Royal Black parades climax marching season
The loyal order marching season climaxes on Saturday, at six major Black demonstrations across Northern Ireland and in Donegal.
Members of the 17,000-strong Royal Black Institution will be on parade in Lisburn, Ballymena, Portadown, Loughgall, Castlederg and Raphoe (Co Donegal).
Upwards of 360 preceptories will be headed by more than 300 bands of a high standard, a number from the Irish Republic and Scotland – making it a highly colourful, dignified expression of loyalist culture.
In the biggest parade the 107 Co Down preceptories will parade at noon through the city centre from Wallace Park to Barbour Playing Fields. Districts taking part are Largymore, Lower Iveagh, Lecale, Castlewellan, Newry, Ballynahinch, Banbridge, Rathfriland, Mourne, Comber, Newtownards, Saintfield, Bangor.
The Co Antrim demonstration will be in Ballymena with 79 preceptories led by 75 bands. The 12.30pm parade begins at the Showgrounds passing through the town to Ballee playing sields. The six Co Antrim districts are Ballymena, Lisburn, Antrim, Ballyclare, Ballymoney and Larne.
City of Belfast Grand Black Chapter demonstration will be in Portadown, where 59 preceptories and 33 bands will take part. The 12.15pm parade will converge from the Seagoe end of Portadown, through the town centre to the Somme anniversary field at Armagh Road. A number of Scottish bands will head preceptories.
In Loughgall, where the Orange Order was founded in 1795, 60 preceptories from west Armagh and south and east Tyrone will be on parade at noon, with a similar number of bands. The districts are Summerisland (Loughgall), Primatial City (Armagh), East Tyrone, Killyman and Aughnacloy. The main speaker will be the Institution’s Sovereign Grand Master Millar Farr.
In Castlederg, 24 preceptories and bands (many in the pipe category) from Omagh, Castlederg and Strabane districts are a feature of the west Tyrone parade, which starts at 1pm.
The Co Londonderry demonstration of 30 preceptories and bands will be at Raphoe village, East Donegal, with a noon parade. Districts are Londonderry city, Coleraine, Raphoe and South Londonderry. A Black demonstration was last held in Raphoe in 2005.
• The Royal Black Institution presents three resolutions at the six demonstrations on Saturday. A religious motion asserts that the Institution is based on the Holy Bible and promotes Protestant Reformation teachings. The loyalty resolution reaffirms loyalty to the Queen, while the constitutional resolution remembers the supreme sacrifice of whose who died at the Somme on July 1, 1916.