Families dressed up for the occasion.

Unionist parade passes off peacefully

Thousands of unionists have marched peacefully through Belfast to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the Ulster Covenant.

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Councillor accuses unionist bands of trying to heighten tensions

Sinn Fein councillor Niall O'Donnghaile has criticised unionist bands of trying to heighten sectarian tensions in the east of Belfast during today's Orange Order march.

Orange Order bands played 'The Sash' as they passed St Matthew's Catholic Church in the Short Strand, east Belfast.

"This is deeply unfortunate, although not entirely surprising given the record of the Loyal Orders and associated bands in this part of the city," he said.

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Orange Order members arrive at Stormont in Belfast

Young Lambeg drummers welcomed Orange Order members as they arrived at Stormont in Belfast.
Young Lambeg drummers welcomed Orange Order members as they arrived at Stormont in Belfast. Credit: PA

Orange Order members arrived at Stormont in Belfast, during a huge loyal order parade to mark the centenary of the signing of the pro-Union Ulster Covenant.

An estimated 30,000 marchers will take part in the Orange Order event, which is seeing a massive cultural festival in the grounds of the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont in east Belfast, held to remember the 1912 proclamation against plans for Home Rule in Ireland.

Orange Order members arrived at Stormont in Belfast.
Orange Order members arrived at Stormont in Belfast. Credit: PA
Orange Order members arrived at Stormont in Belfast.
Orange Order members arrived at Stormont in Belfast. Credit: PA

Unionists march through Belfast

Thousands of unionists have taken part in a parade to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant. Police are on high alert as the march will pass by a number of potential flashpoint areas in north and east Belfast.

A huge union flag was hoisted above Belfast's City Hall and hundreds of bands marched through the city centre and towards Stormont.

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Orange Order play controversial song past Catholic Church

The Orange Order parade passing St Mathew's Church Credit: ITV News

The Orange Order have played 'The Sash' as they passed St Matthew's Catholic Church in the Short Strand, east Belfast, defying an ban on sectarian music imposed by the Parades Commission.

Rioting occurred in North Belfast in August after an Orange Order ban played a song mocking those that died in the Irish Famine as they passed St Patrick's Church in North Belfast.

The Parades Commission ruled that the march could pass St Matthew's and St Patrick's on the condition they played only sacred music.

Why is the Ulster Covenant parade route controversial?

The Ulster Covenant for the nationalist community is a reminder of the partition of Ireland. The Ulster Covenant parade passes several Catholic churches and is close to areas were there have been violent protests.

  • St Patrick's Catholic Church, near Carlisle Circus in North Belfast
  • St Matthew's Catholic Church in Short Strand, in East Belfast

During the 12th July parade, an Orange Order band were filmed outside St Patrick's playing a sectarian tune mocking those that died during the Irish Famine. As a result they were banned from playing music during a subsequent parade in August.

The Orange Order ignored the ban and played anyway, sparking riots that left 67 police officers injured. 150 residents will be protesting outside St Patrick's Church today.

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