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15.54 12 Jul 2019


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12th of July celebrations are underway in Northern Ireland with more than half a million people expected to take to the streets.

Throughout the day, 18 parades will take place across Ulster with some in every county.

Armagh will once again host the biggest twelfth gathering in the village of Tandragee.

The parades are seen by some members of the Catholic nationalist community in the North as a provocative display of triumphalism.

The majority of last night's bonfires went off without disturbance, and Archbishop Eamonn Martin is calling for peace today:

"These are all qualities that we continue to need in our country at this time. Peace, pardon, reconciliation, forgiveness. That would certainly be my appeal at this time, not just to our political leaders but to all our people. This tends to be a time where we lapse back into our sectarianism and the things that divide us."

People watch from hotel rooms an 11th night Bonfire in the Sandy Row area of Belfast, as hundreds of bonfires were set to be lit at midnight, as part of a loyalist tradition to mark the anniversary of the Protestant King William's victory over the Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

Mervyn Gibson - the Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland - says a large number of visitors are expected from other countries:

"Over recent years we've noticed lots of people from Italy, from France, from Germany, who are coming over to see what the parade is all about. I think they're called culturally curious. They come over to enjoy the day and by all reports, they have indeed. We think it has increased and will increase again this year."

Main image: Members of the fire service work to contain an 11th night Bonfire in Cluan Place, Belfast, as hundreds of bonfires were set to be lit at midnight, as part of a loyalist tradition to mark the anniversary of the Protestant King William's victory over the Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. 11/07/2019. Brian Lawless/PA Wire/PA Images.

 


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