Orange Order Belfast parade passes off peacefully

Parade played only a single drumbeat as they passed St Patrick’s Catholic Church

Ahead of the Tour of North parade the Orange Order lost a High Court bid to overturn conditions imposed by the Parades Commission including not being allowed to play songs within “earshot” of St Patrick’s Church. Photograph: Reuters

Ahead of the Tour of North parade the Orange Order lost a High Court bid to overturn conditions imposed by the Parades Commission including not being allowed to play songs within “earshot” of St Patrick’s Church. Photograph: Reuters

 

The first major parade of the North’s marching season has passed off peacefully in Belfast.

The bands involved in the Orange Order’s annual Tour of the North march on Friday night respected a Parades Commission determination requesting they only play a single drumbeat as they passed St Patrick’s Catholic Church on Donegall Street, a flashpoint for sectarian incidents in the past.

Ahead of the contentious parade the Orange Order lost a High Court bid to overturn conditions imposed by the Parades Commission including not being allowed to play songs within “earshot” of St Patrick’s Church.

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly welcomed the peaceful nature of Friday night’s march and that the Parades Commission determination was respected.

Mr Kelly also thanked Carrick Hill residents for their “mature attitude” in not protesting at the parade, seen as the first major test for community relations during the marching season.

“I am convinced that the only way to resolve issues around parading is through genuine and inclusive dialogue with local communities,” he added.

A spokesman for the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast said while Carrick Hill residents called off their planned protest, “it was noted that large numbers still turned out to observe the parade”.

“Orangemen, women and bands paraded with dignity and showed respect at St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church,” he said.

“This was in stark contrast to the actions of republicans who attacked an earlier Orange feeder parade with stones and bricks in Lancaster Street. The incident has subsequently been reported to police for investigation.

“Despite such intolerance and sectarianism; we thank our supporters and look forward to celebrating our culture and heritage in a traditional manner.”

PSNI Belfast city district commander Chief Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw said he was pleased with how the parade passed and was encouraged by the manner in which all those present conducted themselves.

“The efforts made by community representatives and event organisers showed a real willingness to ensure the event passed off peacefully,” he said.

“This will create a positive platform for dealing with sensitive parades throughout the coming months.”