Orange Order parade passes off peacefully in Belfast

A previously controversial Orange Order feeder parade in Belfast has passed off without incident.

The early morning procession along the Crumlin Road once sparked riots following its evening return, amid a dispute with nationalist residents.

However, the impasse was resolved in 2016 following agreement between the Orange Order and the residents.

Today, the parade passed the Ardoyne shops peacefully amid a low-key police presence as Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly looked on.

The main parade set off from Belfast Orange Hall at Carlisle Circus in the north of the city at 10am before making its way into the city centre.

Hundreds of Orange men and women accompanied by 60 musical bands took part.

An Orange Order parade in the Ardoyne area of Belfast (Niall Carson/PA)

Bands played a single drum beat along Donegall Street as they passed a Catholic church before bursting into both traditional marching tunes and takes on modern hits as they reached Royal Avenue where crowds of spectators had turned out to watch.

The parade paused at Belfast City Hall while wreaths were laid at the cenotaph.

It then continued along its six mile route to Barnett Demesne in the south of the city to hear speeches and for participants to enjoy some lunch.

Ulster Unionist peer Lord Laird, who died on Tuesday, was a notable absence from the Belfast parade.

A veteran member of the Orange Order, he had been a colourful presence at the Belfast parade, often dressing in period costume and riding in a horse-drawn carriage during the procession.

Orange Order parades took place across Northern Ireland at 17 venues including Londonderry, Brookeborough, Co Fermanagh, Ballyclare, Co Antrim, Donaghcloney, Co Down and Stewartstown, Co Tyrone.

In Londonderry, there was a heavy police presence as hundreds of Orange men, women and band members took part in the parade past the Derry walls despite an earlier security alert.

Police confirmed that two crude but viable devices were discovered on the city’s walls in the early hours of Thursday ahead of the parade.

It comes after attacks on the Protestant Fountain estate enclave in the city.

Shots were fired at police close to the walls on Wednesday night.

DUP leader Arlene Foster watched the Orange parade in her home county of Fermanagh and tweeted: “I hope everyone enjoys a family day out at their parades”.

- Press Association

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