Clyde Valley Flute Band to march in Rathcoole on Lundy's Day

Talks between Bloody Sunday families and the Apprentice Boys remain ongoing following a decision by a flute band not to attend next month’s Shutting of the Gates parade.

Wednesday, 13th November 2019, 7:10 pm

Larne based Clyde Valley Flute Band were at the centre of controversy after members wore uniforms bearing Parachute Regiment insignia at the annual Relief of Derry celebrations in August.

The band has now notified the Parades Commission that it will take part in a procession in Rathcoole on December 7 and “will not be travelling to another town or place”.

Clyde Valley Volunteers Flute Band are the only band due to take part in the procession in Rathcoole, according to a listing on the Parades Commission website.

In August, several loyalist bands had threatened to cut ties with the Apprentice Boys in a show of solidarity with Clyde Valley.

This followed comments from the ABOD governor Graeme Stenhouse, who said his organisation recognised the potential upset caused to nationalists by the emblem worn by the band.

On Wednesday Mr Stenhouse told the Belfast News Letter that talks remain “ongoing” with the Bloody Sunday Trust following a meeting on Tuesday night.

Mr Stenhouse also said he has been working to “defuse” the situation.

“We’re trying to defuse things, calm everything down and remind our members of the standards that are expected when they come to the Maiden City and more importantly, remind them why they are in the Maiden City and what they are commemorating,” he said.

“We need to remember why we are in Londonderry in December and in August.”

Tony Doherty, chair of the Bloody Sunday Trust warmly welcomed the commitment from the Apprentice Boys to keep working positively and in collaboration with others to promote respect for diversity within the city, region and beyond.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood MLA said: "Hurt was caused in this city over the summer when the Clyde Valley flute band chose to march displaying the motif of the parachute regiment on their uniform. It was divisive and caused deep pain.

"The thoughtful and considered response from the Apprentice Boys in the aftermath was welcome and demonstrated the spirit of compromise, accommodation and respect that has allowed the Derry Model of parading to endure."

Sinn Féin's Elisha McCallion said: "I welcome this call from the Apprentice Boys of Derry and would echo the appeal for respect in the city at the march on December 7.

"The successful parading atmosphere in the city over many years was brought about through dialogue and respect and it is essential that continues, particularly in light of recent events in the city.

"I want to commend the Bloody Sunday families for the dignified and respectful manner in which they have approached this matter."