Northern Ireland

St Patrick's parades get under way across NI

Thousands of people have taken part in St Patrick's Day parades across Northern Ireland.

In Belfast, the main parade left City Hall at 12:00 GMT and made its way to Custom House Square where there will be a free concert.

In Downpatrick the celebrations began on Tuesday, but on Saturday the Celebration of St Patrick begins at the St Patrick Centre.

A concert in St Patrick's Square began at 13:00 GMT.

In Londonderry, the Voyage of Discovery themed parade also began at 13:00 GMT.

More than 900 community and voluntary groups are taking part.

In the Republic of Ireland, the largest parade will be held in Dublin.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said St Patrick's Day was a time for Irish men and women around the world to "celebrate Irishness" and "celebrate our identity".

In Belfast, Sophie Habibis from the X Factor and the Red Hot Chilli Pipers took to the stage at Custom House Square.

Lord Mayor of Belfast Niall O Donnghaile hailed the event as a huge success.

"What I was looking forward to the most was the work of youth groups, community groups, church groups all over this city, and beyond, that have been ploughing away to showcase their talent, their creativity, their culture," he said.

"And it's a great display of the cultural wealth and make-up of this city.

"I'm delighted to see the East Belfast Mission's Irish language class carrying their bi-lingual banner.

"This is hugely significant and long many it continue."

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