Belfast Telegraph

Thousands on streets for 'Black Saturday'

By Chris Kilpatrick

Thousands of Royal Black Institution marchers have brought the curtain down on this year's parading season.

Around 17,000 members of the Royal Black Institution from 370 preceptories took part in parades throughout Northern Ireland on Saturday.

Events took place in Armagh, Londonderry, Ballyclare and Larne in Co Antrim, and Donemana, Co Tyrone.

The largest demonstration took place in Rathfriland where 106 preceptories were accompanied by 80 bands.

Sovereign Grand Master of the order, Millar Farr, addressed around 3,000 'Blackmen' following their parade in Ballyclare.

In Belfast, protesters gathered outside St Patrick's Church on Donegall Street, the scene of trouble during Loyal Order parades in the past.

Stormont culture minister Caral Ni Chuilin claimed bands breached a Parades Commission determination during the morning demonstration.

She said: "Bands once again played the sectarian Famine Song while approaching St Patrick's Church. This type of behaviour is not helpful and must be condemned."

The return parade passed off without incident.

The Sinn Fein MLA added: "Despite this it remains my opinion that a resolution can be found in talks between the Loyal Orders and local people on the problems associated with this part of the route.

"Dialogue threatens no one and I'm calling on people in the loyal orders to grasp the nettle and work towards a solution on parades on this area."

In 2012 the Royal Black Institution issued an apology after bands breached a Parades Commission ruling by playing music while marching past the church that August.

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