French mayor among those at Ulster Division parade

The Mayor of Ards and North Down Council, Deborah Girvan, and Thiepval Mayor Max Potie lay wreaths at the war memorial in Newtownards
The Mayor of Ards and North Down Council, Deborah Girvan, and Thiepval Mayor Max Potie lay wreaths at the war memorial in Newtownards

The mayor of a French region which has become a byword for the slaughter of World War One joined ranks of Orangemen at a parade over the weekend.

Max Potie, mayor of Thiepval in the north of the country, was the guest of honour as a string of lodges embarked on a march from Conlig – on the southern side of Bangor – into Newtownards.

The Orange Order said the march was to commemorate the Battle of the Somme, and that the parade was “symbolising the route taken by the 36th Division a century ago when leaving Clandeboye Estate en route to the battlefields of France”.

Clandeboye Estate had been used as a training ground for the troops, and the Ulster Tower at Thiepval – erected after the war in honour of the efforts of Ulster troops – mimics Helen’s Tower on the estate.

Grand Master Edward Stevenson was among those present at the Saturday event, which began at about 7pm.

Seventeen bands were scheduled to take part on the Parades Commission website.

The parade halted briefly at the Newtownards War Memorial for the laying of wreaths and silent tribute as a mark of respect, followed by a religious service in Londonderry Park, not far from Strangford Lough, which included an address by historian Dr David Hume.