Belfast Covenant parade begins peacefully

 

A contentious Unionist parade passed a Catholic church in Belfast went
off without incident, but residents have accused the marchers of
breaking rules.

More than 2,000 Orangemen from north Belfast lodges were surrounded by a heavy police presence as they marched towards City Hall to take part in a massive loyal order parade to mark the centenary of the signing of the pro-Union Ulster Covenant.

An estimated 30,000 marchers are taking part in the Orange Order march - from the City Hall to the grounds of the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont in east Belfast.

Unionists agreed with the Parades Commission to play only hymns along Donegall Street - from the Carrick Hill junction to Royal Avenue - as they passed St Patrick's Church near the city centre.

Locals had requested that no music be played outside the church.

The place of worship has been the scene of disorder at points during the summer after a band was accused of playing sectarian music outside it on July 12.

Protesters and residents claimed the bands breached the rules set by the Parades Commission by playing the most famous Unionist anthem - The Sash - before reaching the end of the stretch.

Carrick Hill Residents Association chairman Frank Dempsey said they had flouted the rules.

"That determination has been smashed," said Mr Dempsey.

"Some of the bands, yes, they did stick by it, there's no problem there. But a number of them bands broke that."

The local man insisted he was not nitpicking over the rules set by the commission.

"You saw the way they danced there with the drum and that's supposed to be a hymn," he said.

But, Father Michael Sheehan, administrator of St Patrick's, said while some of the bands beat their drums exuberantly, he believed they showed respect during the 20-minute march outside the church.

He insisted the talks with the Parades Commission had been fruitful, saying continued dialogue was needed to avoid future trouble.

"They marched with dignity down the road," added Fr Sheehan.

"I think a degree of respect was shown that hasn't been shown before."

Lodges including the Pride of Ardoyne and Pride of the Shore played Abide With Me and Onward Christian Soldiers, as spectators looked on.

Police were on high alert, with up to 50 Land Rovers stationed along the flashpoint at St Patrick's.

The massive parade will finish at Stormont with a cultural festival held to commemorate the 1912 proclamation against plans for Home Rule in Ireland.

Other contentious sections of the participants' journeys to and from the main meeting point at Stormont will also be monitored by police.

The commission has also placed the sacred music restriction on those bands that will pass St Matthew's Catholic Church in Newtownards Road close to Stormont.

Politicians from across the political divide have appealed for calm at the event which is set to be one of the biggest loyal order parades seen in Belfast.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'