The Orange Order have vowed to fight the Parades Commission to deny them access to parts of Belfast for their annual Twelfth of July parades after Saturday’s marches passed off without serious incident.
Parades across Northern Ireland attracted tens of thousands of Orangemen but there was no repeat of the sectarian clashes in North Belfast that marred the 2013 event.
The Parades Commission had banned the Orange Order from returning along the stretch of road where police were attacked last year.
Orange Order marshals kept the parade away from the flashpoint as armoured vehicles, water cannon and riot police protected the spot where riots had broken out last year.
Northern Ireland’s Chief Constable George Hamilton told the BBC: “I am pleased that today’s Twelfth parades have passed off largely successfully and that those taking part were able to enjoy their day.
“This has been due to a number of factors, including responsible leadership from a range of groups such as the Orange Order. I welcome the repeated pleas from the Orange Order and politicians from all sides for all parades and protests to be peaceful and lawful.”
DUP MP Nigel Dodds praised the north Belfast unionist community when he spoke to the BBC.
He said: “What we have seen today and over the last number of weeks has been leadership at every level in the unionist and loyalist community.
“At a local level, where there has been a peaceful demonstration and protest in support of the Ligoniel lodge’s right to get home and it has being carried through at a higher level and a political and community level as well and that will continue.
“And I want to commend the local community here, the local lodges, the Orange Institution, the political parties who have worked together, come together in a united way to provide the leadership which has resulted in a day which I believe marks a watershed in terms of this campaign.”
All parades stopped for six minutes in protest at the Parades Commission determination on the return of the north Belfast feeder parade.
In a move to embrace social media, the Orange Order had encouraged people to take selfies to ‘capture the colour, spectacle and unrivalled carnival atmosphere at Orange parades’.
Orange Order Grand Master Edward Stevenson said: “I hope the photographs will act as a lasting memory of another glorious Twelfth of July.
“The Twelfth of July is a day like no other and a unique celebration of our culture, faith and identity.”
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