A PRIEST on Wednsday night said he hoped the judgment in the case of 13 (unlucky for sum number) loyalist bandsmen who played a sectarian tune outside his Belfast Catholic Church would send a clear message for future parades.
Three members of the Young Conway Volunteers ( a band allinged to the morden day UVF) on Wednsday 29th April received suspended jail sentences after being filmed playing the Famine Song while marching in a circle outside St Patrick’s Church in July 2012. Ten others were bound over to keep the peace, and £300 in fines were imposed on all but two of the accused. District Judge Paul Copeland told them: ” This was outrageous and inflammatory behaviour, which could have precipitated serious public disorder.” St Patrick’s parish priest Fr Michael Sheehan, said he “noted the very clear judgement” and hoped “this will add clarity for future bands and to future determinations by the Parades Commisssion”. “Again I encocourage all to follow and adhere to the determinations in contentious parades.” Shame Fein councillor JJ Magee, who recorded the footage of the band, said the convictons “send out a clear message that sectarianism will not be tolerated”. However, a TUV councillor described the news as “disgusting” and offered to pay part of the fine imposed on one loyalist. The bandsmen had fought a charge of ‘doing a provocative act likely to cause public disorder or a breach of the peace’. They denied playing the Famine Song – including the line ‘The famine’s over, why don’t you go home?’ – claiming instead to have been performing the Beach Boys hit Sloop John B. Convicted were: Aaron McCory (29) of Argyle Court; Alan Adlam (42) from Dewey Street; Christopher McKay (24) of Wallasey Park; Bryan Green (27) of Canmore Court; Stephen Smyth (22) from Tennent Streeet; William Carlisle (30) from Ainsworth Avenue; Jonathan Airdrie (25) of Columbia Street; Paul Shaw (35) of Geoffrey Street; Thomas Gibney (36) from Lawnbrook Avenue – all in Belfast – and Ryan Aitcheson (28) of Ravelston Avenue in Newtownabbey. Charges were also brought against three other youths. Defence lawyers played songs by a Swedish folk singer, a Star Trek enthusiast and football fan chants – all to the same tune – in a bid to have their clients cleared. Paul Shaw, band leader on the day, said they had been forced to stop outside St Patrick’s due to a break in the July 12th parade and started up the Beach Boys to ward off lethargy amoung members tired from the previous night. He revealed that he later penned a letter to Catholic parishioners “to explain the band in no way had intention to cause any upset to anybody”. However, Judge Copeland said it was “a studied and deliberate piece of conduct which involved their playing and marching (pictued above outside St Patrick’s) not just past this church, but deliberately remaining within feet of the doorstep”. He added that the Famine Song has entered into the “repertoire” of loyalist band music and had the potential “as an anthem of sectarian abuse at least, or, at worst, racial hatred”. Five-month prison sentences, suspended for two years, were imposed on McCrory, McKay and Airdrie. The other 10 were each bound over to keep the peace for the next two years. A lawyer for Shaw and one of the teenagers confirmed their intention to appeal the verdict.
