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Application lodged to hold three low-key parades over Twelfth period

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Rev Mervyn Gibson says the Orange Order has cancelled all its parades

Rev Mervyn Gibson says the Orange Order has cancelled all its parades

PA

Rev Mervyn Gibson says the Orange Order has cancelled all its parades

Three applications to hold small band parades over the Twelfth of July period have been handed in to the Parades Commission.

Notifications were received for two events in Cookstown and one in the north Antrim village of Dervock, while an application was also lodged for a larger parade in Belfast in September.

The organisers of each parade have stressed that they will immediately withdraw their applications if the Covid-19 regulations still apply.

It was announced by the Orange Lodge of Ireland in April that all Twelfth of July parades would be cancelled to protect public health during the coronavirus pandemic.

Since the lockdown came into affect, Cookstown Grenadiers have applied to hold band parades in the town on July 11, and July 13, while Dervock Young Defenders also plan to hold a small parade in the village on July 13.

In their applications it stated that no more than 30 people would take part with zero in attendance.

Elsewhere, the South Belfast Cultural and Historical Society have notified the Parades Commission of a planned parade on September 12 in the city, with 20 bands from all over Northern Ireland taking part.

It was estimated that 500 people would participate and another 1,000 would spectate.

A Parades Commission spokesperson said: "For parades notified to the PSNI and the commission before lockdown, the commission contacts organisers on a rolling basis three weeks in advance of the notified date of their parade to ascertain if they are aware of the Covid-19 regulations.

"At the time of writing, all organisers of parades notified until June 5, have stated that they are aware of the Covid-19 regulations and have authorised the commission to withdraw their parade notifications.

"There are, therefore, no parades notified to the commission for the next three weeks."

The spokesperson continued: "The commission has currently four parade notifications received after lockdown.

"These are for two parades, with 30 participants, in Cookstown on July 11 and 13, a parade of 24 participants in Dervock on July 13, and a large parade in Belfast on September 12.

"The organisers of each of these parades have stated to the commission that they will not hold their events if the Covid-19 regulations prohibit them.

"The commission will keep all notified parades under review and will maintain communications with parade organisers and the PSNI regarding them.

"The commission has no role regarding the interpretation nor enforcement of Covid-19 regulations."

The Rev Mervyn Gibson, Grand Secretary of the Orange Lodge of Ireland, commented: "The Orange Institution has cancelled all of its Twelfth of July parades."

Dr Esmond Birnie from Ulster University estimated that the economy in Northern Ireland could lose up to £4m due to the cancellation of this year's Twelfth of July parades.

The figure was based on last year's approximate attendance of around 200,000 across Northern Ireland.

Dr Birnie predicted the loss of £4m in spending by assuming an approximate spend of £20 per person among the 200,000.

Belfast Telegraph