A leading member of the Apprentice Boys today warned troublemakers to stay away from Saturday’s loyal order parade in Londonderry.
William Hay was speaking after police revealed their intelligence found that some people had planned to disrupt the annual Apprentice Boys of Derry parade.
“I would appeal to people who are coming along to create problems to stay away,” said Mr Hay.
Acting PSNI Chief Inspector Jon Burrows said intelligence had led police to believe that a small group of people are intent on causing disruption.
“Officers will respond quickly to incidents that have potential to cause disorder and anyone found behaving inappropriately will be dealt with robustly,” he said.
The annual parade will march into the city from the Waterside following a historical pageant and fireworks at Carlisle Square at the cityside end of Craigavon Bridge on Saturday afternoon.
Mr Burrows added: “I am confident we have put in place the necessary measures for this Saturday's parade.
“While we are happy to engage positively with the public on the day, public safety is our main priority.
“We expect everyone to behave in a mature and respectful manner and we will be carrying out our usual checks regarding alcohol on the parade route.”
Mr Burrows said police in Foyle have arrested and charged 20 |people in relation to incidents during the Twelfth celebrations last month.
“The public should be in no doubt that similar steps will be taken, where necessary, should trouble break out this weekend” he warned, adding: “We are not going to let a small minority bring us back to events of the past. A lot of time, money and resources are spent policing parades. This is money that could be better spent locally tackling issues such as burglary, car crime and drugs and we look forward to the day when police resources at parades can be scaled right back.
“Until that day everyone must bear the responsibility to ensure these events are not tarnished by the actions of a few individuals. Police in Foyle will continue to step up to the mark throughout this process.”
Mr Hay — an MLA for Foyle — said: “There's no doubt about it that there is a small minority who are encouraged by others to create trouble on Saturday. Our organisation is happy that wiser counsel will prevail not only for ourselves but the wider business community. We have been planning for a peaceful day.
“There has been a lot of work behind the scenes by church leaders to make sure this parade passes of peacefully and that is our sincere wish for the day.
“If people are so opposed to the culture of the Apprentice Boys they should stay away.
“The police are taking this very seriously and we support them in the statement they made in relation to the parade.
“Let's not forget we have come along way in the last 10 to 12 years and most parades in the city now pass off without any trouble.
“We need to keep in mind that it is a small, small minority who come to cause problems. Dissident republicans have been behind some of the problems we have had in the city recently.
“They have been responsible for the increasing tension at interface areas and from a number of sources we know they are behind rising tensions concerning the parade on Saturday.”