Whilst the parades that passed St Patrick’s Church in Belfast yesterday, Saturday 31 August 2013, were peaceful, it was disappointing and disheartening that the Royal Black Preceptory consider that the playing of the “Sash” as they march past residents of Carrick Hill and through this community of St Patrick’s was respectful.
The playing of loud music as they pass in front of St Patrick’s Church during divine worship is definitely not respectful. It is not conducive to the building of respect, trust and confidence between the communities of this city. It does not win the respect or trust of the congregation of this church. This particular breach of codes of practice is beyond comprehension.
It is difficult not to interpret such actions on the part of the Loyal Orders as a failure at any real attempt to resolve the issues around the contentious parades as they pass St Patrick’s Church and its community.
This failure is made worse by continual and persistent breaches of the determinations of the Parades Commission in relation to Church services.
I would like to hope that the Loyal Orders would address the serious issues of respect through dialogue and strive to reduce tension in areas of the city rather than inflame them by such displays of disrespect for the rule of law and good civic relations between citizens, organisations and communities.
It is to be regretted that the PSNI allowed the procession of the parade and bands to pass the Church during the celebration of the Eucharist from 7pm to 7.45pm, although the PSNI may have presumed that no music would have been played in accordance with the determination. In light of this breach of the template of some Loyal Orders and the Parades Commission determination, I believe that the PSNI should in future ensure that any further parades would wait until the Celebration of the Eucharist has ended.
Fr Michael Sheehan Adm.
Media contact: Fr Edward McGee Tel. 078111 44268