Royal visit to controversial Belfast church sparks protest
Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles have visited the controversial St Patrick’s Church in Belfast, during their four-day visit to Ireland, while a small group protested outside.
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall visited the Church as a part of its 200th anniversary celebrations.
This year thirteen members of a loyalist flute band were convicted of provocatively playing a sectarian tune as they marched outside St Patrick’s.
Various dignitaries including Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness greeted the Royal couple, who were then shown around the church by Fr Michael Sheehan.
Their visit was not well received by all however, as a small group staged a protest outside St Patrick’s. Included in the group were Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly, relatives of the 1971 bombing at McGurk’s Bar in Belfast and also relatives of the Ballymurphy Massacre, which occurred in west Belfast between 9th – 11th August 1971.
Fifteen Catholics were murdered in the bomb attack at McGurk’s bar at the hands of the loyalist paramilitary group, the Ulster Volunteer Force and ten people were shot dead by paratroopers at Ballymurphy.
The significance of the paratroopers’ involvement for protesters is due to Prince Charles’ role as Colonel-in-Chief of the Parachute Regiment, the same regiment who opened fire on unarmed civilians in Derry on Bloody Sunday, killing fourteen people.