Speaking today after numerous bands in the Ulster Covenant Parade blatantly breached the Parades Commission determination by playing the Sash and other sectarian music going past St Matthews Chapel, East Belfast Sinn Féin Councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile said this evening;
"Yet again we have seen numerous bands taking part in today's Covenant
Parade openly defy the Parades Commission's determination while passing St
Matthews Church. This is deeply unfortunate, although not entirely surprising
given the record of the Loyal Orders and associated bands in this part of the
I think it is now vital that the Short Strand community hear a clear message
from Unionist & Church leaders in East Belfast, particularly from local MLA
and First Minister Peter Robinson, condemning those who have deliberately tried
to heighten sectarian tensions and undermine the vital cross community work
that goes on in this area without any positive contribution from the Loyal
Orders, as a result of their actions passing St Matthews.
These breaches also took place less than 200 yards from The Rev. Mervin
Gibson's own Church, I think it is essential that he sends a clear message of
opposition to those who chose to break the law today that they have no place
within the context of a shared and respectful east Belfast.
I want to commend the parishioners of St Matthews who, despite obvious
intimidation, did not allow themselves to be drawn into any kind of negative
exchange; in fact this community has worked tirelessly in recent days to
organise diversionary events to give people a positive outlet throughout the
day, while this part of Belfast was effectively shut down to citizens. I want
to thank those community and youth leaders who have worked so hard today.
The focus will no doubt now shift to the PSNI and the Public Prosecution
Service to ensure that they do what is required to bring those responsible for
breaking the law before the courts and for the Parades Commission to indicate
clearly that these continual breaches will not go unacknowledged in future.
It is my hope and the hope of all sensible people that today will continue to
pass without any trouble."