Belfast parade protest avoids violent ending

July 20, 2013 at 5:33 PM

BELFAST, Northern Ireland, July 20 (UPI) -- A loyalist protest parade in Northern Ireland Saturday went off peacefully after a similar parade recently ended in violence and riots, officials said.

About 2,000 Protestant Orangemen marched in Belfast under heavy police scrutiny after a parade marking a loyalist holiday was cut short July 12 by the city's parade commission, controlled by Catholic separatists, prompting loyalist riots that rocked the city for five days.

The Twelfth of July is a unionist holiday marking a victory by William of Orange over the British King James II in 1690.

Orange organizers said Saturday's protest was meant to complete the Twelfth of July parade that ended in violence, the Belfast Telegraph said.

Both police and the Protestant protesters took steps to ease the tension.

Front-line officers patrolling the parade route were in plain clothes, not riot gear and parade walkers handed out leaflets to supporters warning away trouble-makers and encouraging non-violent protests, the Irish Times said.

Protesters carried signs reading: "Parades Commission criminalizes Protestants" and "Sinn Fein wish list: No flags, No Orange Marches, No Prods."

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