Northern Ireland

Coronavirus: Parades Commission notified of more than 250 Twelfth parades

Parade in Lisnaskea
Image caption Twelfth of July parades take place every year in Northern Ireland to mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne

The Parades Commission has been notified of more than 250 parades over the 11 to 13 July period.

Up to 30 people are now allowed to meet outdoors while social distancing.

Twelfth of July parades were cancelled across Northern Ireland in April.

The Commission said it considered it necessary to impose restrictions on three parades based upon "pre-existing parading tensions in those specific locations".

In a statement the commission said that early cancellation of the Twelfth by the Orange Order had "created the template for parading this summer, with the main demonstrations not taking place".

"The PSNI is responsible for enforcing Covid-19 Regulations," it added.

To date it has been notified of 282 parades.

The Parades Commission said there had been a "high level of positive engagement with the vast majority of organisers".

"A representative body of the bands is providing guidance on safe conduct, social distancing and supporters, and the commission is encouraging all organisers to abide by the regulations," it said.

"Responsibility for adherence to Covid-19 Regulations rests with all participants," it added.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Twelfth of July parades usually take place across NI but were cancelled due to coronavirus pandemic

The Apprentice Boys and the Royal Black Preceptory have cancelled their August demonstrations.

In June the attorney general told the Parades Commission that it has no legal powers to prevent bands from marching on the Twelfth, as reported by the Belfast Telegraph.

Then the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said it was aware of "discussions taking place" over Twelfth celebrations and that it will liaise with organisers, councils and others "to put in place an appropriate and proportionate policing support for any events".

In April, Orange Lodge of Ireland Grand Master Edward Stevenson said the decision to cancel the Twelfth was in keeping with government health advice and following consultation with the Order's grand masters in England and Scotland.

Tens of thousands of people attend parades on the Twelfth, which is held every year to mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne.

Parades are usually held on 12 July but due to the Twelfth falling on a Sunday this year, it is being celebrated on Monday 13 July.

King William III - the Dutch-born Protestant better known as William of Orange or King Billy - defeated the Catholic King James II in County Meath in July 1690.

On 12 July, marching bands all over Northern Ireland parade through villages, towns and cities before listening to speeches and prayers from senior Orangemen.

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