Loyal orders to be invited to meet council over outsiders ‘causing hurt and offence’ at Derry parades

The loyal orders are being invited to engage with the local council over the issue of outsiders travelling to Derry to ‘cause hurt and offence’ during major loyalist parades in the city.
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The invitation was issued after reports of incidents during the Apprentice Boys’ Relief of Derry parade on August 12.

The matter was raised at Council’s September Governance and Strategic Planning Committee meeting.

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Members were advised of the outcome of a meeting with the Apprentice Boys in March that was held after councillors raised concerns about the sale of Parachute Regiment flags, littering, urination and the singing of sectarian songs by some taking part in ‘Derry Day’ in 2022.

The Apprentice Boys marching on the Derry Walls during a previous parade in the city.The Apprentice Boys marching on the Derry Walls during a previous parade in the city.
The Apprentice Boys marching on the Derry Walls during a previous parade in the city.

Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson said: “During the summer recess there was another Apprentice Boys parade. There were a number of incidents that caused widespread anger within our community, not least in the Waterside. It is something that we had hoped was going to be a thing of the past.

“But if there are people coming to our city intent to cause hurt, intent to cause offence, it needs to be addressed, and it is only going to be addressed through dialogue.

“I'm disgusted at what happened on August 12 this year in our city and I have no doubt that many people in the Apprentice Boys will feel equally disgusted and it needs to be addressed.

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“So I'm going to propose that we write to the Apprentice Boys and arrange a follow-up meeting because we can’t leave this. There are numerous parades towards the end of the year and we can't leave it until the parades season next year,” he said.

SDLP Councillor Brian Tierney said: “Over the years I have attended meetings with the Apprentice Boys in various different capacities, always after a march, be it with Bloody Sunday families, with our own political party or with the council, on this particular one.

“They are all reacting to something that has happened at a particular march, be it Soldier F banners, or the symbol on the sleeves of a particular band, or as Councillor Jackson is suggesting, what happened on August 12 this year.”

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Colr. Tierney said he believes the Apprentice Boys want to show off Derry ‘in the best possible light’.

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"I genuinely believe that the organisers of these parades are as fed up as we are with having to attend these meetings about incidents that happen at the parades and I genuinely believe that they would welcome any support that we can offer or any engagement that we can offer in the lead up to these events as opposed to in the aftermath.”

The SDLP councillor said engagement should continue.

"I have no idea how many people the Apprentice Boys bring to the town every time they parade but it is a significant number and the incidents we see happen year after year they need to get a hold on,” he stated.

He added: “I don’t think the Apprentice Boys want to see that continue because it is only creating havoc for them and it is only running down what they see as a positive symbol of their culture and that's not - I would imagine - where they want to be.

“I think this is a good proposal...not only should we have a follow-up meeting but we should be looking at continuous engagement with such a large organisation like the Apprentice Boys whenever they are bringing large numbers to the city so that we can mitigate against the offensive incidents which are happening whenever bands are coming in from outside and they don't care about what happens.”

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DUP Alderman Chelsea Cooke said: “We welcome the interaction between the Apprentice Boys and the council and I want to thank those involved in the previous engagements and any to follow.

"I would also like to commend the Apprentice Boys for their proactive attitude as well as the positive engagement that they continue to have in order to run these successful community events and recognise the great deal of effort and time and hard work that goes into the organising of these events throughout the year so I just want to thank those involved.”

Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly said he attended the meeting in March and found it ‘very interesting’ and that it had presented an opportunity to ‘engage in dialogue and put diverse opinions’ across.

"I think the meeting was interesting and was worthwhile having and that if a similar meeting was set up again then I would have no issue whatsoever with being at that meeting and engaging,” he stated.

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UUP Alderman Derek Hussey said: "I took part in the parade. I was actually in my band along with my club. I'm actually surprised to hear what has been said as en route around I wasn't aware of anything. You are in the middle of it you are not aware of what is going on and probably 95-96% of those on parade are not aware of issues that took place.

"I don't buy the city papers so I presume there was stuff in the local papers here. I don't buy them so I don't know what is being talked about but I am certain, as Alderman Cooke has already alluded to, that the organisers are aware of issues that have arisen, that the General Committee of the Apprentice Boys will be looking very closely at issues that are being alluded to here in this chamber and I'm sure that the organisation will be keen to address those issues if they are issues that are addressable by the organisation.

"As has been pointed out a considerable number of people do come to the city and not all of those are members of the ABOD and therein lies perhaps an issue with regards to how do you control people who are not within your organisation and that is something I'm sure the association will look at,” he said.