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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Northern Ireland police chief hopes for a peaceful Ulster Covenant parade

Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable, Matt Baggott, has expressed his hopes for a peaceful Ulster Covenant parade.

Tomorrow the PSNI will be working hard to ensure that the Ulster Covenant parade takes place peacefully and in a way that brings credit to all concerned.

"I know that this is the wish of the vast majority across all communities and I would ask for the fullest co-operation with police in helping us to keep everyone safe.

I am grateful for both the political and local leadership that should make this possible."

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Ulster Covenant centenary: The parade

The Ulster Covenant parade is set to be one of the biggest demonstrations witnessed in Northern Ireland in recent times. An estimated 30,000 marchers are expected to take part.

  • The procession is scheduled to leave from Belfast City Hall - venue for the most famous Covenant signing in 1912 - at 11am.
  • Participants will them march along a six-mile route to the Stormont estate.
  • The centre piece of the Covenant commemorations will be a cultural festival staged in the grounds of the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont.

Orange Order's grand chaplain: ' We want everybody involved to have a good day'

Earlier this week, Mervyn Gibson, the grand chaplain of the Orange Order, said:

We would appeal that all our members show the usual dignity when on parade.

We are out to celebrate something that was actually the birth certificate of Northern Ireland. We want everybody involved to have a good day.

We want those who watch the parade, maybe not sympathetic to the political aspiration of being unionist, to also enjoy the parade and to see the significance that it has for the whole unionist community.

It's not about the Orange Order, the loyal orders even, on Saturday. It's about the whole community celebrating the Ulster Covenant.

He also called for respect for marchers, and said: "Certainly we will be appealing for calm on all sides and respect to be shown to everyone."

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Key restrictions on the Ulster Covenant parade

Saturday's contentious loyal order parade must adhere to a number of restrictions, when it passes potential flashpoints in Belfast, the Parades Commission ruled earlier this week.

  • Those involved in the part of the Ulster Covenant parade that passes St Patrick's Catholic church in the north of the city must only play sacred music.
  • The commission also placed the sacred music restriction on bands that will pass St Matthew's Catholic Church
  • A protest planned in the Donegall Street area should be limited to no more than 150 participants.

The restrictions came after St Patrick's, on Donegall Street, was the scene of dispute in July after a loyalist band was accused of playing provocative music outside the church.

Orange Order parade will mark Covenant centenary

Saturday's Orange Order parade is taking place to commemorate the centenary of the unionist proclamation against plans for Home Rule in Ireland.

It is set to be one of the largest parades ever held in Belfast, with potentially 30,000 marchers taking part.

Only a section of the parade will pass St Patrick's as it makes its way to join the main body.

The Orange Order estimates that around 2,000 people are scheduled to participate in that part of the event.

Late court bid over Belfast loyal order parade rejected

A late court bid to change restrictions on a contentious loyal order parade through Belfast has been rejected.

A High Court judge refused leave for a judicial review of measures imposed by the Parades Commission adjudication body on Orange Order marchers intending to pass St Patrick's Catholic Church in the north of the city tomorrow.

Drew Nelson (right) Orange Order Grand Secretary,with Rev Mervyn Gibson, Grand Chaplin
Drew Nelson (right) Orange Order Grand Secretary,with Rev Mervyn Gibson, Grand Chaplin Credit: Paul Faith/PA Wire

Earlier this week the commission ruled that bands could only play sacred music while going past the church, which was the scene of trouble over the summer after loyalist band members were accused of playing sectarian music outside it on July 12.

Some residents felt the measure did not go far enough and wanted a ban on the playing of any music near the church on Donegall Street, with bands restricted to a single drum beat.

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