Shame Fein councillor welcomes convictions of bandsmen
Mr Magee shot damning footage of the band walking in circles while playing the controversial song – previously judged to be racist by a Scotish court – during a July 12 march. The episode sparked one of the most bitter parades disputes across the North of Ireland in recent years as well as bringing the Famine Song to wider attention. The hate-filled tune was also at the centre of controversy recently after Bangor Protestant Boys played it within earshot of St Patrick’s Church during an Apprentice Boys parade on Easter Monday. While loyal order marches past the city centre church and nearby nationalist Carrick Hill district have been contentious down the years, the event outside St Patrick’s Church in 2012 dramatically raised tensions and provoked protests by residents which have continued since. Based on the loyalist Shankill Road, the Young Conway Volunteers band was formed in 2007 for the “preservation and promotion” of the memory of Thomas Kinner – a member of the UVF youth wing, the Young Citizen Volunteers, who died in 2003. At the time unionist politicians defended the band including former DUP minister Nelson McCausland, who described their actions as “naive”. Shame Fein accused Mr McCausland and North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds of being “in close proximity” to the bandsmen but failing to intervene. The band was at the centre of more controversy weeks later when it defied a Parades Commission ruling not to take part in Royal Black Institution march past St Patrick’s Church. Prior to the August parade First Minister Peter (the lock keeper got it in) Robinson was one of several unionist politicians and band members who signed an open letter to then Secretary of State Owen Patterson complaining about the YCV ban and warning of possible violence. The letter called Mr Patterson a ‘Pontius Pilate’ and urged him to disband the Parades Commission, accusing it of making “a monstrous determination that defies logic and natural justice”. The Royal Black Institution later apologised to clergy and parishioners of St Patrick’s Church after bands defied commission rulings on music and trouble broke out, leaving seven police officers injured. Tensions have remained high during subsequent marches past the church, with protesters claiming bands have continued to breach determinations. Last year 17 members of the YCV band were cleared of breaching a commission determination relating to the August parade after a judge ruled it could not be proved they knew anything about the ruling. Two ‘Pride of Ardoyne’ drummers were also cleared of knowingly breaching restrictions afer citing eyesight and reading limitations for not seeing signs warning to play a single drumbeat. Questions were then asked of the legal system when, weeks later, six members of the Constable Anderson Memorial Band from Larne in Co Antrim were convicted of flouting a Parades Commission ruling not to play music outside St Patrick’s Church during the same parade. In April last year 11 members of Dunmurry Protestant Boys were acquitted of provocatively playing a sectarian tune outside the church during an Apprentice Boys parade in November 2012. They had denied striking up the Famine Song, claiming instead they were playing the Beach Boys’ Sloop john B, which uses the same air. A judge threw the case out on the basis that it could not be proven that a breach of the peace (one law for Protestants another for Catholics) was either intended or likely. But later that month the most senior member of the Royal Black Institution in Belfast was one of five members of the organisation convicted of knowingly breaching a ban on loyalist bands playing music outside St Patrick’s Church. William Mawhinney was also the Orange Order’s Belfast county secretary and has played a central part in demonstrations connected to the loyalist protest camp in the Twaddell area close to Ardoyne in North Belfast. Meanwhile, in 2013 William Bell (48), known as Billy, admitted assaulting JJ Magee during the July 2012 parade as it past Saint Patrick’s Church in North Belfast. Bell waved a club-shaped stick at the Shame Fein member, who has since been elected to Belfast City Council, as he was filming the band outside the church. Mr Magee welcomed the latest convictions on Wednsday night. “It sends out a clear message that sectarianism will not be tolerated,” he said. “Time and time again bands stick two fingers up to the parishioners of St Patrick’s Church. He also called on the Orange Order, which to date has refused to meet Carrick Hill residents, to enter into talks. The Orange Order, which hires these bands, claims it wants respect for its expression of culture but they need to realise that respect is a two-way street,” he said. A spokesman for the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast said: “As the ruling is the subject of a possible appeal it would be inappropiate to comment.” The DUP’s Nelson McCausland meanwhile said he was “appalled” at a decision to not prosecute a band called The Druids who were accused of making anti-British army remarks during last year’s Ardoyne Fleadh. He said it was ,” Ironic that this decision has been revealed on the same day” as the YCV band members were convicted.
With many thanks to: Connla Young, The Irish News, for the origional story.
Politician offers to help pay court
A TUV politician has offered to help pay the court fine handed down to one of the bandsmen convicted on Wednsday April 29th.
