Carrick Hill residents in Belfast subjected to sectarian hatred from Loyalist parade


There was little ‘our time, our place’ for residents of Carrick Hill on the edge of Belfast city centre recently as they were subjected to a sectarian and provocative Loyalist band parade with the approval of the PSNI along a route that has been relatively ‘peaceful’ and ‘non-contentious’ for years. Despite a parades commission ruling banning the Shankill Road band Young Conway Volunteers from playing outside St Patrick’s catholic church after this incident on the 12th July in which they were deliberately playing sectarian songs such as the Famine outside the church. (See video

Hundreds of bandsmen in the Royal Black Institute organised parade along with supporters defied the ruling. Not for the first time right-wing unionist politicians and DUP Social development minister Nelson McCausland along with members of the PUP, so-called ‘progressive wing of loyalism’ played the Orange card appealing to the lowest common denominator by drumming up support for the parade. 

Over the weekend a loyalist mob organised by loyalist paramilitaries once again re-ignited sectarian tension by orchestrating an un-provoked and brutal assault on a small republican parade organised by the Republican Network for Unity in commemoration of Henry Joy McCracken for the second year running which was broadly confined within the 'nationalist' New Lodge. 

Two senoir Protestant clerics have also spoken out against behaviour on the parade outside the church describing it as 'blatantly sectarian.' Presbyterian moderator the Rev Roy Patton and Church of Ireland primate Archbishop Alan Harper described behaviour as 'totally unacceptable and is not keeping with the values that the loyal orders espouse.'(1)

Although I missed the early morning march in which scuffles broke out, the return march was marred by similar scenes as one loyalist supporter tried to take a banner from Carrick Hill residents asking to respect the local church. The policing operation was relatively successful in terms of there own logic of containment and repressing any dissent as one comrade remarked that is was an ‘acceptable form of violence.’ Meanwhile unionist dominated Lisburn City council has voted to give the Orange Order freedom of the borough while in a complete u-turn Sinn Fein MP Pat Doherty has lobbied for a loyalist band funding. He wrote to the Arts Council backing funding for Castlederg Young Loyalist Flute Band. The band's website includes sections on IRA atrocities, the controversial B Specials and lyrics to songs, including one glorifying UVF terrorist Brian Robinson who murdered a Catholic.

This possible new flashpoint exposes the myth of ‘normalisation’ as the reality of sectarianism and segregation is as raw as ever. Something which glossy tourism adverts such as ‘Our time our place’ and the smokescreen of ‘Orangefest’ cannot simply whitewash away. The Orange Order and similar organisations is a sectarian organisation, an enemy of all workers and needs to be treated as such.

It is essential that anarchists and anyone who considers themselves on the progressive left to actively oppose manifestations of sectarianism from any quarter and to not shy away from this reality. Until we do calls for ‘workers’ unity’ will continue to fall on deaf ears.

1) Irish News, p6 (Allison Morris)