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Peaceful day out for thousands across Northern Ireland as Apprentice Boys stage annual Easter parades

By Rebecca Black

The Apprentice Boys brought colour and music to the Co Down town of Ballynahinch yesterday as they staged their annual Easter Monday demonstration.

Dozens of morning parades took place across Northern Ireland, including Larne, Portadown, Newtownards, Castlederg, Enniskillen, Bangor and various parts of Belfast before the main event in Co Down, which included a parade and religious service.

An estimated 149 bands took part in the main demonstration yesterday afternoon along with just under 5,000 participants, and many more spectators.

A morning parade along the Crumlin Road in Belfast, which passed the Ardoyne shops, proceeded peacefully with only a low-key presence from the PSNI.

The peaceful scenes were in stark contrast to images of rioting following some parades in previous years in the same area.

The long north Belfast marching dispute was resolved last year following intensive talks which also saw the dismantling of a loyalist protest camp at Twaddell Avenue.

Today, the Junior Orange Order will hold its annual Easter Tuesday demonstration in Donaghadee.

The main parade, organised by Belfast Junior County Lodge, will leave the Harbour Road car park at 12.30pm and proceed through the town centre to Crommelin Park playing fields.

Senior officers and juniors representing three Belfast districts, Donaghadee, and a number of other lodges from across Northern Ireland - accompanied by eight bands - are due to participate.

Among the dignitaries on parade will be Junior grand master Roy Nixon and the grand secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Rev Mervyn Gibson. A number of visitors from Scotland are expected to take part in the procession.

The return parade is due to commence at 3.30pm.

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