‘A proud day to be on parade’

Bros Cavan and Joe Watson from LOL 389 enjoying the Covenant parade in Belfast. INNT 40-423CON
Bros Cavan and Joe Watson from LOL 389 enjoying the Covenant parade in Belfast. INNT 40-423CON

HUNDREDS of Orangemen from the Carnmoney, Cloughfern and Sixmilewater Districts marched to Stormont on Saturday (September 29) to celebrate the centenary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant.

Around 30,000 people from across Northern Ireland and beyond were expected at the event, but it’s estimated that more than 100,000 actually turned out to mark the historic occasion.

District Master of Carnmoney District LOL No. 25, Albert Steele, said the crowd at Saturday’s parade had been “unbelievable”.

“It was a brilliant day, there were unbelievable crowds out and again we were blessed with the weather,” he told the Times.

“There were crowds the whole way from the city centre, right out the six or seven miles to Carson’s statue. It was just fantastic.

“It was really well organised and there were no problems at all. It was a very proud day to be on parade and to be celebrating the signing of the Covenant.”

Among those who attended Saturday’s celebrations was South Antrim UUP Assemblyman Danny Kinahan, who took part in a reenactment of the 1912 signing alongside his party leader, Mike Nesbitt.

“It was a really special moment to be part of reenacting the signing of the Solemn League and Covenant, especially when it was the Ulster Unionist Party that lead the anti-Home Rule movement that spawned saving Northern Ireland for political, cultural, religious and economic reasons,” he commented.

“It was a really special day seeing the parades go off with virtually no problems at all, setting an example to all as to how the decade of centenaries should be respected by all.

“Seeing so many Lodges and bands from South Antrim, all marking their respect to Carson’s statue as they arrived at Stormont really was incredibly impressive.”

Another of those who enjoyed the day of celebration was DUP alderman Billy DeCourcy.

“There was a great crowd out and it was a really good day. I’m glad that it all went off peacefully and there was no trouble,” the Rathcoole man commented.