Apprentice Boys acknowledge upset over wearing of Parachute Regiment insignia

Graeme Stenhouse
Graeme Stenhouse

An acknowledgement by the Apprentice Boys that the wearing of Parachute Regiment insignia by members of a band at the 'Relief of Derry' parade on Saturday may have caused 'upset' among Derry nationalists has been welcomed by the SDLP leader Colum Eastwood.

Graeme Stenhouse, Governor of the Apprentice Boys, read a statement outside the Memorial Hall on Tuesday evening.

He said: "We had no prior knowledge of the band's uniform, or this incident, until the conclusion of the main parade on Bond Street.

"We recognise this may have caused upset to many in the nationalist community."

Mr. Eastwood said: "The statement from the Apprentice Boys acknowledging the genuine hurt caused by a band parading with Parachute Regiment and Soldier F insignia is a positive step that will contribute to healing in the city.

"It is welcome and demonstrates the kind of leadership that Derry and the North needs right now.

“Tensions in our city have been heightened over the course of the weekend.

"We all have a responsibility to take the poison out of a very difficult situation and work together to reconcile our communities.

"We have occupied the space of accommodation and respect before, there is no reason we can’t move to back to that ground again.

“There is no future for our city that excludes any community. Now we have to work hard to bring people together and sustain the spirit of reconciliation.”

In his statement Mr. Stenhouse addressed fears that the weekend's incident had undermined the accommodation around parades that has existed in Derry for the past twenty years.

"A lot of hard work has been contributed to ensuring peaceful parades over many years," he said.

"We wish to continue with this constructive dialogue to ensure that good will and understanding prevails.

"We also wish to ensure our city continues to lead in promoting reconciliation and is a model of respect to all communities," he added.