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Unionists mark Covenant centenary

THOUSANDS of unionists paraded through the centre of Belfast yesterday to commemorate the centenary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant 'to fight Home Rule'.

The centre of the city was brought to a standstill for three hours as an estimated 25,000 participated in the parade and a celebration of unionist culture in the grounds of Stormont yesterday, following a re-enactment of the signing of the Covenant in Belfast City Hall where 100 years ago Sir Edward Carson launched the pledge.

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott said that the PSNI would be working hard to ensure that the Ulster Covenant celebrations took place in a peaceful atmosphere and in a way that brought credit to all concerned.

"I know that this is the wish of the vast majority across all communities and I would ask for the fullest co-operation in helping us to keep everyone safe. I am grateful for both the political and local leadership that makes this possible."

Politicians appealed for calm at the event, which was one of the biggest loyal order parades ever seen in Belfast.

Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson said: "Just as in 1912 people set aside any differences that they might have within the unionist community, today we're not here as Ulster Unionists or TUV or DUP, we're here simply as unionists."

On the Stormont estate Covenant exhibitions were presented with performances from the Ulster Scots Folk Orchestra, the Bright Lights Highland Dancers and the Co Antrim Fife and Drum band.

Sunday Independent