Corby’s MP and mayor have both called for sectarian bands to be banned from leading the town’s remembrance service.
Louise Mensch and Gail McDaid have both signed a letter sent to the Royal British Legion raising concerns that the Corby Loyalist Flute Band are leading this year’s parade.
The band has been asked to lead the service in place of the Purple Star Flute Band this year – both are loyalist groups.
Mrs Mensch and Mrs McDaid want all sectarian elements of the service to be removed in future, and for any sectarian symbols to be removed this year.
The band and the Legion have criticised the view, saying it will create tensions which currently don’t exist in the town.
Mrs Mensch said: “It is the overt symbolism that makes me uncomfortable. As far as I know it doesn’t happen anywhere else in England. In our progressive town, I think we can have a community-led parade in the fullness of time.
“Gail and I wanted to do this cross-party. It is something we spoke about at the Highland Gathering.
“This isn’t an attack on the Orange Order, but Remembrance Day is not the time or place for political or sectarian content.
“It is something I felt strongly before I was elected, but at the time it was not my place to say about it. I think silently many people feel that it is not appropriate.”
Cllr McDaid said: “After concerns were raised regarding the ceremony I had a valuable meeting with the Royal British Legion. Remembrance Sunday is dear to my heart and I will be proud to walk with them at the ceremony as always intended.”
John Mahon, 53, is a standard bearer in the Corby Loyalist Flute Band.
He said: “She has upturned a hornet’s nest. Remembrance day is for all religions who died for the empire.
“We have two divides but we all come together for remembrance weekend. Our grandfathers and great grandfathers fought to keep us free.
“As band members we have been turning out at remembrance for the last 15 years. It was an honour when they asked us to lead it. We don’t play any songs that could offend anyone.”
Mick Evans, chairman of the Corby branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “Corby people have always supported the Legion and they are behind us 150 per cent. The MP has lit a powder keg for no reason.”