Confrontation marks ‘the Twelfth’

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The annual Twelfth of July parades, the highlight of the summer marching season by the Protestant Orange Order, passed with relatively little incident this year despite the weekend of bonfire mayhem which preceded it.

The organisation holds huge marches every year to mark a victory by the forces of the Protestant King William of Orange over the Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

Due to Covid-19, the normal 18 main events were replaced by more than 100 small local parades in a number of cities, towns and villages, resulting in lower tensions than usual.

However, residents living close to Belfast city centre were subjected to sectarian abuse by aggressive loyalists who were directed towards the nationalist area by parade organisers.

Householders in several streets were fearful of leaving their homes on Monday as loyalist crowds moved through the mainly nationalist streets.

There were shocking scenes as residents were subjected to abuse, while one woman in her eighties was screamed at by a loyalist as he passed her home.

A spokesperson for the Falls Residents Association said hundreds of revellers came through the enclave from the nearby loyalist Sandy Row area.

The crowds antagonised residents, waving flags and chanting sectarian songs as well as urinating in the street and vomiting on people’s property.

A pensioner was also left shaken as a intoxicated man screamed sectarian abuse in her face.

“This is absolutely unacceptable in 2021,” said West Belfast Sinn Féin representative Fra McCann.

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