Northern Ireland

Thousands mark UVF 100th anniversary in Belfast

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Media captionOrganisers said that between 8,000 and 10,000 took part in the parade

Thousands of people have taken part in a parade in east Belfast to mark the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).

The UVF was set up in 1913 to oppose Home Rule.

The parade made its way around the roads of east Belfast to a rally at Craigavon House where the original UVF was formed.

Organisers said that between 8,000 and 10,000 people had taken part in the march.

Many were dressed in period costumes and some carried replica firearms of the type smuggled into the northern part of Ireland to oppose Home Rule at that time.

The organisers of the parade said the event marked the founding of the historical UVF and had nothing to do with the modern-day paramilitary group.

They described the event as a history pageant that was open to all and in no way controversial or confrontational.

Organisers said it was also a commemoration of those UVF members who died at the Somme to preserve our freedom of speech.

A rally took place at Craigavon House, the family home of Northern Irelands first prime minister, James Craig, off the Circular Road, and the former headquarters of the UVF.

Despite pre-publicity in which organisers described the event as a community one, and purely historical, the BBC and another camera crew were prevented from filming within the grounds of Craigavon House and from recording speeches.