Hundreds take part in Sunderland’s first Orange march

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HUNDREDS of members of the Orange Order held their first march through Sunderland city centre.

Representatives from branches across the North gathered in Burdon Road before parading through the city on Saturday afternoon.

Members of the Orange Order marching through Sunderland city centre.

Members of the Orange Order marching through Sunderland city centre.

Politically, the Orange Order has strong links to unionism. The Order sees itself as defending Protestant civil and religious liberties, while critics have accused it of being sectarian.

John Potts, from Sunderland, is deputy master of the Hebburn branch of the organisation and joined the marchers on parade.

Mr Potts, 63, who has been a member for 10 years, said: “We have held marches up and down the country and many of our members have even taken part in parades abroad.

“But we had never held one in Sunderland – until this weekend. A lot of our members are up here so we wanted to do something in the city.”

The march began in Mowbray Park before heading down Fawcett Street, High Street West, Market Place and Holmeside.

But the marchers presence was not entirely welcomed by Wearsiders.

Michael Morton was in the city centre with 18-month-old son Niall as the parade passed by.

“I hope it’s the first and last time it’s held here,” he told the Echo. “ The last thing Sunderland needs is something like this.

“We’ve moved on as a society and I don’t particularly want my son seeing this kind of thing in his home city.”