Right to parade can't clash with right to trade - Anderson

As many businesses in the city centre remained closed during Saturday's Apprentice Boys parade, Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson has said the right to parade must be balanced with the right to trade.

Ms Anderson also called for a meeting between Loyal Orders, business representatives and local politicians to discuss how traders can be accommodated during future parades.

"While every one is relieved that the weekend passed off peacefully, and all of those involved in ensuring that result are to be congratulated, it did not pass without cost," the Foyle MLA said.

Ms Anderson said some business owners reported a 70 per cent drop in trade during the march. "I have spoken to and been contacted by a number of business people who point out that their business was down by as much as 70% on a day that many businesses do 60% of their weekly turnover. This is not sustainable in the present economic climate. While we must respect the right to parade the organizers of these parades must recognise and respect the right to trade," she explained.

Ms Anderson rejected claims by the Apprentice Boys that the parade brings trade to Derry. "I have heard Loyal Order spokespersons claim that they bring trade to the city by the numbers attending the parades but this is obviously a myth as borne out by the massive loss of trade being reported by local business.

"The disruption caused for the whole day because of the way the parades are organized morning and afternoon means that the city is virtually closed down for the entire day. Traffic diversions, heavy police presence and the actions of some of the participants and spectators combine to discourage shoppers from coming to the city centre," she said.

She also called for a meeting to be convened to find a balance between traders and the Apprentice Boys. "Tradition does not equate with common sense. What was acceptable in years gone by does not necessarily fit with conditions and requirements of today's society. The Loyal Orders need to take on board the opinions and legitimate grievances of the business community and those people who wish to shop in the City Centre. They can not forever perceive every suggestion to look at alternatives as attacks on their culture or motivated by opposition to parades," she said.