Taking ‘the high ground?’

Belfast Mayor, Jim Rodgers, has suggested that the Pride of the Raven flute band ‘take the high ground’ and withdraw their controversial application to hold a protest parade against Alliance MLA, Anna Lo. The “very respectable” [Mr. Rodgers’ words] Pride of the Raven Band had initially applied to march through Donegall Pass, a decision which prompted outrage due to suspicions that the route of the parade was deliberately selected to intimidate chinese people residing and working in the area- a belief which the Parades Commission obviously shared to some degree, given that they have banned the parade from taking that route during next Saturday’s proposed parade.

  • cut the bull

    I believe Jim Rodgers is being very disingenuous and very economical with the truth on this issue as he knows that this band has along history of sectarian behaviour.
    The band on its web site http://theravenfb.com/ that this protest march is about Anna Lo being given the home address of the band secretary, but I think more importantly it goes on to state,
    In view of this and the recent Black Institution determination with regard to the Last Saturday in August and indeed the numerous injustices that have been visited upon Ballymacarrett, L.O.L. No.6 District, this band feels so incensed that personal details are being made public, that we will be conducting a protest parade, to take place at 10.30 am on Saturday 24th November 2007 into the Parades Commission Offices at Bedford Street. The parade will start and finish at Ballymacarrett Orange Hall, Albertbridge Road.
    This parade is clearly aimed at the Parades Commission’s determination on parades in which this band has participated and the band don’t seem to be to happy about it.
    This goes back to determination made by the Parades commission on a Black Preceptory parade on the 26th August 2006, when the commission stated that no music bar a single drumbeat was to be played passing St Matthews Chapel because of the behaviour of bands which included the Pride of the Raven at the corresponding parade the year before.
    The bands after having been warned by the PSNi that a funeral was proceeding past the parade on the opposite side of the road and that Mass was being celebrated in St Matthews Chapel, proceeded to play a mixture of tunes, the Sash, No Pope in Rome and Here lays a soldier of the UVF.
    Jim in his capacity as a member of Ballymacarrett District No6 LOL has participated in parades where this band has been involved in sectarian behaviour on the Lower Albertbridge Rd and outside St Matthews Chapel and while passing the Short Strand at the bottom of the Newtownards Rd.
    The case for selective deafness and blindness is now and truly over.
    It seems reasonable enough if you you are a member of the Chinese community living or working in Donegall pass or a city centre trader, but I believe there is an equality issue here. Why should the community in the Short Strand have to endure this protest march.
    As the determination stands this band will pass St Matthews Chapel on both the outward and return journey of this parade.
    Is the Parades commission making a difference between the Short Strand community who will be affected by this parade and other communities who are not affected by this parade as a result of the Parades Commission determination.
    Do the Parades Commission not take into account the rights of the Short Strand community in relation to sectarian intimidation element of this parade. Are the good people of the Short Strand community expected to put up with a parade that others have been spared from?
    Have the Parades Commission created a hierarchy of rights.
    Is it a case of Racism stinks but Sectarianism a bit more bearable?
    Racism,Sectarianism much the same the only difference is in the spelling.

  • flaminglip

    Yeah I noticed his use of the phrase to “take the high ground as well.” Very strange, basically saying they’ve got some moral high ground over the Chinese etc, and that holding a march would compromise this? Maybe I’m reading into it wrong.

  • Dawkins

    I heard Jim Rodgers being interviewed on TalkBack yesterday. What astonished me was that the Lord Mayor of Belfast was so ignorant of the band’s reputation for creating sectarian tension. He must have been out of the country when the boys were doing what they do best.

    Is it permitted here on Slugger to call him a liar?

  • cut the bull


    If there is any complaint you could just describe him as a complete stranger to the truth.

  • David Ford


    For the record, Alliance, both in a written submission and at a meeting with the Parades Commission, stated concerns about the parade passing St Matthew’s and close to St Malachy’s in Alfred Street, as well as through the City Centre on a major shopping Saturday and along Donegall Pass.

    We also stated that we were not objecting to parades in general in Donegall Pass.

