Parachute Regiment wing incident during Apprentice Boys parade set us back years, says Martina Anderson

Martina Anderson
Martina Anderson

The accommodation that has facilitated loyalist parades in Derry for the past 20 years was badly undermined at the weekend.

That’s according to Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson who said the appearance of Parachute Regiment insignia on the sleeves of a band participating in the Apprentice Boys parade caused great anger in the city.

“It created offence and hurt to the people of Derry. It did undermine years of work. The accommodation was abused at the weekend,” she claimed.

Ms. Anderson claimed the wearing of ‘Para’ wings by members of the Clydevalley Flute Band had caused great upset to the Bloody Sunday families.

“It doesn’t help us to maintain that spirit of generosity in this city. We are all very precious about the Bloody Sunday families because of all they have endured. There won’t be any tolerance in the city for that,” she said.

Though the Apprentice Boys’ acknowledgement that the wearing of the wings “may have caused upset” was welcome, Ms. Anderson said unionism’s response has been inadequate.

“When you listen to the unionist commentators trying to justify what they did...they knew the hurt it was going to cause. They knew it would have people questioning: is this the right thing to do?” she said.

She said there had been a visceral reaction from ordinary people to the controversy.

“The weekend has raised questions about that and people are questioning whether that generosity of spirit should be allowed to be disregarded in such a disrespectful way. I’ve heard that from ordinary people who are saying it should not have been allowed to happen. I don’t think they should have been allowed to march on the road,” she said.

A band statement read: “The officers of the band wish to correct any false impression which may be held regarding the band’s uniform being deliberately provocative and specifically designed for the parade in Londonderry.”

The Clydevalley Flute Band, Larne, being escorted last Saturday.