Jolene Bunting, Belfast’s only a TUV councillor, said she would pay part of the £300 fine imposed on Christopher McKay. McKay, of Wallasey Park in North Belfast, was one of three bandsmen given a five-month prison sentence suspended for two years. Shortly after the court hearing, the 24-year-old expressed his anger over the sentence on Facebook. Replaying to his message, Ms Bunting wrote: “Absolutely disgusting, there was NOT illegal about what the band done (sic). I will give you a couple of pound towarwards your fine Chrissy.” However, McKay told the councillor that a financial contribution was unnecessary. “No mate its sweet ill get it paid chum iv 10 weeks mate,”he wrote. A number of Facebook friends also showed their support for the defendent and criticised the court decision. McKay described it as “shockin like cuz were prods”. Last year Ms Bunting apologised for sectarian comments she made online in 2011 about Catholics. The councillor, aged in her early twenties, had been heavily criticised for the remarks after being elected to the new Belfast super council. One message read: “I’m so sick of the poor Catholic bastards they make me sick.” Ms Bunting adimitted what she wrote was “wrong” – but said she didn’t regret the content, “I do not want to appologise for the innocent people in the Court ward who I offended by using the word Catholic when I ment republicans,” she said.
With many thanks to: Brendan Hughes, The Irish News, For the orgional story.
UNIONIST politicians have voiced their “disgust” after a ‘rebel song’ commemorating 10 brave Irish republicans who died in the 1981 Hunger Strike reached number 24 in the UK singles’ charts.
The Roll of Honour lyrics
Read the roll of honour of Ireland’s bravest men.We must be united in memory of the ten. England you’re a monster, don’t think you have won.We will never be defeated while Ireland has such sons. In those dreary H-Block cages, ten brave young Irishmen lay. Hungering for justice as their young lives ebbed away. For their rights as Irish soldiers and to free their native land. They stood beside their leader – the gallant Bobby Sands. Now they mourn Hughes in Bellaghy. Ray McCreesh in Armagh hills. In those narrow streets of Derry, they miss O’Hara still. They so proudly give their young lives to break Britannia’s hold. Their names will be remembered as history unfolds. Through the war-torn streets of Ulster the black flags did sadly sway. To salute ten Irish martyrs the bravest of the brave. Joe McDonnell, Martin Hudson, Kevin Lynch, Korean Doherty. They gave their lives for freedom with Thomas McElwee. Michael Define from Derry you were the last to die. With your nine brave companions with the martyred dead you lie. Your souls cry out: “Remember, our deaths were not in vain. Fight on and make our homeland a nation once again!”.
The Roll of Honour rocketed up the ‘hit list’ this week after Celtic supporters in Scotland launched a campaign to see it reach number one by Sunday by downloading via the internet. The move came after the Scottish authorities outlawed the singing of Irish ‘rebel songs’ at Scottish football grounds under the Offensive Behaviour At Football Act. The campaign is being organised by a Celtic supporters’ umbrella group, Fans Against Criminalisation (FAC), which has been given permission to release the song by folk band, The Irish Brigade. Originally penned in the 1980s, the song pays tribute to 10 IRA and INLA members who died during the 1981 Hunger Strike. The song’s lyrics include the line: “England you’re a monster, don’t think that you won, we will never be defeated while Ireland has such sons.” And in the final line calls on people to “fight on” for a free Ireland. A number of people have been convicted for singing the song at Scottish football grounds while several are currently awaiting trial.
