The Twelfth: Main Belfast parade draws large crowds

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There were large crowds for the main Belfast Orange parade despite damp conditions.

The procession left Belfast Orange Hall, at Carlisle Circus, at the traditional time of 10am.

The beginning of the July 12 2014 March leaves Carlisle Circus in Belfast at 10am By Ben Lowry

The beginning of the July 12 2014 March leaves Carlisle Circus in Belfast at 10am By Ben Lowry

Orangemen and women from the Sandy Row had been due to lead this year’s parade in the capital city.

But the Ligoniel Lodges and their bands were placed at the head of the parade in protest at the decision to bar their return route along the Crumlin Road.

Spencer Beattie, deputy Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast, said: “We trust the crowds spectating will give them a warm welcome as they make their way to the field and back.”

The parade made off from Clifton Street to Donegall Street, Royal Avenue, and Belfast City Hall, where a wreath laying ceremony took place at the Cenotaph to remember those who served in two World Wars and in the security forces during the Troubles.

Orangemen and women representing nine districts, and around 60 bands, then progressed towards Shaftesbury Square and the Lisburn Road and on towards Balmoral Avenue and the Field at Barnett Demesne.

Speaking ahead of the march, the Orange Order said: “As usual, a large Scottish contingent will travel to the capital to both participate in and spectate at the procession.”

Platform proceedings at the Field commence at 2.45pm and the chair for the afternoon was the County Grand Master, George Chittick.

It was raining when the parade was due to return to the city centre at 4.15pm.

The City Hall was illuminated orange and purple prior to dawn and will be again at dusk on Saturday.

Shops in the city centre were open from midday to 4.30pm. At Marks and Spencer, business seemed light in the late afternoon.

The attached video clip shows the early stages of the parade in Belfast city centre.