A victory…. for tolerance and respect

Cormeen Rising Sons of William press release following the success of their 8th annual band procession, this year held in Armagh City:-

The Cormeen Rising Sons of William Flute Band sincerely thank all those who contributed to making their St Patrick’s evening band procession in Armagh a success. Despite certain groups attempting to ratchet up tensions the evening passed off peacefully and a great display of music and colour was enjoyed by all.

The event started shortly after half past 7, stopping well before the 10.30pm finish time stipulated by the Parades Commission. In all 43 bands participated, with excellent crowds lining the procession route. In terms of active participants, the musicians, the evening actually surpassed the Dublin celebrations!

There were a number of minor public order incidents, as would be expected every St Patrick’s Day, however the atmosphere within the City generally was very relaxed. Regretfully a hoax bomb intended to disrupt the band procession caused major disruption to the afternoon parade and to the City business community in what are difficult economic times. At all other times traffic moved freely with no significant disruption.

The band would very forcefully refute those who claim that the evening event was responsible for a negative effect on other festivities during the day. As planned, the evening parade took place over 3 hours after all other City Centre events had finished, with the sole disruption a direct result of those who have been making dire predictions and veiled threats of widescale public disorder.

The night has been a great triumph for tolerance and respect, and is a credit to the vast majority of the Nationalist community in the City. The majority of Irish Nationalists recognise the positive aspects of the Unionist community celebrating the life and legacy of Patrick, and appreciate the importance of ensuring that exclusion of cultural expression is no longer an acceptable way forward.

The band has already began planning for next years parade, scheduled for Saturday 16th March, and would appeal for all to come together well in advance to discuss and make use of the positive aspects of the evening for the City and local community. The way to ensure a shared future on this island is not via melding all our unique traditions into one large bland mass, but via respect and tolerance for each others very different approaches to cultural expression.

Unashamed Ulster Loyalist. Marching band activist and band member for over 25 years. Contributor for the Belfast Newsletter and currently studying History at QUB.