Belfast Telegraph

Apprentice Boys set for St Patrick's Day parade

By Donna Deeney

The Apprentice Boys will go on parade on St Patrick's Day in Londonderry for the first time as they celebrate their 150th anniversary.

Although the historic parade is taking place ahead of the main celebrations organised by Derry City Council, it has been billed as another example of how the loyal orders in the historic city are leading the way on celebrating their culture.

Some participants are also expected to take part in the main event in an unofficial capacity,

Among those taking part will be key figures in the organisation including Apprentice Boys Governor, Jim Brownlee.

William Stewart, a past president of the No Surrender Club, said that while the parade was not connected to the St Patrick's Day festivities, the club was planning to celebrate national saint later on.

Mr Stewart said: "What we are planning to do on St Patrick's Day is just one of a number of events this year to mark the 150th anniversary of the No Surrender Club.

"Our parade takes in a service at St Columb's Cathedral where a new banner will be dedicated and unfurled but it will be followed in the evening by our own St Patrick's Day celebrations.

"St Patrick belongs to all of us and some of our members will be taking part in the council-run parade in an unofficial capacity as well.

"We took care not to clash with the main parade organised by the council. Derry is seen as an example of a place were two communities get on and while it is not perfect, I would encourage that."

The Apprentice Boys will be accompanied by the William King Memorial Flute Band on a parade that will take place from noon until 1.30pm. City centre manager Jim Roddy said he was confident there would be no friction.

He said: "The Apprentice Boys are planning a short parade around the city centre on St Patrick's Day which as far as I understand is the first time this has ever happened.

"There is no difficulty with anyone at all that they are doing this. It is a dedication of a new banner to mark the 150th anniversary of one of their clubs.

"The people that we usually talk to about parades in the city have been spoken to and everyone is confident and relaxed that it will pass off peacefully. The feeling is it is good to see people celebrating their culture in the city that belongs to all of us."

The loyal orders in Derry have been part of a number of initiatives in recent years that have taken the tension out of parades.

At the weekend, the Londonderry Bands Forum participated in a fringe event at the Sinn Fein ard fheis.

The orders have also engaged in dialogue with a multitude of different bodies and agencies to ensure parades are now peaceful, and produced a code of conduct.

Quotes

"That there is to be a parade by the Apprentice Boys and an accompanying band on St Patrick's Day is to be welcomed. St Patrick's Day is a day for all to celebrate and all should feel free to celebrate their heritage on the day. Those who organise civic parades should build on progress and ensure that all feel welcome and included."

Unionist commentator Terry Wright

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