A Loyalist band member deliberately urinated in a Catholic church grounds during the massive Orange parade at the weekend in Belfast. The march was held to commemorate the signing of the Ulster Covenant in 1912 to keep Northern Ireland part of Britain.
Monday’s Irish News newspaper carried a picture of the man, with drumsticks urinating in the grounds of St Matthew’s Parish church in a small Catholic area which stirred angry responses.
The Orange Order Grand Chaplain Reverend Mervyn Gibson has visited St Matthew’s Church to apologise and said the incident ‘was outrageous and unacceptable’.
Speaking on BBC Radio Reverend Gibson ‘apologised unreservedly to the priest and parishioners of St Matthew’s’ and said the Orange Order ‘will be looking at this seriously’.
Sinn Féin Councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile welcomed the apology from the chaplain and Orange Order Grand Secretary Drew Nelson.
“Too many times in the past when sectarian behaviour has been caught on camera the Orange apologises but do nothing to prevent further breaches in the future. The Orange Lodges book these bands and put them on parade,” said the former Lord Mayor of Belfast.
“The Parades Commission also need to reflect on the behaviour of the bands outside St Matthews in future when they make determinations,” added the councillor.
“I hope that the Orange Order will now acknowledge that the nationalist experience of these parades has been anything but positive. The sort of sectarian and offensive behaviour we witnessed on Saturday is the norm when parades pass St Matthews.”
“The Orange Order has spoken much about respect in the course of the past few weeks. There was very little respect for the residents of the Short Strand on display on Saturday.
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.
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson called on the Orange Order to apologise for the presence of Fascist MEP Nick Griffin of the British National Party.
DUP councillor and Orangeman, Christopher Stalford said the “values the BNP represent are the antithesis of unionist values”.
However, Traditional Unionist Voice MLA Jim Allister said that the Orange Order ‘did Ulster proud on Saturday’.
“The fantastic turnout for the Centenary parade was not only a great feat of organisation, but a marvellous tribute to our Covenant forefathers and timely reminder of the strength of Unionism when it stands determined to resist that which is destructive of our British citizenship”.