Organisers of the annual Mini Twelfth parade in Glengormley have appealed for everyone taking part in the event to be on their best behaviour.
More than 350 Orange Order brethren and bandsmen are expected at this year’s parade, which is due to take place on Tuesday, June 25.
Brethren from the five district lodges will be joined by Orangemen from visiting lodges for the parade. They will be accompanied by seven bands and, for the first time, Lambeg drummers. Hundreds of supporters are expected to line the streets and follow the parade.
The event is organised by Carnmoney District LOL No. 25, and Worshipful District Master Albert Steele is hopeful that the parade will pass off peacefully and will mark a positive start to this year’s East Antrim Combine Twelfth celebrations, which will be held in Glengormley in July.
“We’ve had a bigger interest this year because of the Twelfth being here, and we want it to go off peacefully,” Mr Steele told the Times.
“This is the start of the lead up to the Twelfth day, so I hope that it goes well and everyone enjoys themselves and everyone behaves themselves. We don’t want any problems that could have a knock on effect on the Twelfth day.”
The parade will form up at Glengormley High School, Ballyclare Road at 8pm before making its way into the town centre for the official opening of the Orange arch.
The arch, which has been a feature in the town centre every summer for the past 30 years, will be officially opened by the Orange Order’s Co Antrim County Secretary, Billy Thompson.
Bandsmen and brethren will then make their way down the Antrim Road and turn into Church Way - a part of the route that has proved contentious, with trouble having flared in previous years between nationalists and republicans opposed to the parade and loyalist supporters of the march.
The parade and its followers will move along Glebe Road West, onto Carnmoney Road, through Queens Park and back onto the Ballyclare Road where marchers and supporters will disperse.
Meanwhile, UUP councillor Mark Cosgrove has said a leaflet distributed by a group calling itself the ‘Greater Glengormley Residents Collective’ ahead of the raising of the Orange arch last Tuesday (June 11) was an attempt to heighten community tensions in the area.
The leaflet, distributed to homes in the town, claimed that the “vast majority” of people in Glengormley are opposed to the Orange arch, which it branded “an open expression of sectarianism”.
A small handful of republican protesters gathered in the town centre ahead of the arch being raised, calling for it to be relocated, while a larger group of loyalists held a counter-demonstration in support of the Orange Order.
There was a heavy police presence in the town, but both demonstrations passed off peacefully.
A PSNI spokesperson confirmed that there were no arrests made.