Derry should serve as an example to areas where parades end in violence, the area’s police chief has said.
G District’s Chief Superintendent Stephen Martin said the city has taken “major strides over the issue of parades”. He said the city “can act as an example and a beacon to other areas”.
He was speaking in the city on Friday duringthe Orange Order’s flagship parade in the North to mark Derry’s year as City of Culture.
“This city has shown that over the last several years and can act as an example to other parts of Northern Ireland.
“I would certainly encourage people to look at what’s happened in this city. I remember being a constable and indeed an inspector in this city at a parade when there was hundreds of pounds worth of damage sustained in serious disorder. Now these events take place without disorder with a reduction in tension,” he said.
Sixty Orange Lodges and 43 bands paraded through the city centre as large crowds of spectators looked on from the footpaths.
Many of the shops along the city centre parade route were closed for the entire day on what has been deemed a traditionally slow trading day by many traders. The shutters were down on Austins Department Store as they were on most of the shop fronts along Carlisle Road, although the Richmond Centre and Foyleside Shopping Centre were open for business as usual along with the city centre’s bars and cafes.
More than 340 police officers were on duty in the city centre - including two 25-officer ‘Mutual Aid’ units - with support drafted in from police forces in England, Scotland and Wales.
As an added security measure ahead of the event public bin inserts were turned upside down.
A police officer also confirmed that ahead of the parade officers removed a tricolour which had been erected overnight on a lamppost in the The Diamond.
As the parade got under way, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness tweeted that the new Orange Order banner leading the parade features Derry’s peace bridge.
“I like that,” he said.
The Orange Order organisers of the event in Derry said they were delighted to stage the flagship parade during “a very special year for the city”.