Loyalist parades: Tour of the North set to go ahead in two weeks
One of the early highlights of the loyalist parading calendar is going ahead in two weeks’ time – albeit on a smaller scale than in previous years.
The Tour of the North in Belfast is set to happen on June 18, with the Parades Commission having just granted the go-ahead.
Spencer Beattie, county grand master of the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast, hailed it as a sign that “we are starting to see a small degree of normality returning to our capital city” after “18 months of absolute misery”.
He was speaking after a meeting of leading Belfast brethren on Wednesday night.
The Parades Commission then made its ruling on the parade this afternoon, giving it the green light, subject to a handful of conditions.
Mr Beattie said: “I tend to think our messaging for the whole summer will be around ‘please comply with the Covid regulations’.
“We’re going to be asking people to be responsible, and asking people to take on board the social distancing required, the masks required, et cetera.
“It’s quite a long route, so there’s quite ample space for everybody to come out and enjoy the procession..
“It’s good to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“And it’s good to see he regulations are relaxed in a way that we at least get a parade on the road.”
There was no application for any parade last June due to the Covid crisis.
The year before that, the applicants told the Parades Commission there would be 700 participants and 10 bands on the evening of June 21.
The 2021 application states there is expected to be 210 participants (although the commission determination lists 500 participants), involving seven bands.
The outward march begins at 7.30pm on Denmark Street, between the Shankill Road and Carlisle Circus.
It then proceeds north before returning at 9.30pm via Donegall Street, where the large St Patrick’s Catholic chapel stands.
The commission’s ruling says that the tour can go ahead subject to these restrictions; only single drum beats are to be played on certain sections of the route that it has deemed sensitive, and that these sections will also be closed to supporters.
Specifically, these sections are the area between the junction of lower Clifton Street and the Westlink, and Union Street and Donegall Street.
This basically covers the republican-dominated Carrick Hill area and the vicinity of St Patrick’s Catholic chapel.
The ruling also orders participants to have “due regard for the rights, traditions, and feelings of others in the vicinity” and refrain from any “sectarian” or “provocative” behaviour.
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