An Ardoyne residents group has hit out at a Parades Commission decision to allow a loyalist band, self-labelled as ‘Ulster’s Number 1 Blood and Thunder band’, to march past the area on Easter Monday.
CARA (Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association) said the decision to allow the Shankill Protestant Boys Flute Band to take part in the Apprentice Boys march represented a worrying change from previous determinations.
They also hit out at the Parades Commission decision to allow the band to play sacred music as it travels past Ardoyne shops. In previous years, bands have been restricted to playing a single drumbeat.
Liam McCafferty, a CARA representative, said: “We went to the Parades Commission last Wednesday [April 9] to make a submission. We reminded the commission that this band – the Shankill Protestant Boys Flute Band – have been problematic in the past and are controversial. They describe themselves on their website as one the biggest ‘blood and thunder’ band in Northern Ireland. So our issue is that this very large band will be travelling past Ardoyne, and are allowed to play music.
“This is the first determination we’ve had from the new members of the Parades Commission and, with it flying in the face of previous determinations, we are very concerned ahead of the summer.”
At the start of this year, the five new members of the Parades Commission were appointed. Mr McCafferty said there are now fears that parades travelling past Ardoyne in the coming months will not be as restricted as in previous years. He added that this march – by the Ligoniel Walker Club – was usually uncontroversial and that CARA were surprised that they had decided to ask this band to perform.
“Usually the Easter Monday Apprentice Boys march doesn’t cause any trouble,” he said. “Generally the Apprentice Boys events are respectful. But to bring this band, a very controversial band for residents, up to Ardoyne just feels like a slap in the face. Given that there is no agreements between residents and parade organisers, it seems a bit rich that they would turn around and bring one of the biggest ‘blood and thunder’ bands in the north up for the parade.
“Now our worry is that this will set the tone for the rest of the year.
“With new members appointed to the Parades Commission, it’s our belief that the parade organisers wanted to test the water.
“It has undone previous determinations by the Parades Commission and it has reversed goodwill that had been built up within the residents.
“Overall it’s very worrying. We hope that the Parades Commission will not row back on previous decisions.”