Long: Peaceful Parade welcome but Breach must be investigated

Alliance MP Naomi Long has welcomed the peaceful passing of the Ulster Day parade in Belfast yesterday; however, she has condemned the apparent breach of a Parades Commission ruling, which saw a number of bands play tunes other than hymns while passing St Matthew’s Catholic church in East Belfast, and she has called on the police to investigate.

The Parades Commission had placed restrictions on what music bands could play while passing St Matthew’s Church in east Belfast. Police have said any breaches of the law will be fully investigated.

Naomi Long MP said: “The peaceful nature of the parades and protests in the City yesterday was welcome after what has been a very tense summer; however, it is very disappointing that certain bands decided to ignore the determination of the Parades Commission at St Matthew’s Church, choosing instead to play tunes other than hymns at this location.

“This is about the rule of law and about respect. Alliance has always recognised and supported freedom of assembly and the right to have parades, but those rights bring with them responsibilities to operate within the law. The Parades Commission is the legal body charged with making these determinations and those rulings must be upheld, whether they are welcomed or not, and the breaching of determinations must receive the same attention as any other breaking of the law.

“Whilst the bands may feel that in breaching determinations they are venting anger at the Parades Commission, they are both breaking the law, and are disrespecting not only the worshippers at that church, but those of all denominations and none who find such behaviour offensive and unacceptable.

“I think there is a general view that the playing of hymn tunes only at all churches would be a basic courtesy and, ideally, one which should be extended voluntarily by the Loyal Orders, without the need for any determination. This would be an act of generosity which would go a long way towards calming tensions around parading generally.”

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