Belfast Telegraph

Twelfth: Loyalist parade past Belfast Catholic church passes peacefully: Minor scuffles between police and supporters

By John Mulgrew

A contentious loyalist march which passes by a parading flashpoint outside a Catholic church in Belfast has passed off largely peacefully.

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Hundreds of marchers made their way past St Patrick's church at Donegall Street at around 7pm this evening.

Once again there was a small protest from nationalist residents at two points along the route - as the rain continued.

There were brief scuffles with police and a number of missiles thrown as police dealt with supporters around 100 metres away at the road's junction with Union Street.

Bands passing the church largely stuck to the Parades Commission ruling of a single drumbeat along the stretch beginning at the junction with Union Street.

But at least one band breached the determination - playing music past the church.

Mass goers were caught outside St Patrick's for a time as bands passed by, but there were no instances of any trouble.

All eyes are now on marchers as they make their way on the return leg of a Twelfth feeder parade in north Belfast.

Members of the Orange Order staged a peaceful protest there this evening.

Bands played music, supporters cheered and sang and demonstrators carried a large protest banner as they were halted a short distance from the nationalist Ardoyne area. Some supporters held Union flag umbrellas against the rain.

Marchers will once again stop at police lines on the Woodvale Road - preventing them from moving onto the Crumlin Road and past the Ardoyne shops.

Last year serious rioting broke out in the area, leaving dozens of police officers injured as they attempted to quell a violent stand-off at the interface.

Up to 50 protest parades were planned by the Orange Order across Northern Ireland today in response to the determination by the Parades Commission to once again stop marchers from passing by the Ardoyne shop fronts.

This morning, the outgoing leg of the march passed off without serious incident.

Earlier today , Chief Constable George Hamilton - who toured the security operation in north Belfast - said he was cautiously optimistic about the chances of a peaceful return parade in the area.

"I think we are in as good a place as we can be just now," he told the BBC.

"I'm optimistic, but it's a cautious optimism and I'm just hoping that people take responsibility for their own actions and they need to understand that, as I've said throughout the past couple of weeks, the police will do our piece to keep people safe and also to collect evidence where people step outside of the law."

As many as 3,500 PSNI officers have been deployed across Northern Ireland.

Around a third of those will be in north Belfast as those from across the political spectrum hope the large police presence will not be required.

Meanwhile across Belfast and Northern Ireland thousands lined the streets for the annual Twelfth parades.

Around 50,000 Orangemen and band members attended 17 Twelfth demonstrations organised by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland.

In Belfast, lodges from nine districts and some 90 bands will make their way from Clifton Street along the six-mile route to the field at Barnett Desmesne.

This year's three flagship events are to take place in Limavady, Markethill and Larne. (click here to see video from Larne)

Orangemen from the border counties will gather in Irvinestown, while the north Down demonstration is in Newtownards.


Further reading

Can the Orange Order keep a lid on Twelfth tensions?

Promote Twelfth more, BBC urged by Ulster Unionist

The Twelfth: Keep it dignified or stay at home, warns Peter Robinson

Irish flag raised above Orange Hall in sectarian attack

The Twelfth: village's shame over the flag-flyers who went too far

In Pictures: Bonfires across Northern Ireland ahead of Twelfth marches

Three stabbed in sectarian fighting

Gerry Adams effigy hangs from loyalist Ballycraigy bonfire in Antrim

Judge rejects parade curb challenge

Thousands set for Orange Order's Twelfth parades

Orange Order's country cousins can teach Belfast's brethren a real lesson

Ardoyne parade proposal: It is an idea that just might offer a way forward 

Ardoyne parade: Police ready to act, but hope they won't have to

Ardoyne parade impasse in north Belfast can be broken

Implement Belfast Telegraph's Ardoyne parade proposal, unionists urge 


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