Belfast Telegraph

Huge security presence sees 1916 Easter Rising march in Belfast passes off peacefully

By Rebecca Black

The PSNI has defended its massive security operation that effectively closed down the heart of Belfast city centre yesterday for several hours ahead of a republican parade.

From early morning police worked to secure the parade route, including Royal Avenue, with officers limiting access to the public.

Many access streets leading on to Royal Avenue were blocked with steel barricades by around 10am.

The parade, organised by the North Belfast 1916 Easter Rising Centenary Committee, started at 10.45am in the New Lodge area and passed along North Queen Street to the city centre.

It was led by a line of women carrying photographs of the leaders of the Easter Rising, which took place in Dublin a century ago.

Many participating in the Belfast parade carried republican flags.

Marchers were accompanied by Carrickhill Independent Flute Band.

On Donegall Street a single drum beat was played in respect of a church service taking place.

As the parade moved on to Royal Avenue it passed by a loyalist protest.

There was jeering from both sides as marchers passed the demonstration organised by the Loyal People's Protest and Protestant Coalition.

However, there were no incidents of violence.

A number of other republican parades took place on the Falls Road yesterday.

The largest was attended by an estimated 1,000 people and also passed off peacefully. The republican march was followed yesterday afternoon by an Orange Order parade in the city centre.

It was organised by the City of Belfast Loyal Orange Widows' Fund.

The parade started on the Crumlin Road at 2.30pm and walked along Donegall Street to Royal Avenue before makings its way to the Shankill area for a church service.

Marchers later staged a return parade. A number of Carrick Hill residents staged a protest.

PSNI Superintendent Darrin Jones said he was pleased at how the day had gone. "The aim was to ensure the safety of everyone involved," he said. "We had an appropriate and proportionate operation in place and I am very pleased with how it has passed.

"The efforts made by community representatives and event organisers showed a real willingness to ensure all events passed off peacefully."

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