The Parades Commission visited Derry on Wednesday to meet with local groups to discuss the future of parading in the city.
The newly appointed Commission members met with a number of groups, including the Bogside Residents Group, the Apprentice Boys of Derry, the City Centre Initiative and the Gasyard Development Trust.
Derry pioneered a new approach to contentious parades in the late 1990s when members of the local business community facilitated an agreement between the Apprentice Boys and the Bogside Residents Group to ensure peaceful marches in the city. Prior to the agreement, the annual August 12th demonstration by the Apprentice Boys had resulted in clashes and, on some occaisons, serious rioting in the city centre.
During the visit to the city, members of the Commission were given a tour of Derry’s Walls.
Donnacha MacNiallais from the Bogside Residents Group described Wednesday’s meeting as “positive.”
“It was a very useful meeting. Obviously this is a totally new Commission but its chair, Peter Osborne, served on a previous committee so he has some experience of the issues.
“In essense, the meeting was an opportunity for ourselves to inform the committee about the various processes that have been ongoing in Derry for several years at this stage,” he said.
Mr MacNiallais also said the residents group made suggestions to the Commission members.
“We put our views of the way forward and on the issues that are still there in terms of Derry. They listened and posed some questions. All in all it was a positive meeting and is part of our ongoing engagement with the Commission,” he said.
Billy Moore of the Apprentice Boys of Derry described the visit as a “fact finding mission.”
“The members of the Parades Commission visited the Memorial Hall and were given a tour of the hall and the exhibition we have there about our history and the history of the Siege. It was basically a fact finding trip to Londonderry by the Parades Commission.
“They were given a tour by our chief marshall, Philip Gillen, and, like most people, they found it educational and discovered aspects of the history of the Siege and aspects of the history and culture of the Apprentice Boys that they may not have been aware of previously. They were given the same tour as any group that comes to the hall,” he said.