6 September 2012
Loyal order says sorry for sectarianism paraded at St Patrick's Catholic Church
UUP leader's 'hope for something better' at Ulster Covenant Centenary Parade on 29th
'We apologise for any offence to the clergy and parishioners of St Patrick’s Church'
THE Royal Black Institution loyal order has issued a public apology for the playing outside St Patrick’s Catholic Church in Belfast of the anti-Catholic Famine Song and other sectarian tunes by unionist bands on 25 August.
Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt MLA applauded the Royal Black Institution “for demonstrating a much-needed spirit of generosity in their statement of apology to St Patrick's Church on Donegall Street and the equally open manner in which it has been received”.
Nesbitt (right) said the Royal Black Institution’s “Christian generosity . . . creates the space for politicians to offer hope of something better” ahead of the Ulster Covenant Centenary Parade on 29 September, which will attract 20,000 unionist marchers and 100 bands.
“The timeline is tight, given the plans for the 29th of the month but, if the will is there, much can be achieved. The Ulster Unionist Party will not be found wanting.”
In the apology, the Royal Black Institution reiterates its opposition to the Parades Commission (“an unelected quango”) and calls for it to be replaced “within a democratic framework where decisions will be held accountable to the people”.
It hopes to meet new Secretary of State Theresa Villiers to argue its case and the leaders of the three unionist parties in the Assembly “to enlist their support in bringing about the demise of the Parades Commission”, adding:
“Parading is embedded in the DNA of the Protestant community but the Parades Commission has shown an appalling lack of understanding about what that means.
“They consistently pander to the demands of people who have gone out of their way to be offended and whose aim is to remove all traces of the Reformed Christian Faith and cleanse Protestant culture from society.”
The Young Conway Volunteers band from the Shankill Road provoked widespread anger on Saturday 25 August with a flagrantly sectarian display on the doorstep of St Patrick’s Church during the Royal Black’s ‘Last Saturday’ parade.
In what has been described as an unprecedented move by a loyal order, the Royal Black says in an open letter signed by Sovereign Grand Master Millar Farr (right) and Grand Registrar William Scott:
“The City of Belfast Grand Black Chapter had never previously held its Last Saturday demonstration in the city. This was a special parade to mark the centenary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant. Each year, their Last Saturday parade is held outside Belfast and that arrangement will resume next year, as planned.
“Through its stand for the Reformed Christian Faith, the Royal Black Institution has doctrinal differences with the Roman Catholic Church but we want to make it absolutely clear that the anger of the Royal Black Institution is not directed at St Patrick’s Church. We apologise for any offence to the clergy and parishioners of St Patrick’s Church.
“We have always had good lines of communication with the Roman Catholic Church and we would intend to continue to maintain and consolidate these, away from the public gaze.”
Premium Online Service For Only €10 Per Year
For less than €1 a month, you get An Phoblacht’s Premium Online Service. Sign up today!
- Full access to all An Phoblacht articles
- Interactive online PDF Booklet of each edition
- Access to our historic Archives
- Discounts for the Online Sinn Féin Shop