Twelfth will remain a family day out: Orange Order

Twelfth parades
Twelfth parades

More than 3,000 police officers are preparing to help keep the peace over the Twelfth period, as both the Orange Order and PSNI appeal for calm.

Tensions are running high in a number of flashpoint areas, but the Grand Lodge of Ireland has emphasised that the most important day in the parading calendar will remain “a family day out”.

In a statement, a spokesman said: “The Twelfth has always been, and will remain, a day of celebration and a family day out.

“Those who oppose us seek to destroy this. They must not be allowed to succeed. Anyone who responds with violence to such provocation only does a disservice to our cause and undermines all that we stand for.”

This year tens of thousands of people are expected to parade in Orange Order demonstrations across the Province on Monday.

Although most parades pass off peacefully, the Parades Commission has imposed restrictions on more than 50 events deemed “sensitive”.

The Orange Order has branded the Parades Commission “discredited and inept” and members have picketed its headquarters to vent opposition to a number of recent determinations.

Meanwhile, there will also be a significant police presence in east Belfast where sectarian tensions have increased between communities in the Newtownards Road and Short Strand areas.

Mervyn Gibson, Orange Order chaplain, said: “It is our job to marshal the parades and we will. But we cannot do the police’s job to deal with any violence. We hope that no violence occurs.”

The PSNI also has the ability to call in reinforcements from other forces across the UK but commanders have stressed the move would be a last resort in “extreme” circumstances.