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Video: Orangemen march 'was peaceful'

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Orange Order march takes place in

Words: Lynn Cox

Video: Alan McGuinness

The controversial Orange Order march through Gillingham on
Saturday passed off without incident.

Around a thousand members of the Protestant organisation walked
through the streets of Gillingham on their first Kent parade.

There was no sign of a counter-march which was rumoured to have
been planned in other parts of the town.

The Medway Martyrs, an Orange Order group set up in 2007, were
the hosts of the event and they were supported by members of other
orders from across the country.

Orange Order march in Medway
Orange Order march in Medway

Before they set off from the Naval Memorial on the
Great Lines, members laid wreaths in memory of their members and
others who died during the both world wars.

Their annual gathering didn't cause to many delays for motorists
and police staged rolling police closures to more than a dozen

Organisers did promise a peaceful and unprovocative parade,
which saw people wearing orange sashes.

Two bands joined the march one at the front and another at the

According to rumours circulating earlier this week, protesters
were planning a simultaneous counter-march from The Strand, in Pier
Road, before a rally outside the Sunlight Centre, in Richmond Road,
but that never occurred.

A debate had been raging on the Medway Messenger website all
week, with about 200 comments - including those urging residents to
barricade their roads - but many people living in the towns lined
the streets and welcomed the parade.

In some roads those who took part in the march were met with
spontaneous rounds of applause.

Orange Order march in Medway
Orange Order march in Medway

After the parade, Chief Inspector Peter de Lozey
said: "Today's parade in Gillingham by the Orange Order went by
peacefully and without incident."

The Orange Order regards itself as defending civil and religious
liberties of Protestants, is best known for its parades in Northern

Ron Bather, Grand Master of Orange Lodge of England, said
afterwards he was pleased with how the march went and was happy to
have held his first Kent march in Gillingham.

He added: "There was a pleasant atmosphere, people did come out
to see and enjoy the parade.

He added Gillingham was chosen to "show support for the new but
pro-active lodge".

Medway Martyrs Loyal Orange Lodge 652 was formed with 14 members
in November 2007 - the first Orange Lodge in Medway since the
Second World War.

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