    I regard racism and sectarianism as two sides of the one coin.

  • dodrade

    Surely their complaint is against the Police in this matter, or do they fear Anna Lo will set the Triads on them?

  • Máirseáil Uí Néill

    I see Sinn Féin in the area have come out with their position on this matter.


    and here also


    I see Máirtín Ó Muilleoir is also discussing it on his blog


  • cut the bull

    Fair play to the Alliance party in raising the concerns about the parade passing St Matthew’s and close to St Malachy’s in Alfred Street, as well as through the City Centre on a major shopping Saturday and along Donegall Pass.

    I believe there is an outstanding equality issue here in relation to the Parades Commission and its determination on this parade.

    I believe the Parades Commission has been selective in its treatment of communities in this determination has created a a hierarchy of rights with this determination.

  • Máirseáil Uí Néill

    It would certainly be a first for the Alliance to express concerns about the many breach’s of determinations when passing St Matthews, but welcome nonetheless

    is fearr mall na go brágh

    better late than never

  • cut the bull

    Fair play to Sinn Féin for raising concerns in relation to the shambolic Parades Commission determination on this parade.

    Hopefully this Commission may now start to take notice that this community does exist and does have rights and even more surprisingly does expect to be treated like all other communities.

    Glad to see both Siinn Feeeéin and the Alliance recognising this.

  • Nevin

    Shambolic Parades Commission? Also, it seems the Alliance Party may have had little to say about Eire Nua RFB and all that it represents. There appear to have been no objections lodged against this parade on 25th November.

  • Máirseáil Uí Néill

    Probably because the people in that particular community didn’t object to that particular parade.

  • Nevin

    Take a look at this, Máirseáil Uí Néill

    “The theme for the march from Beechmount Avenue was taken from the now immortalised words of hunger striker Bobby Sands who said, “Our revenge will be the laughter of our children.” Reflecting the spirit of the hunger strikers’ words, dozens of children, some as young as four years old, took part in the commemorative march carrying placards in honour of each of the twelve hunger strikers.

    The Felons Pipers and Eire Nua flute band added to the carnival atmosphere, as did the tunes of well-known republican songs such as ‘H Block’ sung by Derry councillor Francie Brolly on stage.

    There was a serious message however as Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly took to the stage and spoke passionately about previous sacrifices and the continued struggle against present accusations of crimalisation levelled against republicans.” Ireland Click May 17, 2005

    You’d think that the Parades Commission, the Alliance Party and the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People might have had some reservations about the promotion of paramilitarism.

  • cut the bull


    shambolic Parades Commission determination on this parade.

    Can you not see that the Parades Commission have gut the size of this parade for the benefit of the City centre traders.

    It’s determination also prohibited the parade from entering Donegall Pass as there was a feeling that it would intimidate the Chinese community in and around Donegall Pass.

    There were also concerns raised about this parade by community workers from Donegall pass.

    Taking all this into account why did the Parades Commission aloow this parade to pass StMatthews Chapel and the Short Strand on both it’s outward and return journey.
    This is why I believe the determination to be a shambles. The Commission has created a hierarchy of rights and been very selective in it’s treatment of the communities affected by this parade.

  • Nevin

    Don’t you have a problem with (loyalist and republican) parades promoting paramilitarism, ctb? Are you not surprised at the silence of those I’ve named?

  • cut the bull

    I believe paramilitary parades are quickly becoming remnants of a bygone era.

    But you seem to be missing the point I am making in relation to the Parades commission making a difference between the communities who are affected in a negative Sectarian and racist way by this parade.

    The Parades Commission I believe should not be acting in such a selective manner. It seems that the Commission ius sending out a message that it will deal with complaints about the racist aspect of this protest march but will the sectarian aspect of the the march and the Short Strand community which it affects ,under the carpet.

    Given that this band has a long orevious history of sectarian behaviour while passing both StMatthews Chapel and the Short Strand.

