Thousands march in Battle of the Somme anniversary parade

The Battle of the Somme Centenary parade took place followed by a re-enactment of the battle in Woodvale Park, with thousands in attendance

The Battle of the Somme Centenary parade took place followed by a re-enactment of the battle in Woodvale Park, with thousands in attendance

Thousands of people yesterday turned out to watch a dramatic re-enactment of the Battle of the Somme – as part of a day of centenary commemorations in Belfast.

David Hagan, Unionist Centenary Committee chairman said “more than 20,000 were on parade with many thousands watching the parade and many thousands more turning up for the enactment”.

A minute’s silence was held at the Cenotaph at Belfast City Hall during a wreath-laying ceremony.

Later sounds of replica canon resounded around Woodvale Park as men in replica World War One uniforms acted as troops going over the top of the trenches in the Battle.

The scene was being filmed for part of a movie about the Somme.

Mr Hagan said organisers wanted the enactment to show the “gruesome” reality of the battle.

He said: “We thought this was a great idea as we saw the carnage of what the battle was, where thousands of people died.

“It worked out very well yesterday and really brought the whole thing home.”

He said the Unionist Centenary Committee, the over arching body for the dedicated centenaries, have been in operation since 2011.

“Yesterday was our seventh,” he said.

The Battle of the Somme Centenary parade took place followed by a re-enactment of the battle in Woodvale Park, with thousands in attendance

The Battle of the Somme Centenary parade took place followed by a re-enactment of the battle in Woodvale Park, with thousands in attendance

“Literally as soon as one centenary was completed, we started planning the next. The organisers are made up of all groupings within the unionist community.

“Yesterday it was the turn of the 2016 Centenary Committee who hosted it.”

Mr Hagan admitted they had been “worried whenever the Republic were kicking off at 2pm”.

He added: “But everyone played their part to ensure everyone was safe including Republic of Ireland fans.”

The Battle of the Somme Centenary parade took place followed by a re-enactment of the battle in Woodvale Park, with thousands in attendance

The Battle of the Somme Centenary parade took place followed by a re-enactment of the battle in Woodvale Park, with thousands in attendance

“We are happy with how it all went yesterday and we were lucky with the weather and everything.

“The people on parade were a credit and everyone played their part.”

The Battle of the Somme Centenary parade

The Battle of the Somme Centenary parade