Page last updated at 16:54 GMT, Saturday, 12 July 2008 17:54 UK

Orange Order on parade across NI

Thousands turned out to watch Orangemen parade through Belfast
Thousands turned out to watch Orangemen parade through Belfast

Thousands of Orangemen and supporters have been attending the annual Twelfth of July parades in Northern Ireland.

The parades mark the 318th anniversary of the battle of the Boyne in which William of Orange defeated King James.

The main demonstrations were at 18 venues, with Belfast attracting the most participants and spectators.

The Belfast parade left Carlisle Circus at 1000 BST, marching to City Hall for a wreath-laying ceremony and then to the field at Barnett Demesne.

There the gathering has been hearing the traditional platform pledges of loyalty to the Protestant faith, the crown and to the union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Outside of Belfast, one of the day's largest parades took place in Omagh, where more than 3,000 Orangemen and bandsmen marched through the town.


Watch highlights of the parade in Belfast

Sixty lodges from the six districts of west Tyrone took part, along with lodges from Larkhill and Airth in Scotland.

In County Armagh, more than 5,000 Orangemen marched through Tandragee, while tens of thousands of spectators enjoyed the sounds of 100 Lambeg drums.

The largest demonstration in the North West took place in Coleraine, where the gathering heard calls for the symbols of state to be cherished and an end to "attacks on the Protestant sense of Britishness".

For the first time in 16 years, more than 5,000 bandsmen and Orangemen paraded through Dromara, County Down.

The Independent Loyal Orange Institution, which split from the Grand Lodge of Ireland in 1903, held its demonstration in Portglenone, County Antrim.

An alternative way of celebrating the Battle of the Boyne took place at the Irish president's state residence in Dublin where President McAleese held her annual garden party. More than 350 guests from all over Ireland were attending.

The entertainment included performances by Irish army pipers, the Band of the King's Division of the British army and the Ballynafeigh School of Irish Dancing.

For those who prefer shopping to marching, the number of large retail units opening on the Twelfth has grown considerably this year. Supermarkets, including many Tesco and Asda branches, have remained open for the first time on the Twelfth.

The police have reminded drivers to take extra care on the roads over the holiday weekend.

A police spokesman said: "Last year (2007) 112 people lost their lives on the roads in Northern Ireland. While that's 14 less than in 2006, and the lowest figure recorded in 60 years, it still remains that many of these deaths and serious injuries could have been avoided.

"Our officers will be looking out for motorists who are driving too fast, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and driving while using a mobile phone."

318th Anniversary Battle of the Boyne Celebrations
Ballyclare Cloughfern, Larne, Sixmilewater, Antrim, Carnmoney, Killead, Staffordstown, Carrickfergus & Randalstown.
Derriaghy Glenavy, Aghalee, Lisburn, Magheragall, Ballinderry, Derriaghy & Hillsborough.
Cullybackey Portglenone, Ahoghill & Cullybackey.
Ballymena Ballymena District.
Broughshane Braid District.
Rasharkin Ballycastle, Bushmills, Rasharkin, Cloughmills & Ballymoney.
Tandragee Portadown, Richhill, Loughgall, Tandragee, Armagh, Lurgan, Killylea, Keady, Newtownhamilton, Markethill & Bessbrook.
Barnett Demesne Belfast Districts - No
Dromara Lower Iveagh, Rathfriland, Banbridge, Lower Iveagh West, Newry, Loughbrickland, Gilford and Bann Valley.
Portavogie Newtownards, Upper Ards, Holywood, Bangor.
Kilkeel Mourne District.
Newcastle Lecale, Saintfield, Castlewellan, Comber and Ballynahinch.
Kesh Newtownbutler, Lisbellaw, Brookeborough, Lisnaskea, Enniskillen, Ballinamallard, Kinawley, Glenawley, Lisnarick, Pettigo, Magherabuoy, Churchhill, Maguiresbridge, Garrison & Tempo.
Maghera Castledawson, Magherafelt, Garvagh, Kilrea, Tamlaght O'Crilly, Ballyronan, Tobermore & Moneymore.
Coleraine Limavady, Macosquin, Coleraine, and City of Londonderry Grand Lodge, comprising five Districts.
Benburb Pomeroy, Killyman, Stewartstown, Cookstown, Castlecaulfield, Benburb & Coagh.
Omagh Sixmilecross, Fintona, Omagh, Newtownstewart, Killen & Strabane.
Aughnacloy Annahoe & Fivemiletown.
Source: Orange Order

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