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Eight arrests made but Twelfth of July passes 'without major incident' in Northern Ireland

It comes after the emergency services experienced a much quieter 11 July than previous years.

Bandsmen and Orange Order members take part in an Orange Order parade in Belfast
Bandsmen and Orange Order members take part in an Orange Order parade in Belfast
Image: Brian Lawless/PA Images

THE PSNI HAS said that yesterday’s marches from members of the unionist community for the Twelfth of July “passed without major incident”. 

There were, however, a number of “minor” incidents which led to the arrests of eight people.

It comes after a major drop in callouts to emergency services over bonfires in loyalist areas on the Eleventh Night, down 40% on the previous year.

Assistant chief constable of the PSNI, Mark Hamilton, thanked organisers of events, community leaders, his officers and others for helping to make it a “safe and enjoyable day for many”. 

“We dealt with a number of minor incidents throughout the day and made a number of arrests but these did not detract from what was a peaceful day,” Hamilton said. “We are aware of some alleged breaches of parade determinations and these will be investigated accordingly.”

Twelfth of July celebrations - Belfast Source: Brian Lawless/PA Images

Thousands took part in the marches at various locations around Northern Ireland for the Twelfth, which commemorates the victory of King William of Orange over the Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. 

The largest of these marches took place in Belfast as members of the Orange Order walked the six-mile route in the city, and 18 demonstrations  in all took place yesterday.

The eight arrests yesterday followed a number of petrol bombs being thrown at police and the arrest of two teenagers on Thursday evening. 

The PSNI said yesterday that it will be investigating incidents of complaints about various materials, “some of which were clearly distasteful”, placed on bonfires.

A 52-year-old man was also arrested and charged with offences including criminal damage. He is due to appear at Lisburn Magistrates’ Court next month.

Twelfth of July celebrations - Belfast The parade in Belfast attracted the largest numbers. Source: Brian Lawless/PA Images

A controversial bonfire beside the Avoniel Leisure Centre in east Belfast was lit as part of the 11 July celebrations, according to the BBC. Belfast City Council had decided not to remove the bonfire. 

The council met after a contractor who was due to remove a bonfire from the Avoniel Leisure Centre earlier pulled out after warnings of possible violence. 

The PSNI had also warned of possible confrontation if the bonfire was removed and said in a statement last night that it had informed Belfast City Council that its intelligence pointed to the threat that elements of loyalist paramilitary group the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) “may seek violent confrontation” at the bonfire site in the car park of the Avoniel Leisure Centre. 

BBC News NI reported that the PSNI said in a letter to the council that they “could not rule out a risk from firearms”.

Bonfire organisers had said they could “guarantee no violence” if and when contractors arrived to remove the material, the BBC also reported. 

Assistant chief constable Hamilton said he “utterly condemned” the intimidation of contractors and said such intimidation “must not be tolerated”. 

Belfast City Council has now agreed to establish an all-party working group in an effort to achieve more effective management of bonfires. 

They also expressed a need for with other agencies on the issue of bonfires, including concerns around the involvement of paramilitaries in some cases.

With reporting from Hayley Halpin

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Sean Murray

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