Wednesday 28 September 2016

Prince Charles gives €2,700 donation to Catholic church at centre of marching disputes in Belfast

Michael McHugh

Published 28/12/2015 | 16:40

An incident outside St Patrick's Church in Belfast is being investigated
An incident outside St Patrick's Church in Belfast is being investigated
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MAY 21: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales meets Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness during a visit to St Patricks Church on May 21. 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will attend a series of engagements in Northern Ireland following their visit in the Republic of Ireland. (Photo by Adam Gerrard - WPA Pool /Getty Images)

The Prince of Wales has donated £2,000 (€2,700) to a Catholic Church at the centre of bitter marching disputes involving Protestant loyal orders in Northern Ireland.

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Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, toured the historic Belfast place of worship in May in a gesture of reconciliation.

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales meets Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness during a visit to St Patricks Church on May 21 in Belfast, Northern Ireland
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales meets Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness during a visit to St Patricks Church on May 21 in Belfast, Northern Ireland

St Patrick's Church has witnessed disorder and discord in recent years, with some parading loyalist bandsmen accused of provocative and sectarian behaviour while passing by. The money is expected to be used for renovation work.

A total of 13 members of one loyalist band have been convicted of playing a sectarian tune while marching in a circle on Donegall Street outside St Patrick's in 2012.

The bandsmen, accompanying parading Orangemen, were found guilty of playing the Famine Song, which is played to the same tune as the Beach Boys' Sloop John B but with anti-Catholic lyrics.

It marked the first of a series of flashpoint incidents at the church. Weeks later, disorder broke out after another parading controversy.

Police officers attempt to stop fighting between loyalist and nationalist groups outside outside St Patrick's Roman Catholic Church in Belfast (AP)
Police officers attempt to stop fighting between loyalist and nationalist groups outside outside St Patrick's Roman Catholic Church in Belfast (AP)

In subsequent summers, restrictions have been placed on loyal order parades passing the church, with residents from nearby nationalist neighbourhoods staging protests against the loyal orders and loyalist bands.

Loyal orders claim their lawful right to parade has been restricted and have insisted they have offered concessions in regard to limiting band music to hymns.

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