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Tuesday July 04, 2006 21:12 by Staff Journalist - Andersonstown News
Short Strand parade anger
KAI on these marchers' drums doesn't mean 'Kill All Irish', says Orange Order. It's a tribute to Kai Johansen (you know, the 1960s Rangers defender)
Monday 3 July 2006
Strand parade anger
Short Strand residents have demanded the Parades Commission take action against the Orange Order following a contentious parade that passed the East Belfast nationalist enclave on Saturday.
Over 1,000 Orangemen and 33 loyalist bands marched past the Strand for their annual Battle of the Somme commemoration, but angry residents say it was in reality a tribute to loyalist paramilitaries.
UVF and YCV insignia were prominently displayed at the parade and a Red Hand Defenders banner was flown. One band had the letters KAI on their drums. That’s widely understood to mean ‘Kill All Irish’, but an Orange Order spokesman claimed that was not the meaning in this case – he said the letters were a tribute to a Glasgow Rangers player who last turned out for the club in the 1960s.
A spokesman for the Short Strand Residents’ Group said, “Yet again there were multiple breaches of the Parades Commission determination, as happens every year with this parade. It was again taken over by UVF supporters who flew their flags and played their sectarian tunes despite the determination saying they were not allowed. A Rathcoole band had ‘KAI' written on its drum which means ‘Kill All Irish’, so not only was the parade sectarian in nature, it was also racist.
“We have written to the Orange Order, and particularly District Number 6, who organise the parade, to try and get them to create a climate where dialogue can take place but they either don't answer our letters or send very vague replies. Unless they enter into meaningful dialogue we will continue to reject these sectarian parades marching past our area.”
The spokesman also called on the PSNI to do more to stop the breaches of the Parades Commission rulings.
“The followers of the parade were openly drinking alcohol, which is against the law in that area, but the PSNI just stood by and watched.
“When one loyalist came on to the central reservation on the Albertbridge Road, which had been deemed a sterile area, to video nationalist protesters, the PSNI did nothing to move him.”
Belfast DUP councillor Nelson McCausland, who took part in Saturday's parade, said he did not see any paramilitary insignia on the day.
“I didn't see the [Red Hand Defenders] banner mentioned but since the parade did not go though the Short Strand and was kept a considerable distance back I fail to see how anyone could be intimidated.
“However, some people are content to portray themselves as victims continuously. It was a very pleasant evening and the few protestors who were out would have needed binoculars to be offended.”
A spokesperson for the Orange Order told the Andersonstown News that any banners displayed were historical and he claimed that the initials ‘KAI’ were a tribute to former Rangers player Kai Johansen, who played for the club in the 1960s and who’s currently in hospital on the Isle of Man. It’s well known, however, that in the 1970s one of the most notorious of the loyalist Tartan gangs which targeted Catholics and their homes in North Belfast was the ‘Rathcoole KAI’ (‘Kill All Irish’).
The Order spokesman said, “We are confident that the flags displayed were an historical acknowledgment of the original Ulster Volunteer Force, many of whose members were killed in Flanders in 1916 in defence of the crown. The Sons of KAI flute band is named, with his permission, after the former Danish-born Glasgow Rangers player, Kai Johansen, who we understand is now gravely ill with cancer in the Isle of Man.”
He added: “It is sad that as we marked the shared sacrifice of unionists and nationalists 90 years later that a tiny handful of Irish republicans should seek to object to their neighbours proceeding along the shared space of a main arterial road, and by doing so obstruct the vision of a shared and peaceful future.”