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Hundreds take part in peaceful Tour of the North Orange parade

By David Young

Published 18/06/2016

The Tour of the North takes place in Belfast last night
The Tour of the North takes place in Belfast last night
The Tour of the North takes place in Belfast last night

More than 800 members of bands pounded the streets of north Belfast last night as they took part in the Orange Order's Tour of the North parade.

Although the event sparked public order problems in the past, yesterday's parade passed off without incident.

North Belfast DUP MLA Nelson McCausland was among the leading Orangemen taking part in the procession.

The Parades Commission imposed a number of restrictions on the march.

As the loyalist bands made their way down Donegall Street, past St Patrick's Church, they were restricted to playing only a single drumbeat .

The commission also insisted that no paramilitary-style clothing be worn by participants during the parade, and that no flags or banners relating to proscribed organisations be displayed.

On top of that, supporters were additionally banned from accompanying the parade as it passed between the Westlink area and Union Street.

There was a substantial police presence along the parade route, which was lined by armoured vehicles.

At the potential flashpoint outside St Patrick's Church in Donegall Street, officers in riot gear swamped the narrow streets.

Elsewhere on the route, police dressed in flak jackets and short-sleeved shirts.

As the sun went down, they were heard complaining about the chilly evening breeze.

A local community group had planned a counter-demonstration, but there was no sign of any confrontation as the Orange parade passed through the north of the city and towards the city centre.

In 2013, North Belfast Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly hit the headlines after being carried a short distance on the front of a moving police vehicle during the Tour of the North parade.

The then-Stormont Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin also received hospital treatment for an arm injury sustained during the same incident .

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