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Ulster Covenant parade marches through Belfast

Marchers in the Ulster Covenant parade marching down Belfast's city centre Credit: ITV News

The Ulster Covenant parade is passing through Belfast's city centre. Thousands of unionists have turned out to watch the march. They are being watched by thousands of police officers - today is biggest policing operation the city has seen in over twenty years.

Marchers in the Ulster Covenant parade marching down Belfast's city centre Credit: ITV News

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What is the Ulster Covenant?

The Ulster Covenant is a pledge made by almost half a million people from Northern Ireland on September 28, 1912, 'Ulster day'.

Those that signed the Covenant promised to reject Home Rule in Ireland and to remain within the United Kingdom. Here is an extract:

We, whose names are underwritten, men of Ulster, loyal subjects of His Gracious Majesty King George V, humbly relying on the God whom our fathers in days of stress and trial confidently trusted, do hereby pledge ourselves in solemn Covenant, throughout this our time of threatened calamity, to stand by one another in defending for ourselves and our children our cherished position of equal citizenship in the United Kingdom and in using all means which may be found necessary to defeat the present conspiracy to set up a Home Rule parliament in Dublin.

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30,000 to march in Ulster Covenant parade

Northern Ireland's biggest policing operation in 20 years is due to take place today as 30,000 Unionists march to celebrate 100 years since the signing of the Ulster Covenant.

Police and political representatives have been working hard behind the scenes to try and ensure the controversial parade route passes peacefully. The planned route:

  • 1015: Small, feeder parades set off from loyalist Sandy Row and Carlisle Circus (in North Belfast) to Belfast City Hall
  • 1100: Main march sets off for Stormont from Belfast City Hall
  • 1300: Parade arrives at Stormont
  • 1500: Religious service and speech by Orange Order Grand Master, Edward Stevenson
  • 1615: Belfast marchers parade back into the city, supporters and others return home by bus
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