30,000 join Belfast march

THOUSANDS of marchers took to the streets of Belfast yesterday to mark the ­centenary of the signing of the pro-Union Ulster Covenant.

More than 2,000 Orangemen from north Belfast lodges were surrounded by a heavy police presence as they marched towards City Hall, but proceedings passed off largely without incident.

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An estimated 30,000 people took part in the march from the City Hall to the grounds of the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont in east Belfast.

The route passed St Patrick’s Church, which was the scene of disorder after a band was accused of playing sectarian music outside it on 12 July.

However, Father Michael Sheehan of St Patrick’s said: “They marched with dignity down the road. I think a degree of respect was shown that hasn’t been shown before.”