The Orange Order’s traditional Twelfth of July commemoration passed off largely without incident in Derry despite five consecutive nights of rioting in the Bogside, Bishop Street and Fountain area not far from the parade’s main route.
Thousands of Orangemen from all over the North West descended on Derry for the ‘Twelfth’ this year as the city played host to the main county demonstration for the first time since the 2013 City of Culture year.
Hundreds of bandsmen participated in the City of Londonderry Grand Orange Lodge-hosted outward march from the Waterside, across the Craigavon Bridge, through the city centre and back to the ‘field’ in Wilton Park from 11.30 a.m., without incident.
On the return leg, when one Orange lodge and a small number of bands made their way through the city centre shortly before 6 p.m. there was a minor stand-off between nationalist and republican youths and loyalists and unionists who had gathered to watch the parade in The Diamond.
Members of the PSNI quickly moved to form a human cordon to prevent the nationalist and republican youths from coming into direct contact with the parading Orangemen and those watching the march.
Despite some jeering between the rival factions and a stand-off with police that lasted for the duration of about 10 minutes the Orangemen made their way through the town without any major disorder.
Only one person appeared to be arrested during the return parade and he belonged to the loyalist observers of the parade.
A small smattering of tourists gathered in The Diamond to watch what the Orange Order have been promoting over recent years as its annual ‘Orangefest’ cultural celebration and though most remained in the area the ‘Journal’ did observe a member of the PSNI suggest to one group that it may have been more advisable to view proceedings from Ferryquay Gate.
July 12 is the most important date in the calendar of the Orange Order and one of the most important in that of all the loyalist orders.
Originally celebrated as a commemoration of the defeat by the Williamites of Jacobite forces at Aughrim on July 12, 1691, under the old Julian calendar, the Orange Order had to commemorate the Battle of the Boyne instead when the old July 12 became July 22 under the Gregorian calendar in 1752.
The Battle of the Boyne occurred on July 11, 1690, under the Gregorian system.