Twelfth parades in NI cancelled due to pandemic

Northern Ireland’s loyalist Twelfth of July parades this summer have been cancelled for the first time since the Second World War due to coronavirus, the Orange Order said.

Social distancing rules and restrictions on the gathering of people during the pandemic were to blame.

The Twelfth marks the culmination of the loyal order marching season and normally attracts thousands of Orange lodge members, bandsmen and onlookers.

It celebrates the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Dutch-born Protestant leader King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James the second in Co Meath.

Edward Stevenson, Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, said: “It is with regret that I must cancel the 2020 Boyne anniversary parades.

“In the face of the growing crisis surrounding coronavirus, it is in the best interests of our members, their families and the wider community that this decision has been made.

“In the current circumstances, the gathering of hundreds of thousands of Orangemen and women, together with their accompanying bands and spectators, would not be responsible.

“I appreciate that our culture and traditions are very much a way of life for the Orange family, however in light of the current situation we must prioritise the safety of not only our members, but of the entire community.”