Apprentice Boys parade passes off peacefully but: Traders hit again

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TRADERS in Derry’s commercial heart were last night counting their losses after business took a hit during the summer marching season.

Thousands of Apprentice Boys and band members paraded through the city centre yesterday for the annual Relief of Derry demonstration which had passed off peacefully at the time of going to press.

The head of the parade pictured on the city walls.

The head of the parade pictured on the city walls.

The police presence, although large, was noticeably more low key than in previous years. There were also fewer people gathered in the Diamond, either march supporters or Nationalists.

The day began with a security alert on the Walls at 7am which was later declared a hoax by British army technical officers.

Traders in the city centre reported a significant reduction in trade with a number of shops in Ferryquay Street and the Diamond closed for the day.

In a break with previous years, screens were not erected at the Ferryquay Street entrance to the Diamond, a flashpoint in the past. Traffic was also allowed to pass from Butcher Street to Shipquay Street as the parade passed through the Diamond.

The parade took more than two hours to pass through the Diamond as more than 140 bands marched.

In previous years dissident republicans protested in the city centre while the parade passed but there was no such protest yesterday.

Bins were sealed up in the city centre as part of the security precautions.

At the same time as the march passed through the Diamond a community festival organised as part of Feile 2012 was taking place in the Bogside and attracted a crowd of more than 600 people, significantly larger than the crowd of around 100 people in the Diamond.

Later on Saturday police arrested four men after a number of petrol bombs were thrown in the Bogside area of the city.