Ministers appeal for peaceful parades

The First and deputy First Ministers, as well as the Justice Minister, have appealed for a calm and peaceful atmosphere for parades marking 12 July.

Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness made the appeal in a joint statement on Sunday.

"The celebration of different memories, cultures and traditions in a respectful, dignified and peaceful manner has the potential to enrich our society,” it read.

“Equally, some may wish to protest and it is essential this is done in a way that is peaceful and does not undermine law and order.

Bonfires will be lit late on Monday to mark the ‘Eleventh Night’, where celebrations begin to mark King William of Orange’s victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

The bonfires have been a source of controversy in recent years, with damage caused to houses by the blaze on Chobham Street in east Belfast last year.

There have been a number of instances in recent years where effigies and nationalist emblems have been burnt on bonfires.

A major policing operation has been put in place to deal with any contentious parades as well on Tuesday.

Out of around 600 parades each year, a small minority have proved flashpoints for disorder.

A deal to resolve the region's most volatile Twelfth parading impasse - at the Ardoyne/Twaddell Avenue community interface in north Belfast - collapsed last month.

The area has been the scene of rioting on a number of previous Twelfths - with republicans and loyalists both having engaged in violence.

Violence has broken oput between nationalists and unionists in the Ardoyne area in recent years. Credit: Presseye

Away from the Twaddell dispute, one of the other main areas of concern this year - in the Castlemara estate in Carrickfergus - is actually linked to tensions within loyalist paramilitarism, rather than a parading dispute with nationalists.

However, the Orange Order have sought to abate any problems that may arise with alcohol this year by setting out plans to hand out over 21,000 bottles of water.

The bottles are emblazoned with the slogan “It’s about the battle, not the bottle,” in an attempt to keep the focus on the cultural theme of the celebrations.

A campaign focussing on th cultural aspect of 12 July has been launched by the Orange Order. Credit: Graham Curry Photography