The largest loyal order parade in the world will take place in Derry when up to 8,000 Apprentice Boys take part in the ‘Relief of Derry’ commemorations tomorrow.
Up to 145 bands will take part in the ‘Derry Day’ parade, the biggest standalone event in the calendar of the loyal orders.
General Secretary Billy Moore is looking forward to welcoming thousands of Apprentice Boys to the city for what he said would be a poignant commemoration of the lifting of the 1689 Siege in which thousands died by starvation and disease.
He said: “We are expecting roughly 145 bands along with their respective branch clubs comprising approximately 8,000 members.
“We believe it will be beneficial and rewarding for the traders in the town. I’m sure the shops, restaurants and bars will be happy to bring in a few extra dollars.
“We’ve always said that this is by far the largest single parade and we are pleased it commemorates an event to do with our city, the ‘Relief of Londonderry’ following the Great Siege of 1689 so it’s a very important day, a very poignant day. It’s a great day of celebration and commemoration. It’s got everything rolled into one.”
The August 1969 event was the very flashpoint that triggered the ‘Battle of the Bogside’ and led to the deployment of British troops on the streets of Derry at the start of the conflict.
And this weekend Derry’s nationalist community will celebrate that latter day siege and uprising against the state and its apparatus and those who led it. Yet it’s testament to the spirit of accommodation that exists in Derry that both commemorations are expected to take place with little or no rancour.
Mr. Moore said this did not happen by accident. “I think a lot of people have done a lot of hard work behind the scenes to ensure this parade does pass off peacefully. There’s a lot of unsung heroes, who people don’t realise put a lot of effort, a lot of time and a lot of energy into trying to sustain the accommodation that has been created. But this accommodation works well for our entire city. It means everyone in our city can welcome diversity and our city can be a city of diversity.
“It also means that traders can make some money from the many, many visitors that come here from throughout the United Kingdom and indeed we have people from Canada and members from Australia here. It’s a big, big day and something that very few other cities can boast about or actually even commemorate or celebrate,” he added.