    I await the response from politicians to the Parades Commission on this issue

  • cut the bull

    Sorry should have read,

    The Parades Commission I believe should not be acting in such a selective manner. It seems that the Commission is sending out a message that it will deal with complaints about the racist aspect of this protest march but will allow the sectarian aspect of the march and the Short Strand community which it affects ,to be brushed under the carpet.

    Tiredness is getting to me

  • qubol

    Nevin your comments are completely beside the point here. The Republican parade, whether you like it or not was not something that the local community objected to. I think your going to have to learn that there are large parts of our community in Ireland that don’t subscribe to your world view. Beating them over the head with condemnation from irrelevant quangos or politicians won’t change that. As abhorant as I find Loyalist parades, if they want to march up and down the Shankill rd, I couldn’t care less. The problem arises when these pseudo-militaristic parades are forced upon neighbourhoods in an effort to intimidate them.

  • justice for all please

    The message is gradually seeping through that all contentious marches need to be re-routed.

  • Nevin

    “I believe paramilitary parades are quickly becoming remnants of a bygone era.”

    It’s my impression that bands with paramilitary iconography are in the ascendant compared with those that haven’t such links. NICCY has promised to investigate their malignant presence in internet social networks such as Bebo.

    It appears that my view is an isolated one on Slugger but it’s one I think needs to be made. A demonstration of paramilitarism on ‘their own patch’ IMO is or should be considered very contentious. Those who don’t have a problem with it are essentially condoning our version of apartheid where the paramilitary godfathers determine who lives in or passes through ‘their patch’.

    These paramilitary parades are held in the Kingdom of Moyle, sometimes with PC consent, sometimes with no consent sought. AFAIK there’s been PSNI alongside PC acquiescence. You can appreciate that Joe and Josey Public will be reluctant to raise any objections, especially if they wish to continue to remain as residents.

  • Martin Luther

    a parade of hate, led by and suppoted by neanderthals…

    If alcohol was banned would any of their 13yr olds turn up!

    Power…. white power to the raven…!!!!!!

  • cut the bull

    As i have stated before this band has a long history of sectarian behaviour in 2004 the band threatened the parades commission with legal action, which never happened because the commission had warned the band not to play the sash as it passed St Matthews Chapel.

    See the Community relations council report,


    Yet this is the same band that the Lord Mayor Jim Rodgers speaks of when he says,

    “The Parades Commission has been a big disappointment to the Pride of the Raven band. They are very respectable and have been in business for many many years,” he said.

    “I don’t think for one moment they were trying to cause offence.” Jim catch yourself on.

    I would agree that the parades commission has indeed been a big dissapointment in relation to this band. In the parades commission Code of Conduct it states

    Guidance for Anyone Participating in Parades,

    Guidance for Anyone Participating in Parades in the Vicinity of Sensitive Locations

    A Places of Worship

    Only hymn tunes should be played.
    When church services are taking place, no music should be played.
    There should be no irreverent behaviour.
    Marching should be dignified.

    C Where the Majority Population of the Vicinity are of a Different Tradition, and in Interface Areas.

    Behaviour should be respectful.
    There should be no excessively loud drumming.
    Participants should refrain from conduct, words, music or behaviour which could reasonably be perceived as intentionally sectarian, provocative, threatening, abusive, insulting or lewd.
    Marching should be dignified.

    This is often included in determinations in relation to parades that this particular has participated in, yet at almost every parade this band plays tunes such as No Pope in Rome, the Sash and Here lays a soldier of the UVF.

    Yrt the Parades Commission has yet to take any sanction against this band for repeatedly breaching the commissions Code of Conduct and many of its determinations.

  • Cut the bull

    If you can not access the web site it this is the article.

    A loyalist flute band announced that it was considering legal action over the Parades Commission ban on playing The Sash while passing a Catholic church in east Belfast. The Pride of the Raven Flute Band said that it was considering challenging restrictions on playing music while passing St Matthews Church on the Newtownards Road.

  • June 76


    Would you include ALL Orange Order marches among those that promote paramilitarism, albeit paramilitaries from another age. Sword carrying, sash wearing, military style bands in military style uniforms – and am I right is saying that up until the 1920’s, the OO openly carried firearms on their marches.

