Orangemen set to march to mark July 12 in Northern Ireland

Hundreds of parades will take place across Northern Ireland today as the faithful Protestant orders celebrate July 12.

On Monday evening, around 250 bonfires were lit in Loyalist communities across the region to usher in the main date of the parade calendar.

Police said they were gathering evidence after receiving a number of complaints about election posters and effigies placed on bonfires.

The Twelfth Parades, organized by the Orange Order, commemorate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

The Orange Order parade through the village of Hillsborough, Co Down, as part of 12th of July celebrations (Niall Carson/PA)

The battle, which took place on the River Boyne north of Dublin, saw Protestant King William of Orange defeat Catholic King James II to secure a Protestant succession to the British crown.

Thousands of Orange Lodge members march through the summer months to mark William’s Victory and other key dates in Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist culture.

These celebrations culminate the Twelfth – the anniversary of the Boyne encounter.

The routes of some Orange parades have become intense sticking points during the unrest, often resulting in rioting and widespread violence.

12th of July celebrations – Belfast
There will be 573 loyal order parades on July 12 (Liam McBurney/PA)

Disputes generally centered on whether or not Orange Lodges should be allowed to march in Nationalist areas.

While Orangemen insisted they had the right to march on public roads following long-established traditional routes, nationalist residents protested what they said were manifestations of sectarian triumphalism crossing their neighborhoods.

The number of hotspots has decreased significantly over the years of the peace process.

The fires of the Battle of the Boyne
Last year’s huge ‘Eleventh Night’ bonfire in Craigyhill, Larne (Niall Carson/PA)

The build-up to this year’s twelfth was low-key and did not experience the levels of tension and rancor associated with previous years.

On July 12, there will be 573 Loyal Order parades. Of these, 33 take routes deemed sensitive.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) predict that the twelfth will be their busiest and most resource-intensive day of the year.

There will be 2,500 police on duty on the 12th, about a third of the PSNI’s strength.

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