Northern Ireland

Loyalist band filmed outside north Belfast Catholic church

A loyalist band has been filmed stopping to play loyalist tunes outside a Catholic church in north Belfast.

The incident happened at St Patrick's Church on Donegall Street during the Twelfth of July parade on Thursday.

The band - wearing Shankill YCV uniforms - was recorded walking around in circles outside the church by two different people.

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?".

Sinn Fein activist JJ Magee said he started to film the band 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."

Mr Magee, who was not injured, said he remained as calm as he could as he looked to see if anyone was going to help him.

"The police officer, who was in charge of the situation, he noticed it and just went for his baton straight away," he said.

"He swung at the Orangemen and bandsmen and pushed them back onto the road."

'Dancing to drums'

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.

Such incidents had been occurring for several years in the area, he added.

Sinn Fein's Conor Maskey saw the end of the incident.

"The actions of the band outside St Patrick's Church was deeply provocative," he said.

He said the words of the famine song were "deeply offensive and verging on racism".

Community worker Frank Dempsey described it as "totally provocative".

"Every year, up around Carrickhill and St Patrick's Chapel, we're subject to the same thing," he said.

In a statement the PSNI said: "During a parade through the area it was observed that two bands continued to play whilst stationary 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.

"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."