A SINN Fein councillor says she is considering reporting a children’s Scout Parade in Enniskillen to the Parades Commission.
During Tuesday night’s Full Council meeting Debbie Coyle told colleagues that she was aware a confirmation, involving over 100 children, had been taking place at St. Michael’s Church in Enniskillen at the time that a band had been playing outside on the street.
Making it clear she was unaware of who the band was, or what organisation it was affiliated with, she said regardless, the Parades Commission’s Code of Conduct had been broken.
“You have to take into consideration any churches or any other places of worship and you are supposed to contact the relevant clergy 36 hours before,” she said.
“As this band was going passed St. Michael’s, it carried on playing and people at the back of the chapel - with over 100 children in attendance and not a spare seat in the place - couldn’t hear what was going on at the front.
“Which is disappointing - I still don’t know who is responsible.”
Ms. Coyle said she had searched the Parades Commission website for a determination but had found nothing in relation to a band or parade last Sunday.
“They have to comply with a code of conduct,” she said, “Who ever was marching on that day wasn’t complying with that code - it disturbed a Confirmation in St Michael’s.”
She turned her attention to a band parade which took place on Culture Night in Enniskillen last year.
Having previously commented that South Fermanagh Loyalist Flute Band’s parade was “not inclusive” and made people feel “unwelcome” the councillor said the same rules apply regardless of the organisation.
“A lot of people felt excluded last year. It would be a pity to see something happening again this year,” she added.
DUP Councillor Keith Elliott said the parade had involved “hundreds of children behind three silver bands” all taking part in a Scouts Parade. “It seems to be all right for one culture and not for another,” he said.
“There is a great working relationship between Monsignor O’Reilly and the Dean - the two heads of the churches in Enniskillen.
“They would have been well aware that the parade was taking place.”
Turing his attention to Ms. Coyle he told her: “Any time there is a parade in town you seem to raise your head. ‘Culture, culture, culture’.
“This is a unionist culture. You talk about respect. Respect works both ways. That is all I will say.”
Quick to make clear she had not singled out any individual or group in her comments, Ms. Coyle told him: “It doesn’t matter who the band was, they disturbed a Confirmation.”
“Take it up with the Parades Commission,” one councillor interjected.
“Through the Chair, I am,” she replied, “I just think it is a shame that it happened.”
Her party colleague Barry Doherty said: “I don’t want to start any row here, but I have a serious problem with a councillor telling another councillor to ‘keep their head down’.
“That is twice this councillor has been told to ‘keep her head down’. Maybe he is just using the wrong term of phrase?”
DUP man, Errol Thompson told councillors he was sad the issue of parades had come up once again.
“Councillor Coyle, this is culture,” he told her, “It is maybe not your culture, but that is a unionist culture.
“And I ask you to respect that culture.
“You have spoken about this before. I respect who you are: I respect your culture. Please respect ours. And in terms of Mr. Elliott, he was right to refer to you, you were the person who raised it.”
His party colleague Raymond Farrell, said: “This was a special day for a lot of parents and children a like. I spoke to some of the parents and children myself.
“I don’t want to see headlines in the paper that detracts from that. This was a church service and I think we should leave it a that.”
Sinn Fein councillor John Feely said the “tone of the debate got out of hand”. “No one said they didn’t respect culture. The fact is that two events clashed at the same time. Two church services, and Councillor Coyle didn’t know.
“This is just a mismanagement of time. There is no need for people to get so defensive about that.
“I am glad you respect our culture, there are no problems here. The timings just weren’t good.”
Katrina Armstong, Fermanagh Scouts County Commissioner said:  “Our service was originally timed to finish 15 minutes before the service in St. Michael’s. We were aware that a service was happening in the chapel across the road. Unfortunately our service overran and our parade was still forming up as the St. Michael’s service was finished, which meant that their church doors were open.
“Our association is open to adults and youth members of all faith denominations and none. This was reflected during the parade and service on Sunday. We are an inclusive association. It was never our intention to offend in any way. We unreservedly apologise if any offence was caused. It was the largest parade of young people that we have had in a long time. It was great to see so many young people and their families out supporting a special event.”