Despite this, last April a Celtic fan was cleared of inciting public disorder by a Scottish court after he was detected singing the song at a football game in Dundee. Ulster Unionist Party justice spokesman Tom Elliot said the FAC campaign was an “absolute disgrace and I condemn their actions without reservation.” He also urged Celtic Football Club to take action. “This is not an issue that can be swept under the carpet. Stern action is required so that the club’s good name is not tarnished by assocation with people who would seek to glorify terrorism,” he said. Loyalist victims’ groups have also condemned the campaign. Rebel songs have been sung by a section of the Celtic support for many decades. Other songs with an Irish theme regularly heard at Celtic games include The Fields of Athenry and the ballad of Aidan McAnespie – a young GAA player shot dead by the British army near Aughnacloy in Co Tyrone in 1988. A spokesman for FAC defended the download campaign. “The campaign is not about encouraging people to sing the song, it’s about saying this song should not be a criminal offence to sing,” she said. “It’s not a criminal offence unless you are a football fan. “The Offensive Behaviour At Football Act is a bad law which attempts to restrict freedom of expression and that is wrong.” A sectarian song associated with Rangers supporters led to months of unrest and the creation of a new parades flashpoint in Belfast after it was played by a loyalist band outside St Patrick’s Catholic Church in North Belfast. The anti-Catholic lyrics of The Famine Song instruct the Irish community in Scotland to “go home”. Loyalist Billy Hutchinson called the campaign “insensitive and childish.” The Progressive Unionist Party leader said: “Many people will find this initiative callous and insentive, particularly those who have been victims of republican violence and terror. “There seems to be an increase in sectarianism associated with fans of Celtic FC and I think it is time the club acted to address this. “This really amounts to nothing more than a pathetic and childish act, and those responsible need to grow up.”
With many thanks to: Connla Young, The Irish News.
In what is beleived to be the first case of its kind, Co Down man Thomas Beresford was sentenced to three months behind bars for flouting the ban on playing sectarian music during last year’s Ulster Covenant centenary parade. A co-accused had his three-month jail term suspended yesterday at BelfastMagistrates Court, while another member had his case adjourned until the new year. The banbsmen had been identified in footage of the Holywood True Blues band playing The sash as they passed St Matthew‘s on Newtownards Road in east Belfast on September 29. The commission had ruled that only hymns or a single drumbeat could be played as they passed the church.
The development came as police cobfirmed they had closed their investigation into a loyalist bandsman caught on camera urinating outside St Matthew’s during the same parade. There was outrage in the wake of the incident, with the Orange Order describing the bandsman’s actions as “outrageous and unacceptable”. Although it is known which band he belonged to, police have never been able to identify the bandsman. A police spokesman said the “corresponding police investigation into this summary of evidence could not conclusively identify the individual”. “As with any summary offence, it becomes statute-barred after a six month period, which therefore means that this investigation is now closed.” The covenant parade – which brought thousands of Orangeman, bands and supporters onto the streets to mark the centenary of the signing of the document opposing Home Rule – had been marred by sectarian scenes and multiple parade ruling breaches. Loyalist residents held up banners that read ‘We don’t want hymns’ and ‘Play Loud and Proud’ during the march near St Matthew’s. Some stopped brefiy outside the church while banned tunes such as The sash and the Famine Song were played. Beresford, of Strathearn Court in Holywood, has been released on bail pending a date for appeal.
Police close probe into urinating loyalist!
“Outrageous and unacceptable”
POLICE have closed their investigation into a loyalist bandsman caught on camera urinating outside a Catholic church during an Orange Order parade in Belfast last year.
The man, a member of Burnside Sons of Ulster from near Doagh, Co Antrim was photographed urinating outside St Matthew’s Catholic Churh during the Ulster Covenant centenary parade last September. Police said yesterday that they had not managed to identify the man and have now closed their investigation in line with the law. The Orange Order launced their own probe (ha,ha,ha,) but the bandsman was never identified. The Orange Order would only say that the band had expressed “regret” (another fucking joke) and sent its members on a “good relations course” (are they having a fucking laugh). The development comes after a bandsman was jailed on Tuesday for breaching a Parades Commission ruling at the same parade. Thomas Beresford is beleived to be the first person jailed for breaching a determination after playing sectarian songs outside the Catholic church. There were angry scenes in Belfast Magistrates Court as the 21-year-old, from Strathearn Court in Holywood, was sentenced to serve three months in jail for floutinga ban on playing non-sacred music while passing St Matthew’s. Relatives of the bass drummer were warned to be queit after they shouted in court that the sentence was “a disgrace”. A district judge said having “considered a pre-sentence report” was of the opinion that the offence “was so serious that only such a sentence can be justified”.
