Coronavirus: Twelfth of July parades planned as lockdown relaxes

image captionTwelfth of July parades take place every year in Northern Ireland to mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne

The Parades Commission is expecting more applications for band parades on the Twelfth following a relaxation of coronavirus restrictions.

Up to 30 people are now allowed to meet outdoors while social distancing.

Twelfth of July parades were cancelled across Northern Ireland in April.

Due to the easing, the Parades Commission said "band parade organisers have submitted new notifications of their intention to parade, with new notifications being received daily".

It comes after the attorney general told the Parades Commission that it has no legal powers to prevent bands from marching on the Twelfth, as reported by the Belfast Telegraph.

Dervock Young Defenders - a flute band in north Antrim - said it is planning to walk in ranks of three "so everyone will be spaced out".

"There will be marshals and traffic management, and there will be two deacons, making sure everyone is adhering to social distancing," band member Matthew Hagan told BBC News NI.

"We're going to be below the 30 people gathering number anyway so there's no reason why we can't be walking."

He encouraged people to "stay in their own homes and gardens - we'll bring the Twelfth to them".

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said it was aware of "discussions taking place" over Twelfth celebrations and that it will liaise with organisers, councils and others "to put in place an appropriate and proportionate policing support for any events".

image source, Pacemaker
image captionTwelfth of July parades usually take place across NI but were cancelled due to coronavirus pandemic

In April, Orange Lodge of Ireland Grand Master Edward Stevenson said the decision to cancel the Twelfth was in keeping with government health advice and following consultation with the Order's grand masters in England and Scotland.

Parades were scheduled to take place at 17 venues across Northern Ireland and also in Rossnowlagh, County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland.

Tens of thousands of people attend parades on the Twelfth, which is held every year to mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne.

Parades are usually held on 12 July but due to the Twelfth falling on a Sunday this year, it is being celebrated on Monday 13 July.

King William III - the Dutch-born Protestant better known as William of Orange or King Billy - defeated the Catholic King James II in County Meath in July 1690.

On 12 July, marching bands all over Northern Ireland parade through villages, towns and cities.

They then listen to speeches and prayers by senior Orangemen.

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