About 40,000 members of the Loyalist Orange Order in Northern Ireland will parade through the streets of Belfast and another 50,000 of them through other cities on Wednesday, July 12, in the province's greatest spectacular -- the Protestant Orange Day Parades.
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Background: About 40,000 members of the Loyalist Orange Order in Northern Ireland will parade through the streets of Belfast and another 50,000 of them through other cities on Wednesday, July 12, in the province's greatest spectacular -- the Protestant Orange Day Parades.
On Sunday, July 9, local orders throughout Belfast staged warn-up parades for the event, which celebrates the Protestant victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
The battle was fought on July 1 (the alternation of the calendar in the 18th century brought the anniversary date to July 12) when catholics and Protestants clashed on the banks of the river Boyne, causing the fall of ublin a few days later.
But the foundations of the Orange Order as it now exists probity date from the 18th century when Roman Catholic reaction produced such organisations as the "defenders", who waged guerrilla war against the Protestants for years afterwards.
Today, the Orange Order has 100,000 members in Northern Ireland, with overseas lodges in many parts of England Scotland and the Commonwealth -- many of which will be taking part in the Belfast Parades on Wednesday (July 12)
Many of the tunes to which the Orangenan march have folklore origins while others are also British Army regimental marches. The turnout is always impeccable. The bowler hat is uniform headgear and Lodge officials wear varying degrees of regalia -- with swords and halberds carried by escorts in major parades.
The parade on the Shankill Poad today (Sunday) was just one of many throughout the country and past of the preparations for Wednesday's spectacular. Streets have been decked out with the Union Jack and flags of Uleter. Many stores have already sold out of flags and are having to sent to the United Kingdom for more. Bonfires have been laid -- and until the eve of the big parades, when they will be lit, have become favourite playground for protestant children. Also and ways of ??? ob???
But as the protestants this week decked their streets in decorations the British army was also planning security operations. The official attitude of the army is that the parades are nothing to do with British troops, so the army presence is decidedly low-key.
Nevertheless, they army in keeping a careful watch on the parades and has a highly flexible plan in the event of trouble. There are 15,000 British troops in Northern Ireland, with about 5,000 of them based just outside Belfast -- backed by 200 armoured vehicles, helicopters and every available anti-riot weapon. A large force of Weesex helicopters is available to take reinforcements immediately to any of the 16-20 towns in which major marches will take place on Wednesday (July 12) if necessary.