British troops kept watch behind barbed wire barricades in Belfast today as some 40,000 Protestants marched through the city to celebrate the victory of king William of Orange against the Catholic king James in 1690.
GV PAN FROM Pipers to British troops behind barbed wire barricade. (2 shots)
SV & CU Orangemen parade past British troops on guard (3 shots)
TV Parade continues through High Street (3 shots)
Initials EH/MR/BJ EH/MR/BB
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Background: British troops kept watch behind barbed wire barricades in Belfast today as some 40,000 Protestants marched through the city to celebrate the victory of king William of Orange against the Catholic king James in 1690.
Belfast was the scene of the biggest procession in the country; fife and drum bands led the "Orange Day" parade past the watchful security forces who were guarding the so-called "peace line" between the main Catholic and Protestant areas.
The parades - in which 100,000 marchers took place throughout Northern Ireland - are part of the celebrations organised annually by the Protestant Orange Order formed in honour of king William. Its members parade in their best Sunday suits, bowler hats, white gloves and purple sashes trimmed orange. Their determination to go ahead with the traditional displays, in spite of the explosive situation in Northern Ireland, aroused widespread concern. Many feared the parades could touch off the most violent collision yet between Protestants and the Catholic minority.
As a result, one of the biggest internal security operations in British history was launched today throughout Northern Ireland with 11,000 British troops, 4,000 policemen, and 3,000 volunteers of the Ulster Defence Regiment given the task of keeping celebrating Protestants and the Catholic minority apart. Helicopters kept watch overhead. Troops set up road blocks and searched cars and buses for weapons. Others stood guard on street corners in trucks and armoured cars as the parade went by. Before the march began, the army mounted a last-minute search for bombs around the city.
All shops, public houses, offices and factories have remained closed today. Catholics stayed quietly in their own districts. Protestant areas were aflutter with bunting and Union Jacks.
No major incidents had been reported by early evening.