Celebrations mark 100 years of Northern Ireland

Celebrations mark 100 years of Northern Ireland

While political deadlock remains, people were upbeat and relaxed at the centenary event, as they fanned out across the grounds of Stormont to celebrate the past, present and future of Northern Ireland.

The Grand Master of the Orange Order, Edward Stevenson, opened proceedings by telling the crowd: From its earliest days, Northern Ireland had to face turbulent times and very many challenges. He said he was cheered when he promised that Northern Ireland will remain an integral part of the UK in the years to come.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the Democratic Unionist Party leader, was among many unionist politicians who joined the parade.

He told the PA news agency that the lack of a functioning executive, which his party has prevented from forming, did not mean that Northern Ireland could not be celebrated.

We have lots to celebrate in Northern Ireland. We've come through adversity in the past and faced it down. We are looking to build for the future. We want to see Stormont restored, but that means restoring Northern Ireland's place in the United Kingdom. We are here to celebrate 100 years of Northern Ireland. He said that we are proud of what has been achieved in that century and that we are looking forward to the future.

Ulster Unionist party leader Doug Beattie said it was important to separate the celebration of Northern Ireland's history from the current political deadlock at Stormont.

He said that we have to separate that slightly from the political ebbs and flows of this place. We have had many ebbs and flows as far as Stormont is concerned, and we need to separate one from the other. The celebrations to mark the creation of Northern Ireland in 1921 took place after the Covid-19 Pandemic postponed the celebrations last year.

Members of the Association of Loyal Orangewomen of Ireland, the Junior Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, the Royal Black Institution and the Apprentice Boys of Derry attended the parade.