His co accused 28-year-old Stephen Walker, from Church Green in Holywood, had a three-month jail term suspended for 18 months. A third band member Darren Walker (20), from Thornleigh Park in Lisburn, had his case adjourned until the new year. Breaching a parades commission ruling is a summary offence, which was normally dealt with in the past by way of a fine of probation orders. The men had been identified in footage of the Holywood True Blues band playing The Sash as they passed the Newtownards Road church in east Belfast, on September 29. The parades body had ruled that only hymns or a single drum beat could be played by bands as they passed the church. Police displayed flashing signs warning ‘Sacred tunes, hymns only from this point’ as bandsmen approached. At a previous hearing a judge described claims by bandsmen that they had not seen flashing warning signs as “inconceivable and incredible”. Beresford was released on bail pending a date for the appeal. There were a catalogue of breaches of the commissions determination amid sectarian scenes at the east Belfast flashpoint during last year’s Covenant parade. Loyalist residents held up banners stating ‘We don’t want hymns’ and ‘Play Loud and Proud’ during the march. Many of the bands taking part in the return leg of the march breached the parades commission ruling. Some stopped briefly outside the church while banned tunes such as The Sash and The Famine Songwere played. Bands who adhered to the ruling and played a single drum beat were jeered by some of those lining the route.
With many thanks to: Allison Morris and Claire Simpson, The Irish News.
In the latest incident on Saturday, a band taking part in a Royal Black Institution parade played The Sash while Mass was being celebrated inside. The Parades Commission had ruled that the return parade be completed ahead of Mass on Saturday evening. The latest breach by loyalist bandsmen outside St Patrick’s comes on the back of a number of breaches so far this year. On July 12 last year, the Young Conway Volunteers band drew widespread criticism after its members were videoed marching in circles outside the church while playing the sectarian ‘Famine Song‘. Dozens of loyalist bandsmen are facing prosecution over the incident, which prompted subsequent restrictions from the parades body. Fr Sheehan said it was regrettable that the PSNI had allowed the parade to pass the church during Mass.
North Belfast politicians urged the authorities to get tough with those flouting parades rulings. Carpal Ni Chuilin, the Stormont culture minister, said there was a growing concern that those who breached the parades body’s rulings were escaping prosecution. “There have been consistent breaches this year by bands of conditions laid down by the Parades Commissions determinations,” said the Sinn Fein MLA. “There is growing public opinion that these bands and breach determinations have a level of impunity.” North Belfast assembly member Albany Maginness called for “decisive action” from the police and Public Prosecution Service (PPS) to target those responsible for the breaches. The SDLP representative said Massgoers consistently complained to him about the lack of prosecutions.
“I have no complaints about the policing, which was fair and reasonable, but these repeated violations of Parades Commission determinations need to be addressed and I see no evidence of that from the PSNI or PPS,” he said. A spokesman for the Parades Commission said the body would review its own monitor reports on Saturday’s parade as well as information from the PSNI. “Any breach of a determination is a matter for the police to investigate and those involved could be liable to prosecution.”
With many thanks to : John Manley (Political Reporter), The Irish News.
‘The decision has been taken to prosecute 15 individuals in relation to an incident at St Patrick‘s Church on July 12 2012 – PPS spokeswoman.
FIFTEEN members of a loyalist band filmed playing sectarian music while marching in circles outside a Catholic church are set to be prosecuted. Controversy erupted after members of Young Conway Volunteers were recorded playing the ‘Famine Song‘ at St Patrick’s Church in Belfast city centre on the Twelfth of July last year.
The song contains anti-Catholic and anti-Irish lyrics and is sung by Glasgow Rangers supporters and loyalists. The episode, which made international headlines, was blamed for making the St Patrick’s area a new parading flashpoint and stoking wider tensions across the north of the city. More than a year after the footage emerged, it is understood band members are to be prosecuted for the offence of “doing a provocative act”. Since last years parade – part of the main Twelfth procession through Belfast city centre – parishioners at St Patrick’s and local residents have objected to loyal order marches passing the church and the nearby nationalist district of Carrick Hill. Based on the Shan kill Road, the Young Conway Volunteers band was formed in 2007 for the “preservation and promotion” of the memory of Thomas Skinner – a member of the UVF youth wing, the Young Citizen Volunteers, who died in 2003.
