Separate parades take place in Armagh
LARGE crowds have turned out for a breakaway St Patrick's Day parade in the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland after unionists and nationalists disagreed over the official event.
Armagh was painted green yesterday as floats, bands and party goers flooded the streets during a parade organised by community groups in the city.
Nationalists reacted angrily after it emerged that the annual St Patrick’s Day parade in the city was due to be held a day early after unionists on Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council raised concerns about holding the event on a Sunday.
The alternative parade was later organised by West Armagh Consortium, which represents 11 community groups in the city.
Event organiser Stephen Fields said thousands took part in the alternative parade.
He said that marching bands, floats and sports clubs participated in the parade which snaked its way through the city to mark the national saint's day.
"I think we have been vindicated by the turn out," he said.
"The people came out in their thousands."
Flags representing 25 nations, including Ireland, Scotland Wales and England, were carried during the procession, which was led by the St Patrick's flag.
"Everybody was included," Mr Fields said.
"Our idea of cross community is to be inclusive not exclusive."
A parade organised by the council also made its way through the Cathedral City on Saturday, although it was reported that numbers attending were down on previous years.
A loyalist parade organised by Cormeen Rising Sons of William Flute Band was also expected to take place on Saturday.
Armagh is home to Catholic and Church of Ireland cathedrals which are both named after Ireland's patron saint.
Catholic Archbishop Eamon Martin was joined by his Church of Ireland counterpart Richard Clarke in the Shambles area of the city yesterday for music, prayers and refreshments to celebrate the life of the national saint.