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Thousands at Belfast Covenant parade

Sunday, September 30, 2012 - 01:25

Sept. 29 - Police in Northern Ireland mount major security operation for parade. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Police in Northern Ireland mounted their biggest security operation in 20 years on Saturday when 30,000 Protestants marked the centenary of one of the most historic events in a province scarred by decades of sectarian violence. Eight Protestant Unionist organizations, including members of the Orange Order, marched through Belfast to celebrate the signing of the Ulster Covenant by half a million of their ancestors, a pact opposing the introduction of devolved government in Ireland. The Parades Commission, the body that decides whether or not marches can take place, ordered bands accompanying the loyalist marches to play only hymns as they walked by the church. While three decades of turmoil between mainly Catholic nationalists and pro-British Protestants was largely ended by a 1998 peace deal, sporadic violence has grown in recent years and a far smaller march earlier this month incited three nights of rioting. Most parades across the province pass peacefully each year but violence often breaks out when marchers cross or pass close to rival communities, particularly during the divisive summer marching season which is nearing its conclusion. Sinn Fein, the former political wing of the Provisional IRA which now shares power in the local assembly with their former Unionist foes, said they were unhappy with the behavior of a number of bands.

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Thousands at Belfast Covenant parade

Sunday, September 30, 2012 - 01:25