Derry peaceful parades ‘beacon’ for troubled areas

Derry sizzled today as the city hosted the biggest Twelfth of July Orange Order parade in some of the highest temperatures of the summer so far.

Sixty Orange Lodges and 43 bands paraded through the city centre as Northern Ireland’s flagship parade took place.

Thousands of people watched the main parade at lunchtime, which passed off peacefully.

More than 340 police officers were on duty in the city centre - including two 25-officer ‘Mutual Aid’ units - drafted in from police forces in England, Scotland and Wales.

Speaking to the ‘Journal’ during the parade, G District Commander, Chief Superintendent Stephen Martin, said other areas could learn a lot from the example set by the way parades are handled in the City of Culture.

“I think this city has taken major strides over the issue of parades and can act as an example and a beacon to other areas. I would encourage those who are struggling with parading difficulties to come and speak to those involved who are the architects of the accommodation which took place here as they try to resolve their difficulties and their issues.”

Chief Supt. Martin said the behaviour of the bands, the Orange Order and the spectators was “very good indeed”.

He said the trouble-free event took “months of planning and preparation” with discussions between all the people involved from the loyal orders to the city centre traders and local residents.

“It’s all about trying to establish an understanding of the event and what’s going to take place. It’s about approaching it with a sense of tolerance and respect and sometimes a little bit of give and take.

“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.”

Chief Supt. Martin said he did not envisage any difficulties as the Twelfth evening closes in.