GB NEWS will broadcast live coverage of Northern Ireland’s annual Twelfth of July parades this year after the BBC announced last week that it would not be broadcasting live at the Belfast parade.
The BBC said it made the decision "after careful consideration," and said it would instead air an evening hour-long highlights programme featuring events at eight locations across Northern Ireland.
More than 500,000 people across 18 districts are expected to turn out for the 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.”
It has also welcomed the announcement by GB News that it would be broadcasting coverage of the parades.
Grand Master Most Wor. Bro. Edward Stevenson said the move "is very welcome indeed."
"Live coverage of the Twelfth is very important to so many people, particularly those who are unable to attend parades for a range of reasons.
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.”
“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 has said it 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.
“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 by the BBC.
Gregory Campbell DUP MP of East Londonderry said the BBC "has a multitude of outlets and huge resources at its disposal, so the only obvious reason for this was a lack of will to cover a significant event."
The Twelfth parades mark the victory of Protestant King William of Orange over Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne, north of Dublin, in 1690 - a triumph that secured a Protestant line of succession to the British Crown.