Loyalists seek to reopen marching season

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The Parades Commission has received more than 140 applications for sectarian marches to mark ‘the Twelfth’, the anniversary of a Protestant battle victory over Catholics, despite the Orange Order advising its members not to do so due to the coronavirus.

Loyalists are also continuing to plan for giant ‘Eleventh Night’ bonfires despite previous promises the hate-filled events would only take the form of “home barbecues”, due to Covid-19 regulations. They have been erecting flags in south Belfast and other areas of the city as part of their intimidation and territory-marking.

Regulations in the Six Counties are changing rapidly, but currently allow for up to 30 people to gather outside, provided social distancing can be observed.

Those involved in the notorious Craigyhill bonfire in Larne have insisted that their fire is going ahead and said they had made 500 “kids packs” for distribution.

The Twelfth is being celebrated on 13 July, as 12 July this year falls on a Sunday. Some 140 applications for triumphalist marches have been made on the Parades Commission website, mostly by band organisations, and the number is rising rapidly. Several are for parades through nationalist areas.

Writing on behalf of Coleraine’s ‘Pride of the Bann’ Flute Band, loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson said that the Covid-19 regulations did not prohibit parading, as it is not explicitly mentioned in the legislation.

Tensions are continuing in Belfast despite PSNI insistence that sectarion violence is not suspected in the unexplained death of Noah Donohoe, a 14-year-old boy of nationalist background and mixed race. His semi-naked body was recovered from a storm drain in a loyalist area of north Belfast last weekend.

Trouble broke out at a north Belfast interface on Monday evening in the Alliance Avenue area, and three youth were arrested. It follows disturbances last week in the Waterworks and Westland estate area.

The Belfast 32 County Sovereignty Movement advised people to be “cautious and vigilant” in the weeks and months ahead “as the orange hatefest continues in its traditional ways”.

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