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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 July 2006, 21:54 GMT 22:54 UK
Belfast march passes peacefully
Orangemen
The parade in north Belfast passed off without incident
An Orange Order parade through a nationalist area in north Belfast has passed off peacefully.

Minor incidents took place as the parade passed close to the Ardoyne shops but fears of widespread violence proved to be unfounded.

Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland welcomed the fact that the annual 12 July Orange celebrations had passed off peacefully in Belfast.

"I would commend the work carried out by communities," he said.

"I have said in the past there is no policing solution to parading issues and I am encouraged by the dialogue and commitment shown by both communities in working to find an acceptable solution."

It was the first time in recent years that the Army has not been sent in to help police the parade which has sometimes been followed by serious rioting.

Elsewhere in Belfast, there were reports of minor stone-throwing incidents in the Ormeau and Newtownards Road areas.

In Londonderry, there were disturbances in the Bogside and city centre where groups of children and youths threw stones and bottles at police.

One car was also hijacked in Fahan Street and set alight. There were no reports of any injuries.

Parades

Earlier on Wednesday, tens of thousands of Orangemen and supporters attended Northern Ireland's Twelfth of July parades.

The largest demonstration of the day was in Belfast and there were 17 main venues across six counties.

The Independent Orange Order demonstration was held in Portrush, County Antrim.

Delivering his speech at the independent demonstration, DUP leader Ian Paisley said Sinn Fein "were not fit for government".

RALLY SITES
Randalstown
Broomhedge
Portglenone
Ballymena
Broughshane
Ballycastle
Richhill
Belfast
Gilford
Bangor
Kilkeel
Maguiresbridge
Magherafelt
Coleraine
Castlecaulfield
Castlederg
Ballygawley

Mr Paisley also spoke of the sacrifice made by British soldiers at the Battle of the Somme and warned this generation of unionists would not capitulate.

"No unionist who is a unionist will go into partnership with IRA/Sinn Fein," he said.

"They are not fit to be in partnership with decent people. They are not fit to be in the government of Northern Ireland and it will be over our dead bodies if they ever get there."

Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy said Mr Paisley had "failed to show leadership" and was "appealing to the lowest common denominator within unionism".

The SDLP's Sean Farren said Mr Paisley's speech "may well have damaged any progress being made in Stormont talks".

The Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Robert Saulters, delivered his annual address at Ballycastle in County Antrim.

In it, Mr Saulters accused the government of "pandering to paramilitaries".

He also attacked the Parades Commission and claimed there was "no logic or consistency to its decision-making".

Lord Laird
We want people to come out and join us, and people who don't know what we are about to come and understand who we are
Lord Laird
Parade organiser

Parade organiser Lord Laird, dressed in a period Battle of the Boyne costume for the Belfast parade, said they wanted to make the Twelfth celebrations a fun day out.

"This is a day which celebrates our culture - we are proud of our Ulster-Scots and Orange background," the Ulster Unionist peer said.

"We want people to come out and join us, and people who don't know what we are about to come and understand who we are."

In Bangor, the town's lodge grand master, John Ballard, said other lodges from nearby towns had joined them to celebrate what was a special day for them.

"Not only is it the 316th anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne, it is the centenary of Bangor district lodge," he said.

The annual Twelfth demonstrations mark the climax of the Protestant marching season.

They mark the victory of William of Orange over Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

The Parades Commission was set up in 1997 to make decisions on whether controversial parades should be restricted.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Can Orange Order marches widen their appeal?



SEE ALSO
The Twelfth in pictures
12 Jul 06 |  In Pictures
Soldiers in barracks for Twelfth
12 Jul 06 |  Northern Ireland
Drumcree parade passes peacefully
09 Jul 06 |  Northern Ireland
Minor disturbance at Orange march
16 Jun 06 |  Northern Ireland
Agreement over contentious march
14 Jun 06 |  Northern Ireland

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