Belfast Telegraph

17,000 Royal Black marchers to take to the streets of Northern Ireland

By Lesley Houston

Over 17,000 members of the Royal Black Institution will take to the streets of Northern Ireland today for the culmination of the annual marching season.

Marchers from 275 preceptories will converge on six venues across the province for the high point of the Black Institution's calendar of events - also known as Last Saturday - with Newry hosting the largest demonstration.

Some 5,000 members of 115 preceptories and 110 bands will go on parade in the Co Down city where crowds of up to 5,000 are expected to enjoy the spectacle.

The main procession moves off at noon via Downshire Road, before the platform proceedings, commencing at 3pm to be chaired by County Grand Master, John Smyth.

This year's principal speaker will be Past Sovereign Grand Master William Logan who will also address the crowd before a service of worship.

In Limavady, 3,000 members from 34 preceptories will be accompanied by 32 bands for a procession which begins at noon from Church Street, winding up at 2pm when County Grand Master Trevor Kyle will host the day's speeches, featuring the Reverend Nigel Reid.

Belfast's Grand Black Chapter is following in the footsteps of this year's flagship Twelfth demonstration by heading to Comber for Last Saturday.

Here, the platform proceedings take place prior to the parade with the City of Belfast's Grand Master William Mawhinney presiding as chairman and guest speaker.

The parade begins at noon, when around 2,000 members will parade throughout the town, starting at Parkway and finishing at Copeland Link.

Members of the Black Institution from Scotland are turning out with their brethren in Antrim for a demonstration featuring around 80 preceptories, which starts at 12.30pm at Fountain Hill.

Ballygawley's event will feature 2,500 members from 70 preceptories including districts from the Republic of Ireland.

The parade starts at 11.45am at Old Omagh Road before the day's festivities finish with an address by guest speaker, Reverend David Reid.

Visiting preceptories from Donegal will join the demonstration in Donemana, Co Tyrone, at 1.30pm, when 1,000 members from 25 preceptories will follow a route starting at Longland Road, where it will also finish.

Following the speeches, the day's final words will be in worship, led by Ian Donnell.

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