Northern Ireland

Orange Order lodge sorry over flute band parading at City Hall

Orange order Image copyright Getty Images

An Orange Order lodge has apologised to Belfast City Council after a loyalist band paraded inside City Hall.

Videos shared on social media showed uniformed members of a Glasgow-based band, the Govan Protestant Boys, parading in the building on Saturday.

The band was accused of playing some sectarian tunes and breaking rules by marching in corridors and the reception.

The council confirmed it has since received an apology.

BBC News NI has seen the contents of a letter sent to City Hall by the Belfast lodge involved, the George Telford Memorial Lodge.

The letter said that the event was a centenary dinner that "had been planned for upwards of two years".

"We are therefore extremely disappointed that this important event in the lodge's history has been overshadowed as a result of a misunderstanding on the night concerning the band we had engaged as part of the night's entertainment and, in particular, where and when they could play.

Image caption The incident happened at Belfast City Hall

"We wish to make it clear that the decision to allow the band to play outside of the function room was made without the approval or prior knowledge of any lodge officer, County Grand Lodge officer or elected representative present at the function.

"The lodge, as the organiser of the function, however accepts responsibility for this unfortunate incident and apologises for any offence it may have caused."

The letter added that the lodge had launched its own internal investigation and would also review how "we plan, host and manage all future events, irrespective of the nature or location of those events, to ensure no similar incidents take place".

Sinn Féin, SDLP and Alliance Party councillors condemned what happened and an investigation was launched at City Hall.

A council spokesperson confirmed on Friday it had "received a letter of apology from the Orange Order" over what happened last Saturday,

The spokesperson added: "The investigation is still ongoing."

The George Telford Memorial Lodge is based at Clifton Street Orange Hall in north Belfast.

More on this story