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Up to 10,000 loyalists took park in a Belfast parade marking the centenary of the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force. Organizers of the parade insisted that there was no link with modern-day paramilitaries and that the emphasis was solely on marking the events of 1913 Photo by: Google Images

10,000 loyalists march in Belfast parade to mark centenary of the Ulster Volunteer Force

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Up to 10,000 loyalists took park in a Belfast parade marking the centenary of the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force. Organizers of the parade insisted that there was no link with modern-day paramilitaries and that the emphasis was solely on marking the events of 1913 Photo by: Google Images

Up to 10,000 loyalists took park in a Belfast parade on Saturday marking the centenary of the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).

Supporters lined the streets as marchers, wearing period costumes and carrying replica weapons, set off along the Ravenhill Road.

The event, which stayed clear of sectarian flashpoints, passed off without incident.

Organizers of the parade insisted that there was no link with modern-day paramilitaries and that the emphasis was solely on marking the events of 1913.

Speaking to UTV, Billy Hutchinson, PUP leader, said "There is no matter of UDA, UVF in terms of on show; they wore totally different uniforms than they would have worn then and would have fired real guns and fired shots.

There was some controversy before the parade when hundred of UVF flags erected along the route last weekend raised concerns from some local residents. Police assured them that the flags were not related to a proscribed organization and offered to meet with local community groups.

The parade marks the founding of the old UVF 100 years ago to fight Home Rule. The present day paramilitary group of the same name was formed more than half a century later.

The events culminated in a gathering in the grounds of Craigavon House, where the plans for the original UVF were drawn up 100 years ago.

The great granddaughter of Sir James Craig addressed the crowd and a minute's silence was held for volunteers who had died over the last century.

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