The Orange Order and PSNI have welcomed a day of Twelfth celebrations that has “passed without incident”.
Edward Stevenson, Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, called the celebrations “a great success”.
Sinn Fein MLA Fra McCann, however, reported “disgraceful scenes” of sectarian abuse this afternoon as "crowds of loyalists" were directed through the Falls area in west Belfast.
Coronavirus restrictions saw the usual 18 main demonstrations last seen two years ago replaced with over 100 localised events.
Assistant Chief Constable Jonathan Roberts commented: “I am pleased that today has passed without incident.
“I would like to thank and acknowledge all of the people who helped make this a safe and enjoyable day for many.
“We will be continuing our duties throughout the night to keep our communities safe.”
Mr Stevenson, who spent the day with Brethern from his own District in Newtownstewart, said: “I am delighted to report that the 2021 Twelfth of July parades have been a great success.
“Today we witnessed a huge turnout at 100 parades across the province - many lodges swelled with new members, excellent bands and a large turnout of spectators. Those who say our Institution, our culture and traditions are dying will have been very disappointed.”
He said in changing this year’s format, the Orange Order had put the best interests of the wider community first in relation to Covid-19.
“I trust everyone has enjoyed their ‘Twelfth near home’ and I now look forward to many more events as we seek to continue marking the Centenary of Northern Ireland in a style befitting such a momentous milestone.”
In sharp contrast, Sinn Fein’s Fra McCann issued a statement claiming that loyalist crowds antagonised local residents at Hamill and Barrack Street.
“The crowds antagonised local residents, waving flags and chanting sectarian songs as well as urinating in the street and vomiting on people’s property,” he said.
“A local pensioner was also left shaken as a intoxicated man screamed sectarian abuse in her face.
“Local residents were genuinely fearful to leave their homes as the crowds ravaged through the streets, this is absolutely unacceptable in 2021.
“No one should ever be afraid to leave their home.”
PSNI Chief Inspector Rosie Thompson said: “At approximately 1.30pm, we received reports that as a number of males made their way through the Hamill Street, John Street and Barrack Street area they committed acts of anti-social behaviour, including shouting sectarian comments and urinating in the street.
“Officers responded, and they remained in the area to ensure there were no further incidents.”
She added: “I want to reassure the community our officers will be on patrol in the area this evening, and we urge anyone with information about any of these reported incidents today to call us on 101, and quote reference number 1311 of July 12.”
A report can also be made using the online reporting form via www.psni.police.uk/makeareport. Alternatively, information can be provided to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org