GLENGORMLEY’s annual Mini Twelfth parade passed off peacefully, despite attempts by some to stir up trouble before and during the event.
There was a heavy police presence in the town centre on Tuesday night (June 26) as members of Carnmoney District LOL No. 25 gathered for the official opening of the Orange arch on the Antrim Road.
Just hours earlier, in what has been seen as a deliberate attempt to heighten tensions ahead of the parade, the arch was daubed with republican graffiti.
Sometime on Monday night or early Tuesday morning vandals painted RIRA (Real IRA) and KAH (Kill All Huns) on the uprights supporting the arch, sparking fears of possible sectarian clashes at Tuesday night’s parade.
Carnmoney District Master, Albert Steele condemned the actions of the perpetrators and blamed republican elements for attempting to raise tensions in the area.
“The people who did this have no respect or tolerance for a differing viewpoint and it is a clear attempt to up the ante ahead of the Twelfth celebrations. Those responsible will not prevent us from expressing our cultural and Orange heritage,” he said.
Brethren from the local District were joined by six other Lodges and five bands as the parade, flanked by hundreds of supporters, made its way from Ballyclare Road, onto the Antrim Road and through the town centre.
As the marchers passed along Church Way and Church Crescent to Glebe Road West - a flashpoint area in previous years - several local residents staged a protest against the parade. A number of republicans, some thought to be dissident supporters from parts of North Belfast, stood with their faces covered and one had an Irish tricolour confiscated by police.
Mr Steele said Orange Order marshals had controlled the parade supporters, but criticised the police for not keeping republican protesters further away from the marchers.
“It went very well and I’m delighted that there were no major incidents, but I’m not happy with the way the PSNI were focusing on the parade and letting republicans walk about willy nilly at Church Way and Church Park. It seems to be that republicans are untouchable - they were shouting obscenities at the parade and taking pictures of the parade and our young supporters, but the police did nothing to move them back.”
Despite Mr Steele’s criticism of the PSNI, several local councillors who watched as the marchers passed Church Park praised all those who helped ensure there was no public disorder.
Full story and more pictures in this week’s Times...