GB News will broadcast live from Northern Ireland’s annual Twelfth of July parades this year following the BBC’s controversial last-minute decision to drop their live coverage.
More than 500,000 people across 18 districts are expected to turn out for the historic parades, a huge celebration of unionist pride. July 12 is a public holiday in Northern Ireland.
The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, which runs the events, told the Belfast Telegraph that the BBC’s announcement on Friday was a “snub to our communities” that had caused “immense disappointment and frustration.”
GB News presenter and former First Minister of Northern Ireland, Dame Arlene Foster, who will lead commentary of the event, said she was “incredibly proud of GB News for stepping up to fill a void left by the national broadcaster.”
She added: “One of the reasons I joined GB News was to bring a better understanding of Northern Ireland life and culture to a wider UK audience. GB News stands for inclusion, of all regional voices, and the Orange Parades are core to our voice in Northern Ireland.”
GB News will focus on the largest of the Orange Parades, in Armagh, with Northern Ireland correspondent Douglas Beattie on the ground to explain the patriotism, pageantry and colour of the processions.
Douglas said: “The BBC has huge resources so it’s a challenge to mount this broadcast at such short notice, but that makes it even more exciting. And as we proved with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, you don’t need to be the biggest broadcaster to win viewers’ hearts.”
He added: “Edited highlights are never the same – you really need live coverage to capture the immediacy, passion and emotion of the Orange Parades, so that’s what we’ll deliver.”
The Orange Order described the decision by the BBC not to provide live TV coverage of Twelfth of July celebrations in Belfast as “devoid of logic”.
Unionist politicians have reacted angrily to the decision not to resume the live programming while the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland described it as “immensely disappointing”.
Tens of thousands of people attend parades on the Twelfth every year to mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James.
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