Contentious route. No dialogue. Previous bad behaviour. Poor marshaling. Paramilitary uniforms. Paramilitary flags. Band named after a paramilitary member. Large numbers of young followers. Is this a Sinn Fein councillor trying to push ‘season of hate’ claims by describing a loyalist band parade? Nope, it is what happened at a Republican Easter Commemoration march in an interface area of north Belfast in April 2006.
The Greencastle Easter Commemoration Committee organised a parade in the Whitewell area of North Belfast which includes two small Protestant communities, Graymount and Whitecity.
The Parades Commission determination says:
About the area – “…this part of Belfast has seen much sectarian tension and division, and recognises that there continues to be a strain on community relations in this area.”
On dialogue – “In the present case the Commission is not aware of any meaningful engagement having taken place.”
Previous behaviour – “…there have been breaches of its Code of Conduct by those taking part previously in this parade”.
Marshaling – “…the organiser would appear to have taken no steps since the parade last year to ensure that those notified to marshal the parade have received any formal training.”
The Parades Commission determination ruled “no paramilitary-style clothing is to be worn at any time during a parade”. Yet parade participants wore black berets, combat trousers, combat boots and bomber jackets.
The Parades Commission Guidance states “Flags and other displays often have a legitimate historical significance, but in no circumstances should such items relating to a proscribed organisation be displayed”. There were two IRA flags displayed (You don’t need to be a Gaelgoir to work out what Oglaigh na hEireann Beal Feirste means nor its North Belfast equivalent).
One of the three participating bands was the Vol Sean McIlvenna Republican Flute Band (named after an IRA member killed in a gun battle with the RUC as he fled the scene of a bomb attack on the Army). They were barred from the 2005 parade for pro-IRA chanting at the 2004 parade, an example of which they kindly provide in their own video of the 2004 parade (Windows Media Player required).
Photographs from the Shankill Mirror.