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‘No offence’ – in Northern Ireland…

Thirteen members of a Loyalist marching band, the Young Conway Volunteers, have had their criminal convictions for ‘doing a provocative act likely to cause public disorder or a breach of the peacequashed after the Public Prosecutor agreed not to oppose their appeals.

The non-offence occurred after the marching band found themselves marching in a circle outside St Patrick’s Church (Catholic) in north Belfast, whilst playing (allegedly aggravated by hostility) a tune alleged to have been ‘the Famine Song’ with the presumably catchy refrain ‘The famine’s over, why don’t you go home?‘, but what they said was the Beach Boys ‘Sloop John B‘ (reportedly an easy mistake to make, the basic tune is widely used). How this was proved at the original trial when they presumably were playing a tune on instruments and not singing was not made clear.

Although now acquitted, the band members agreed to be bound over to keep the peace for 2 years (not a conviction but a promise of good behaviour, breach of which could lead to a 7 day jail term).

Whilst this acquittal in the face of ‘hate legislation’ is certainly a good thing for liberty, I note the apologetic tone of the response of the Orange Lodge, which presumably has some connection to the band:

In a statement, The County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast welcomed the successful appeal.

“We are glad that justice has finally been achieved for these band members who had been wrongly vilified by the media and nationalism,” it said.
“There never was an intent to cause offence.”

One might ask what on Earth were they marching for if not to ‘cause offence‘ (in the subjective sense) on 12th July by their celebration of the lifting of the siege of Londonderry? To say that there was ‘no intent to cause offence‘ appears to concede that offence was caused, rather than taken or even perhaps rejoiced in as an opportunity to throw the legal machinery of the State at the band.

Why not say that this legislation is oppressive, tyrannical and makes the law itself a politicised weapon, a sword, not a shield?

To me as an Englishman, the whole shebang seems utterly alien, the intolerance and fanaticism on both poles of the Ulster divide mark them as having more in common with each other than with insipid, fundamentally apolitical England. Whether or not that is a good thing for Northern Ireland, or for England, may in the long run be another matter.

10 comments to ‘No offence’ – in Northern Ireland…

  • Patrick Crozier

    To be pedantic 12th July celebrations are to do with the Battle of the Boyne not the lifting of the Siege of Derry which I believe is sometime in November.

    You are right about offence being “taken”. Republicans take offence at the Ulster British breathing so it’s no surprise they would take offence at them playing flutes.

    On a more important point, I wonder if the English would be quite so phlegmatic if a large proportion of their neighbours were intent on killing them. We may live to find out.

  • Mr Ed

    Patrick, you are quite right, the lifting of the Siege of Londonderry is the Apprentice Boys’ day out, the Boyne is the celebration of the Pope’s chosen side winning 🙂

  • Patrick Crozier

    I looked it up. The lifting of the Siege of Derry was in August. Of course, it was. A parade to commemorate it was the flashpoint that started the Troubles.

  • Russtovich

    Good lord people, get with the program.

    ANY tune is inherently offensive. To whit:


    Ironically this makes us more like the Taliban or ISIS (DAESH) ever bloody day.

  • The non-offence occurred after the marching band found themselves marching in a circle outside St Patrick’s Church (Catholic) in north Belfast,

    Technically, I don’t think they “found themselves” there. 😉

    Seriously, I remember going back 15 years to the Catholic jubilee year of 2000 when women were protesting the Catholic Church in Rome by marching past churches and being deliberately offensive, which of course was treated as perfectly normal behavior by the bien pensants, and how dare the Catholics be irritated. But when the Orange Order during its annual strolling season decided to walk past Catholic churches and be deliberately offensive, the same bien pensants were shocked — how dare anybody offend the Catholics like that, and of course they should be angry.

    The impression I got is that the Orange Order should have gone down the Garvaghy Road dressed in drag, chanting, “Keep your rosaries off our ovaries!”

  • The vile hate-free-speech laws should be returned whence they came; one may hope.

    If there were a service in the church when the band were circling, it might be that in the old days they could be charged with some noise offence; free speech does not give Jeremy Corbyn the right to shout about the wonders of socialism underneath my bedroom window at 2am. But of course that would require showing that the band’s provision of free (and apparently unwanted by the complainers) music was interfering with the complainers freedom to hold a service, and both sides of that equation are anathema to our PC overlords: they must be free to interfere with our activities and we must not be free to say what we think.

  • Paul Marks

    Patrick – what “started the troubles” was the IRA, via their control of the “Civil Rights” movement in Northern Ireland in the late 1960s. Or course one is not allowed to say that the “Civil Rights” movement in the late 1960s was manipulated by the IRA – any more than one is allowed to say who really controlled the American Civil Rights movement by the same period (clue the Black Panthers and all the white Marxists could not give a toss about Jim Crow laws in the South).

    Mr Ed.

    I agree with you that sectarianism is an evil – a terrible evil.

    Nut do not be so quick to reject “fanaticism”.

    After all where do you think the defenders of Freedom of Speech as a PRINCOPLE come from?

    Certainly not from modern “English” culture – which does not believe that any principle is worth dying for.

    The people who supported Freedom of Speech (and all the other basic principles) have a lot more in common with Ulstermen then they had with modern “Englishmen” – at least (I say again) of the modern sort.

    “I am in the right on this matter – and I will not move an inch, even if it means my death. Although I will do my best to send you to your death first”.

    Hardly modern English culture.

    And without such a culture such things as Freedom of Speech can not stand.


    For “Ulstermen” – read “people from Eastern Tennessee”.

    Specifically the First and Second Congressional Districts – but parts of the Third Congressional District also.

  • Paul Marks

    That should read “but” not “nut” – the text is so small with “Windows Ten” that I can barely see it.

    My pretence that my eyes are not failing……

  • Laird

    Paul, I have Windows 10, too. You can increase the size of the display by right-clicking on the home screen and changing the display settings. I use 125% as my default setting.

  • Paul Marks

    Alas Laird – you might as well be writing in Ancient Greek – such is my ignorance, but I will have a go.