Northern Ireland

Loyalist band's actions 'totally inappropriate'

A member of the Parades Commission has said the playing of loyalist tunes outside a Catholic church last week was "totally inappropriate".

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.

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.

"We'll look at all the reports that we have, all the monitor's reports, the police reports and we will take everything into consideration when we're considering parades," said Rev Kennaway, a former Orange Order chaplain.

"But this is an issue of public order for the police to deal with."

At one point the band was playing the music of "the famine song", which originated in Glasgow.

It 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?".

In 2009, appeal court judges in Scotland ruled that the song was racist.

Senior judge Lord Carloway said the song's chorus "displays malice and ill-will towards people of Irish descent living in Scotland".

'Swinging kicks'

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."

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.

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."

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