  • wayne

    The fecking cheek of some people is staggering, if you want i can plaster this board with links to videos etc.. of republican marchers wearing the most over the top para style garb you have ever seen, in no way could you compare the 2, chalk & cheese.

  • Alex S

    Once again loyalists are marching into a brick wall, woll they ever learn?

  • Dawkins


    “A demonstration of paramilitarism on ‘their own patch’ IMO is or should be considered very contentious. Those who don’t have a problem with it are essentially condoning our version of apartheid where the paramilitary godfathers determine who lives in or passes through ‘their patch’.”

    With you all the way on this one, Nevin. If one wishes for bitterness and sectarian hatred to continue for generations to come, then one should by all means expose one’s children to such paramilitaristic displays.

  • cut the bull

    I believe a major problem in the whole marching/parading issue is that to a large extent sectarianism is so ingrained within this society/state that it has actually become the norm.

    When faced with a band that has a history of sectarian behaviour wanting to parade, the sectarianism seems to be over looked, but when there is a feeling that the same band may be introducing a racist element to its protest parade, there are people lining up to complain.

    Sectarianism has not only become the norm but it has besome institutionalised and there is a tacit acceptance of it among public authourities,the PSNI, criminal justice system and the media.

    This is the reason why I believe there has been an abject failure on behalf of the Parades Commission, PSNI and the PPS to deal with bands like this.

    As I have stated before SECTARIANISM=RACISM the only difference is in the spelling.

  • Outsider

    Are all parades prohibited from entering Chinese areas?

    I presume Anna Lo will be as outspoken with the next ‘artistic display’ from Republicans in Belfast.

  • willis


    Have you any idea what this dispute is about?

    If so please explain, because it looks like you have enthusiastically grabbed the wrong end of the stick.

    The questions are:

    “Should Strandtown Police have sent an address to Anna Lo?”

    “Does the fact that Anna Lo knows your address mean that your life is in danger?”

    “Is Jim Rogers short of votes?”

  • Tarzaf

    sectarian loyalist kick the pope bands would have no purpose if they couldn`t walk the Queens highway through or past ares that don`t want them.
    Just like their NF/BNP counterparts, lock stock and smoking barrel.

    All paramiltary marches and displayes should be banned but lets not forget, Kick the pope bands are the obnly ones allowed and who want to anfd who think its their *god& given right to march through croppy areas.

  • Outsider


    My question is simple are Loyalist parades prohibited from going by houses or areas occupied by the Chinese community?

  • willis

    Well they have been doing it for the past 30 years so I would imagine the answer is:


    I’m assuming you are going to develop this argument in some way.

  • Outsider

    No you have answered my question and I thank you for that.

  • Prince Eoghan

    Is Outsiders point? any more sophisticated than nevin’s strawman whataboutery?

    Are those Republicans intent on going through areas they are not wanted, and for the specific purpose of intimidating an isolated section of society, don’t think so! Perhaps this is Unionism’s secret shame, or is it only Nationalist shame that seems to be wished for and or invented in these parts?

  • willis

    If only the Pride of the Raven were as gracious!

  • Stiofán de Buit

    Since the Orange Order are a religious organisation, perhaps one of their members can explain why so many of the bands that accompany them seem to play so many obviously secular (never mind sectarian) tunes. You would think that they’d be ecouraging the likes of Pride of the raven to play “Abide With Me” or something similar. It would be much less offensive than “Here Lies A *hem, hem* Soldier *hem, hem* of the UVF” and the like.

    And why is it always the flute bands that cause the problems? I remember many a march back in Ards when I was a wee lad and the siver bands and kilties were always quite dignified – although to this day the sight of a swinging sporran still gives me the willies. It was always the flute bands that were full of twats.

  • Outsider

    Stiofán de Buit

    This isn’t an Orange parade.

    Secondly the Order is about culture as well as religion and many bands play non religious hymns. For example the theme tune to the Great Escape has become quite popular at loyalist parades as of late.

  • willis

    What exactly is a “non religious hymn”?

