Belfast officials hope for family friendly July 12

July 9, 2013 at 1:23 AM
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BELFAST, Northern Ireland, July 9 (UPI) -- Officials in Northern Ireland's capital hope this year's Belfast OrangeFest will be a celebration of community and not a trigger for renewed sectarian violence.

The festival is scheduled for Friday, the Twelfth of July and the traditional day for Protestants to celebrate William of Orange's victory over his father-in-law, King James II, in the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. The battle cemented William's hold on the English throne.

Andrew Irvine, city center manager, said establishing the OrangeFest has been a "slow build," The Irish Times reported.

"What we want to see is people coming into Belfast from a cross-section of the community and enjoying a nice summer's day in a shared space," he said. "We want to build community cohesion."

Northern Ireland saw a revival of sectarian violence after the Belfast council voted in December to limit the number of days the British flag will be flown at city hall. The action triggered large protests by militant unionists.

In the past, July 12 was the center of the "marching season," a time of year when tourists were advised to avoid Northern Ireland.

A coalition of business groups planned to ask Tuesday that community leaders help avoid "contentious parades and related protests."

The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland has been touting July 12 in recent years as a family-friendly holiday. This year's entertainment lineup will include the Afrikan Warriors, dancers and acrobats who perform to African music, along with the more traditional bagpipers, Irish dancers and sash-wearing Lodge members.

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