Belfast Telegraph

Belfast orange parade with a difference

Dutch fans will march en masse to Windsor Park

Dutch football fans will parade through Belfast to Windsor Park next month
Dutch football fans will parade through Belfast to Windsor Park next month
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

For the first time a national football association has had to notify the Parades Commission to allow its fans to walk from Belfast city centre to Windsor Park ahead of an international match.

Holland fans will descend on Belfast next month for the Euro 2020 qualifier against Northern Ireland at Windsor Park, and they have plans to stage an "orange" parade with a difference in the build-up to the big game.

Around 900 Dutch supporters, affiliated with the Royal Netherlands Football Association will gather in the city centre ahead of the match on Saturday, November 16, and will march en masse to the stadium for the 7.45pm kick-off.

The colourful half-hour parade of the 'Oranje' football fans is due to leave from Dublin Road around 6pm and take in Shaftsbury Square, Donegall Road and Donegall Avenue ahead of the crucial qualifying match.

A Parades Commission spokesperson confirmed: "The Commission received on September 19 notification of a procession on Saturday, November 16 by the Royal Netherlands Football Association along a route from Dublin Road to Donegall Avenue.

"The organiser has notified of 900 participants with the procession taking place from 6pm until 6.30pm."

The Parades Commission added that while it's not unusual for civic parades to need notification, this is the first on record from a visiting football association.

"This proposed procession by the Royal Netherlands Football Association is one of approximately 1,700 civic, sporting, charity and other events that are notified to the Commission each year, and are published on its website," the Commission said.

"These events rarely give rise to community sensitivities and are, therefore, not considered by the Commission.

"Instead, the main point of contact for the organiser of civic-type parades is with the PSNI regarding traffic management and other issues.

"The Commission has no record of similar notifications from football associations."

It's understood the Dutch representatives were made aware of the legislative requirements in Northern Ireland during a meeting with the Irish FA and PSNI, which took place in Belfast a number of weeks ago.

Separately, the Amalgamation of Official Northern Ireland Supporters' Clubs (AONISC) helped them to identify a potential meeting place for their fans in Belfast on matchday, to allow for ticket collection and a social event.

The match is a must win clash for Northern Ireland if they are to keep alive their hopes of automatic qualification for the Euro 2020 finals.

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