Great to see a parade in July through Belfast city centre that does not cause divisions, only celebrations, draws the crowds and is a truly international event.
It must also be the first occasion when uniformed members of Óglaigh na hÉireann (meaning the Irish Defence Forces, not a paramilitary organisation), namely crew from the Irish Navy yacht LE Creidne, marched in formation to commands as Gaeilge from their officer (a Lieutenant) in Belfast City Centre, from the Harbour Commissioners Office across the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge and into East Belfast.
They marched in front of a band formed of Sea Cadets from Britain, who played “It’s a long way to Tipperary” at one stage. As their parade came to an end in the car park outside the SSE (Odyssey) Arena, the only tricolour to be seen (and it was non-contentious) was the one on the former Air Corps Alouette III helicopter.
The aircraft is now in possession of the Ulster Aviation Society and is normally kept at the large hangar at the Maze, where there was once an RAF base. They also brought along a Spitfire and both provided a great attraction for the children, as well as raising funds for the Society. They carried out a similar exercise at the Balmoral Show in May.