Belfast Telegraph

Apprentice Boys of Derry parade 'like a carnival'

By Steven Alexander

Police have praised the Apprentice Boys of Derry as exemplary and described the city's biggest annual parade as the most peaceful in three decades.

Only two people were arrested on the day after 35,000 people participated in the annual Relief of Derry parade.

Chief Superintendent Stephen Cargin described Saturday's atmosphere as carnival-like.

"The Apprentice Boys of Derry parade in the city passed off extremely well, the parade itself was exemplary," he said.

"It is the third year that the parade has went well. This is not a coincidence – it is due to the hard work of many agencies, ABOD, businesses, marshals and organisations involved in the partnership working that goes into the lengthy planning of the event.

"It just goes to show that it obviously pays off when people respect and listen to each other and work for a peaceful resolution.

"There was a really good feel around the city, almost a carnival-like atmosphere.

"We have just come out of the City of Culture year which has left a huge legacy for the city and I think yesterday was testimony to that."

He added: "I am pleased to say that I can't remember a parade that has gone so well in the 28 years that I have been policing in this city and I hope that this positive momentum only continues."

Around 500 officers were on duty in a low-key operation to police the 145 bands and 8,000 Apprentice Boys as they paraded through the Waterside to the cityside and back again.

Apprentice Boys Governor Jim Brownlee said: "This is an historical event, it carries no threat to anyone.

"It marks a very significant period in this city's history.

"We have, over the years, reached out to many communities, not just locally but further afield, to explain exactly what the Apprentice Boys Association is about – the historical context and the importance of an event such as this."

The annual parade commemorates the events of August 1689 when – having endured 105 days of attacks, hunger, disease and death – the inhabitants of Derry celebrated the ending of the longest siege in British military history.

In Belfast an annual march to commemorate 11 people, including a priest, shot dead by soldiers over three days in Ballymurphy in 1971 also passed off without incident.

The families of those killed are campaigning for a Bloody Sunday-style inquiry into the deaths, which also included a mother of eight children.

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