July 12 parades expect thousands of spectators

File photo: Orange Order Parade, July 2012.

Tens of thousands of spectators are expected to take part in parades this July 12.

The Orange Order and unionist leaders are calling for peaceful and lawful protests across the North.

Last year, five consecutive nights of violence ensued, with a number of teenagers being arrested.

Trouble broke out when Orange Order was banned from passing the Ardoyne shop fronts. The Parades Commission made the same decision for 2014, but the decision by the Orange Order not to engage in a standoff with Police in Ardoyne in North Belfast this evening may ease tensions.

Assistant Grand Master Mervyn Gibson said the parades will walk up the Whitfield Road, and stop there for bands to play, and a short speech will be delivered.

The parade will then return to Orange Hall in west Belfast, where he said its members will disperse. "We hope our supporters and crowds will follow that lead," he said.

The Tánaiste, Joan Burton, also appealed for all sides in the North to ensure that today's parades pass off peacefully.

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