Orange Marches | 

Thousands march in Twelfth of July parades across Northern Ireland

The annual Orange Order parades commemorate the Battle of the Boyne, when the protestant William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II in 1690.

Marchers line streets in Belfast for July 12

Neasa CumiskeySunday World

Thousands of people lined the streets of Northern Ireland today to mark the first full Twelfth of July celebrations since the Covid pandemic.

The annual Orange Order parades commemorate the Battle of the Boyne, when the protestant William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II in 1690.

573 loyal order parades are taking place across the North today, with marching bands taking to the streets to mark the occasion. Of these, 33 follow routes that are deemed to be sensitive.

The Belfast parade is one of the longer routes, passing through the city from Clifton Street, laying a wreath at the cenotaph at City Hall, and progressing on to the demonstration field at Barnett Demesne, while a procession also walked through Hillsborough in Co. Down this afternoon.

Banging the drum. Drummer of the Shankill Protestant boys band.

And around one third of the PSNI are lining the streets as the celebrations continue, with 2,500 officers on duty on the busiest and most resource-intensive day of the year.

In Belfast, the Orange Order’s County Grand Master, Spencer Beattie, said around 10,000 order members and musicians were due to take part.

“It’s just great to get everyone back out again. You’ll have noticed from the number of bonfires that were about last night that everybody is coming back into the spirit of the Twelfth of July again,” he told PA News Agency.

“It’s immeasurable how many spectators you have at the side of the road; that’s where you see the tourist part of it, in the city centre.

Agmnes Diddy from the Shankill road area of Belfast enjoying the 12th of July Parade

“People are just happy to be getting back into a traditional Twelfth of July. We understood the reasons why we had to reduce the size of the parade – we had to keep people at home in 2020 – last year we reduced and spread about the city to reduce the crowds.

“But now we have got the full parade back on the road, people are out with smiles and enjoying themselves.”

Last night, fire and rescue crews in Northern Ireland received a total of 203 emergency calls on the first night of celebrations for the Twelfth of July.

As hundreds of bonfires were lit across loyalist areas, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) responded to 98 operational incidents.

A spokesperson said there was a 12.5% decrease in bonfire incidents compared to 2021, with the night’s activity reaching its peak between 11pm and 1am.

They added that between 6pm on Monday and 2am on Tuesday, 35 of the 98 operational incidents NIFRS responded to related to bonfires.

“NIFRS maintained normal emergency response throughout the evening, attending a range of operational incidents including special service calls, a road traffic collision and other emergencies,” the spokesperson said.

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