  • Outsider

    Sorry my mistake I meant to write non religious songs.

  • willis

    Maybe you were thinking of this….


  • willis

    Track 8 seems appropriate.

  • Stiofán de Buit


    I know this isn’t an Orange parade – my question was about Orange Parades in general. The tunes, and general behaviour, of many of these ‘kick the pope bands’ just seems so unsuitable for a ‘religious organisation’ like the Orange Order.

  • Turgon

    Stiofan de Buit,
    I would agree that some bands play predominantly secular music. As has been pointed out the bands and orange lodges are actually different organisations.

    In the case of our band we play (not that well) about twenty or more tunes. Apart from the sash, orange and blue, the Leaving of Liverpool and Men of Harlech they are all religious. This would be typical of most country bands.

  • Dawkins

    Stiofán de Buit,

    “…to this day the sight of a swinging sporran still gives me the willies. It was always the flute bands that were full of twats.”

    LOL. If I were a collector of double entendres I’d be ecstatic over those lines.

  • Stiofán de Buit


    I realise they bands and lodges are separate, but my understanding is that the Lodges are responsible for inviting the bands to take part in the parade – you’ll correct me if I’m wrong on that.

    If so, I just have to wonder why Lodges invite these ‘kick the pope’ bands to take part. They do nothing to help parades be less provocative – quite the reverse, and they’re certainly not in keeping with the Orange Order’s religious nature.

    I’m in a rather unusual position here – I’m from a Protestant background, bit I consider myself to be a Republican. I’d love us to be able to reach a situation where Orange Order parades, which are, to me, a part of Irish culture, could be enjoyed by everyone, but that’s never going to happen while these ‘kick the pope’ bands are involved.

    Of course, I’m sure your band’s nothing like that Turgon. Out of interest, what type of band is it? Please tell me you’re not a kiltie!! 🙂

  • willis

    Clearly they need to move beyond “Kick the Pope” to “Engage Ultimate Ecclesiastical Authorities in meaningful dialogue”


    Can you advise?

  • dewi

    What is astonishing is the number of parades – like four thousand a year. That’s about 1 per year per 45 people. To reduce tension why not reduce the number of parades allowed ? And instead have competions in Windsor Park or other appropriate location..

  • cut the bull


    “Is Jim Rogers short of votes?”

    I think Jim Rodgers needs to be careful if he believes his involvement in the issue of disputed contentious parades will earn him any votes.

    I seem to remeber there used an Ulster Unionist MLA now an ex MLA, I think his name was Michael Copeland he took a real interest in and fully supported the disputed contentious parades while the DUP shewrdly manouvered around it.

    Mick lost his seat in the assembly, judging on this experience it seems a number of the unionist electorate are weary of these parades aswell.

  • cut the bull


    “It should start of a nice bright clear day,but around 10 o’clock in the morning there will a severe depression as dark clouds will be making an appearance and spreading in from the east making their way into Belfast City Centre.

    This extreme miserable and dull weather consisting of the dark clouds shall persist to hang about the city centre for a period of time, but you can be assured that it will start to decline as it hastily moves back towards the east promptly at noon.

    Hopefully this will be the last of this weather for this year, but I hope like me you will all be hoping for severe blustery gales with heavy rain and hailstones the size of potatoes between 10am and noon just to keep the dark clouds company”

  • turgon

    Stiofan de Buit,
    I think that is correct that the lodges invite the bands. You should ask an orangeman like Darth for the full explanation (I am not an orangeman). In pratical terms our band always seems to be asked by our local lodge to lead it.

    We are a moderately competent hymn tune accordian band by the way. Although I am not a fan of “kick the pope” bands I always thought for surrealness value it would be interesting to have a sinister looking “kick the pope” accordian band.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Turgon: “We are a moderately competent hymn tune accordian band by the way. Although I am not a fan of “kick the pope” bands I always thought for surrealness value it would be interesting to have a sinister looking “kick the pope” accordian band. ”

    Gee, thanks, Turgon… mental image 578 I need to scrub from my mind… and this one comes with a soundtrack…