Northern Ireland

The Twelfth: Thousands march in Orange Order parades

Belfast parade
Image caption Orangemen, including the DUP's Nelson McCausland and Nigel Dodds, and bandsmen at the Belfast parade
Marchers in Bessbrook Image copyright Graham curry photography
Image caption Up to 15,000 people attended the parade in Bessbrook, south Armagh
Band at Belfast parade Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Hundreds of bands have taken part in the demonstrations

Thousands of Orange Order members have been taking part in parades across Northern Ireland.

The parades mark the 325th anniversary of King William III's victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

A total of 18 demonstrations were held.

The order has again been barred from parading along a stretch of the Crumlin Road in north Belfast that separates unionist and nationalist communities, on its return from the commemorations.

There is a heavy security presence in the Woodvale Road area on Monday evening.

The parade in Belfast started from Carlisle Circus, making its way along Clifton Street, Donegall Street, Royal Avenue, Castle Junction and Donegall Place to city hall.

Image caption Police vehicles are in place in the Woodvale Road area of Belfast on Monday evening
Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption The marchers had to be prepared to wade through a few puddles
Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption But there was no time to reflect on the bad weather
Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption A stowaway on one of the Lambeg drums

A single drumbeat was played as the parade passed St Patrick's Church in Donegall Street.

However, one band, Finaghy True Blues from south Belfast, played a tune going past the Catholic church, in spite of a Parades Commission determination that only the drumbeat should be played.

They admitted they had played the hymn How Great Thou Art and said they were only playing religious music outside a place of worship.

Also in north Belfast, a 21-year-old man was arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer and disorderly behaviour in the Ardoyne area. He was arrested along with a 32-year-man, who was later released.

At city hall, a wreath-laying ceremony took place at the Cenotaph.

Image caption Orangemen laid wreaths at the Cenotaph at Belfast City Hall
Image caption The Last Post was played during the ceremony

After that, the parade passed through Donegall Square West to Bedford Street, Dublin Road, Shaftesbury Square, Bradbury Place, Lisburn Road, Balmoral Avenue and Malone Road, on its way to the demonstration field at Barnett Demesne.

Speeches have taken place with both the Parades Commission and media coming in for criticism.

Orange Order Belfast County grand master George Chittick said: "We gave our people a peaceful Twelfth last year.

"What was our reward? More stringent measures from the Parades Commission - the biased Parades Commission.

"Let's not lose the battle. Remember it may take long, it may not be in my lifetime, but I'll tell you this, we will win in the end."

Elsewhere, the Orange Order said the demonstration in Bessbrook, south Armagh, provided "an enhanced cultural experience" as part of the Twelfth celebrations.

Almost 5,000 people and 80 bands took part in the march, which the order said was the biggest in Northern Ireland.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Some colourful characters at the Belfast parade
Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption There was also some interesting headgear on display
Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Marchers of all ages have been taking part in the Belfast parade
Image caption The parade in Bessbrook passes the war memorial

BBC News NI's Gordon Adair said there had been some concerns expressed by some residents of the village but letters sent by the Orange Order to every house on the parade route seems to have helped address the concerns.

"The atmosphere here is relaxed and peaceful," he added.

Parades took place at a number of other locations including, Coleraine, Holywood, Lawrencetown, Benburb, Antrim, Kesh and Fivemiletown.

More than 3,000 police officers are being deployed during the parades on Monday.

Image caption The Belfast parade passes up the Dublin Road
Image caption A banner on display at the parade in Bessbrook
Image caption Umbrellas were needed for the parade in Coleraine
Image caption Thousands attended the parade in Kesh, County Fermanagh

More on this story