Mini-riot ahead of triumphalist Twelfth parades

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The main anti-Catholic parades of the year are currently taking place across the north of Ireland. Although there is relatively little trouble expected for the ‘Twelfth’ this year, petrol bombs were thrown at the PSNI in west Belfast on Thursday night and tension remains high going into the weekend.

Petrol bombs were thrown at a police patrol on the Springfield Road in west Belfast. The PSNI said “a number of people had gathered” at a sectarian interface with Lanark Way and they had arrested two youths.

Other interfaces in Belfast and Derry were reported to be quiet.

Hundreds of marches by the anti-Catholic Orange Order are taking place today [Friday], rallying in 18 locations across the North. Up to 5,000 Orangemen are expected to gather in Tandragee, County Armagh, where speeches in support of the union with Britain will be delivered.

Some of the marches and rallies, all held to mark the anniversary of a Protestant battle victory in 1690, are broadcast live by the BBC, who consider them to be “cultural celebrations” rather than sectarian rallies.

Parade restrictions continue to prevent the most contentious marches from entering Catholic areas. In Drumcree last weekend, Orangemen marched to a police line as they marked 21 years since being barred from the nationalist Garvaghy Road. Orange Order members have held a token protest against the decision each Sunday since then. Portadown Orange Order district master Darryl Hewitt has said the 21-year-old protest will still continue every Sunday, as it has since 1998.

The main Orange parade through Ardoyne (pictured) passed off without incident earlier today. Another ‘feeder’ march received a new order barring it from a north Belfast street in an effort to prevent Orangemen parading at an interface.

A marching bands event to be held during the British Open golf competition in Portrush, County Antim is also causing controversy after a prominent golf writer said it looks “horrendously embarrassing” for the event, the golfing equivalent of Wimbledon.

Ewan Murray, golf correspondent for the Guardian and Observer newspapers, expressed concern about the planned event.

“There is naturally a comedic, ludicrous undertone to this in 2019 but when placed on the Open’s doorstep it is a horrendously embarrassing look,” he wrote in an article.

“American guests will probably look on with intrigue. What, though, of the thousands of Open fans from the predominantly Catholic Republic of Ireland?”

He added: “Twenty-one years on from the Good Friday Agreement, loyalists still mark William of Orange’s Boyne victory with anthems and bonfires, many of the latter featuring tricolour flags or effigies of the Pope.

“This is about as far from an epitome of social inclusion as you could find.”

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