Northern Ireland

Nelson McCausland says ban defiance 'almost inevitable'

DUP MLA Nelson McCausland has said the actions of loyalist bands in Belfast on Saturday were "almost inevitable" given the "anger" felt about the Parades Commission.

The bands defied a ban on playing music passing a Catholic church, with one band taking part illegally.

Mr McCausland refused to criticise or condemn their actions.

He said it would not be appropriate because of an ongoing police investigation.

"After a summer of bizarre decisions by the commission, there was an anger within the unionist community and this was almost inevitable," he said.

Defied restrictions

Trouble erupted in Belfast on Saturday after the bands defied Parades Commission restrictions on the Royal Black Institution march in the city.

The City of Belfast Grand Black Chapter demonstration was being held in the city for the first time.

This year, it marked the centenary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant.

Police Federation chairman Terry Spence appealed to politicians to get together to try and sort out the "contentious issue of parades in Northern Ireland".

He said that more than 1,100 police officers had been injured as a result of public disorder in Northern Ireland since 2005.

"It is incumbent that all of our politicians come together and try to ensure that we have some semblance of peace at these controversial parades," he added.

"The Parades Commission don't always get it right, they aren't without faults, but the reality is, in the context of Northern Ireland, they are the only show in town."

SDLP assembly member Alban Maginness said the Parades Commission might find it difficult to allow an Orange Order application to march past St Patrick's Catholic Church on Donegall Street next month.

"All of the events on Saturday will have to be taken into consideration by the Parades Commission, which will look at evidence presented by the police and their own monitors," said the North Belfast MLA.

"The display that we saw on Saturday cannot be repeated."

Protests

About 63 preceptories were on parade on Saturday, including 2,300 members of the institution. They were accompanied by 33 bands.

Restrictions were also imposed on music being played during the feeder parade past the Ardoyne shops and past Catherine Court off the Shore Road.

A number of residents' associations were granted permission to hold protests at the parades.

The Royal Black Institution in Belfast had criticised the Parades Commission's rulings ahead of Saturday's event.

The bands were not allowed to play music while passing St Patrick's Church.

A number of protesters were separated from the march by a large police presence.

The Shankill Road-based Young Conway Volunteers band also defied a ruling that barred them from marching past the church.

The band had been filmed walking in circles outside the same church while playing a contentious song on 12 July.

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