NI Twelfth of July parades pass off without incident, says PSNI

No reports of disorder but 17-year-old critical after becoming engulfed in flames at bonfire

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Orange Order has replaced the 18 large-scale 12th July demonstrations in Northern Ireland with over 100 smaller local parades. Video: Freya McClements

 

The Twelfth of July parades which took place across Northern Ireland on Monday passed off “without incident”, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said on Monday evening.

And while there were no reports of any disorder at the Eleventh Night bonfires on Sunday into Monday morning that preceded the parades, a 17-year-old male suffered severe burns at a bonfire in north Belfast.

The youth was taken to hospital where he was reported to be in a critical condition after being engulfed in flames at a bonfire at Ballysillan, north Belfast.

The teenager received treatment from fire crews who were at the scene. Police, who have asked anyone who witnessed the incident to come forward, are trying to determine if he caught fire while accelerant was being added to the bonfire.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service said it was “exceptionally busy” over Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights protecting “properties from radiated heat [and] embers” from the bonfires.

However, unlike in some previous years, according to the service, “there were no attacks on fire-service personnel or appliances at any bonfire-related incidents”.

Sisters Amelia (3) and Anna Newell (5) with their cousin Faith Newell (4) from Kilkeel, Co Down, at the annual Twelfth of July celebrations on Monday. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Sisters Amelia (3) and Anna Newell (5) with their cousin Faith Newell (4) from Kilkeel, Co Down, at the annual Twelfth of July celebrations on Monday. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson marches as a member of Ballinran Orange Lodge through Kilkeel, Co. Down. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson marches as a member of Ballinran Orange Lodge through Kilkeel, Co. Down. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson (second from right at front of group) marching as a member of Ballinran Orange Lodge through Kilkeel, Co. Down, as part of the annual Twelfth of July celebrations. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson (second from right at front of group) marching as a member of Ballinran Orange Lodge through Kilkeel, Co. Down, as part of the annual Twelfth of July celebrations. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Normally, there are major Orange Order parades at 18 venues across Northern Ireland but this year due to Covid-19 the loyal institution decided instead to hold more localised and restricted events with fewer numbers marching and spectating.

During the day thousands of Orange Order members participated in about 550 smaller parades in more than 100 locations around the North to commemorate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II to secure the Protestant line of succession to the English throne.

There had been concerns around some of the bonfires and also fears that loyalist opposition to the Northern Ireland protocol that is disrupting some trade from Britain to the North could result in disturbances.

At the time of writing on Monday evening the PSNI reported that the Twelfth was peaceful.

“I am pleased that today has passed without incident,” said assistant chief constable Jonathan Roberts.

“I would like to thank and acknowledge all of the people who helped make this a safe and enjoyable day for many,” he added.

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson – who marched with the Ballinran Orange lodge in Kilkeel, Co Down – condemned burning of the Republic’s Tricolour on some bonfires. He said he also had seen British union flags burned at nationalist bonfires marking the introduction of internment in 1971.

“I don’t want to see election posters or flags burned on bonfires, I think we can celebrate our culture and our tradition in a respectful way,” he told the BBC.

“Respect is a two-way street. If you want to gain respect for your traditions and culture you’ve got to show respect for the traditions, culture and symbols of other communities.”