Daily Mirror front pageImage copyright TRINITY MIRROR
News Letter front pageImage copyright NEWS LETTER

“It would have been no great surprise if this had been a difficult Twelfth,” reads an editorial in the News Letter.

“There have been months of bitter political polarisation since the fall of Stormont at the beginning of the year.

“But in fact it was one of the most glorious Twelfths in recent years.”

In previous years, the headlines on the morning of 13 July have not been so positive, but Thursday’s papers seem to be taking a collective sigh of relief this morning.

“Parades taking a step forward,” reads the front page of the Mirror, while a picture on the paper’s cover shows an Orange lodge passing a former flashpoint, St. Patrick’s Church in Belfast, without incident.

‘Unprecedented’

The Belfast Telegraph reports: “Police, Orange Order and church leaders hail ‘most peaceful celebrations in years'”.

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Image caption A parade passes through Bangor

Grand master of the Orange Order, Edward Stevenson, told the paper Wednesday’s event was the “biggest Twelfth in a generation,” and that unprecedented numbers had come out to enjoy the festivities.

“The 327th anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne will be forever remembered for the unprecedented numbers of people celebrating,” he said.

“The wonderful weather exceeded our expectations.”

The paper also offers a souvenir supplement capturing the colour and spectacle of every demonstration in Northern Ireland.

The Irish News carries a similar headline on page 4 – “Steps in right direction as parade hailed peaceful success”.

It reports on an Orange Order parade passing Ardoyne in north Belfast yesterday unopposed by nationalists for the “first time in almost two decades”.

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Image caption An Orangeman rests his eyes on a sunny Twelfth of July

Orange Order and nationalist politicians alike have praised the transformed atmosphere on the day.

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said local people were “relieved”.

SDLP MLA Nichola Mallon also welcomed the peaceful outcome: “It’s great to see people’s hopes rather than fears materialise for once.”

The paper’s Allison Morrison offers some analysis on the opposite page.

“Having reported on parades – and associated riots – for almost two decades, this was the quietest Twelfth in my career,” she writes.

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Image caption Three girls enjoy the Twelfth in the sunshine at Richhill

“For the Orange Order this is a successful outcome, and one they can be proud of, but for loyalism the issue of problem bonfires still sullies the celebrations.

“The bravery of hard-working firefighters prevented serious damage to property at a number of sites where towering structures were placed near to family homes.

“A racist banner about a Celtic footballer and a coffin bearing an image of the late Martin McGuinness, along with the familiar Irish tricolours and stolen election posters, all left a sour taste.”

‘Dark and menacing’

Also in the paper, a founding member of the DUP has condemned the use of the coffin effigy of Mr McGuinness which was placed on loyalist bonfires.

Orangeman Wallace Thompson described the display as “wrong”.

He said while bonfires were part of the whole tradition of the Twelfth, the atmosphere around some of the towering structures in Belfast was “sinister, dark and menacing”.

Away from the Twelfth, the Irish News reports on the death of “gifted” Belfast man Aaron O’Neill, who died on Monday evening from stomach cancer.

The 29-year-old, who worked as a sound-dubbing mixer for Yellowman productions in Hollywood, had worked on the likes of The Fall, Line of Duty and Game of Thrones.

Mr O’Neill’s brother-in-law, Jim Forbes, told the paper: “He was quiet and so smart.

“He didn’t talk much about his work but the house hasn’t stopped since he passed away, with people from Universal studios in America among those getting in touch.”

Image caption Police arrested a man on Tuesday morning but he was later released on bail

A separate tribute is paid in Thursday’s Mirror to six-year-old Donnacadh McGuire, who died while playing in the street in Londonderry on Tuesday.

His mother, Sarah McGuire, has given an interview to the paper, in which she describes how her “world has stopped”.

“Donny was an incredible wee boy, funny and adventurous, a little boy who knew no fear and lived every moment to the full.”

Police arrested a man on Tuesday morning but he was later released on bail.

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