The band caused more controversy last August when it defied a Parades Commission ruling not to take part in a Royal Black Institution parade past St Patrick’s. Violence flared when a large number of bands also broke a commission determination by playing music as they passed the church. Members of Young Conway Volunteers took part in this year’s Twelfth parade past St Patrick’s with a band called Young Citizens Volunteers. To date only one person has been convicted of offences a raising out of the July 2012 incident outside St Patrick’s. In March this year William Bell (48), known as Billy, admitted assaulting north Belfast man JJ Magee. Bell waved a club-shaped stick at the Sinn Fein member as he was filming the YCV band outside the church. It is understood members of the band will appear in court later this month.
A spokeswoman for the Public Prosecution Service confirmed: “The decision has been taken to pprosecute 15 individuals in relation to an incident at St Patrick’s Church on July 12 2012.” Meanwhile, security is set to be tight around St Patrick’s this weekend when the Apprentice Boys parade takes place past the church on Saturday involving one band and up to 55 people. The band taking part has been ordered to play only hymns from the junction of Clifton Street and West Link and Donegal Street and Union Street. Nationalists residents have also been given permission to hold a protest during the parade.
Republicans and loyalists apply to march same contentious route
THERE have been appeals for calm after a republican band and the Royal Black Institution applied for permission to march on the same Belfast street later this month. Members of the Royal Black Institution have applied to walk past St Patricks Church and nearby nationalist district of Carrick Hill on August 25 as they make their way to south Belfast for a church service.
Up to two bands and 300 people are expected to take part. However, it has also emerged that North Belfast-based Henry Joy McCracken Flute Band has also applied to march through Carrick Hill on its way to Clifton Street Cemetery shortly after the loyal order parade. Serious violence erupted during a Royal Black Institution ‘Last Saturday’ parade past St Patrick‘s last year. Tensions in the area have been high since Shankill Road-based band Young Conway Volunteers were filmed walking in circles outside the church while playing the sectarian ‘Famine Song‘ on July 12 last year. The republican parade has been organised to commemorate United Irishman Henry Joy McCracken who was executed by British forces in 1798 and who is buried in Clifton Street Cemetery. Up to seven bands and 500 people are expected to take part in the parade which will leave Ardoyne before traveling through north Belfast to New Lodge and on to Carrick Hill. Trouble flared during a similar parade last year when around 200 loyalist protested as the republican band and supporters passed Clifton Street Orange Hall. A number of senior loyalists were pictured on the balcony of Clifton Street Orange hall as the parade passed.
Although both parades have applied to start at 2pm, organisers of the republican event say they will not leave Ardoyne until 3pm and expect those taking part in the Royal Black Institution march to have passed Clifton Street before they arrive. On the return journey the Royal Black Institution parade is expected to have passed Clifton Street and reached its end point on the Crumlin Road by 5.30pm while the republican parade will leave the cemetery at 6pm before returning along Clifton Street. Henry Joy McCracken committee member Sammy Cusick appealed for calm ahead of the parade and urged those intent on trouble to “stay away”. “We are trying to bill this as inclusive for all,” he said. “Our band is named after Henry Joy McCracken and you know he was a Presbyterian, a Protestant, who fought to break the connection with England. “We don’t want to be stoking sectarian tensions at this time and the reason we have a return parade in the evening was to take the crowd away from the area.” Mr Cusick said the band had voluntarily marched along Clifton Street playing just a single drumbeat last year and a similar gesture this year had not been ruled out. A spokesman for the Royal Black Institution said: “We will be parading to our annual church parade service which we hope causes no offence to anyone. Only hymn music will be played on the way out and back from the church service.”
With many thanks to : Connla Young, The Irish news.