city hall and there was a wreath-laying ceremony taking place at the cenotaph, therefore the parade came to a halt during that," he said.
"The band could equally have been stopped outside a paper shop or a chip shop. It simply was by coincidence that they were outside St Patrick's."
In a statement the PSNI said that it had been observed that two bands had continued to play when they had stopped outside the church.
"Although it was deemed that this was not in breach of a Parades Commission determination, officers liaised with parade stewards to negotiate an end to this action," continued the statement.
"Police evidence gatherers were also tasked to the area to monitor and record the incident.
"Officers intervened when a member of the public privately recording the incident was approached by a group of men. Throughout this incident police worked closely with stewards and organisers to resolve the situation peacefully.
"A considerable amount of footage has been recorded and will be studied closely. If any criminal offences are detected a full and thorough investigation will be carried out."
In a statement, Belfast County Grand Lodge said: "The institution reviews all parades and will take any issues into account in that review."