Tensions build ahead of Londonderry parade
Tensions were mounting ahead of today’s Apprentice Boys of Derry parade, with Sinn Féin calling on the 32 County Sovereignty Movement to postpone an internment rally.
The 32 County Sovereignty Movement is preparing to stage the anti-internment protest in the Bogside this afternoon.
Meanwhile around 30,000 people were expected to flood into the city today ahead of the Relief of Derry march, which will head across Craigavon Bridge to the city centre.
Apprentice Boys will walk along the Derry Walls — which overlook the Bogside — and up through the Diamond area throughout the afternoon.
Sinn Fein warned that residents in the Fahan Street area, which runs from the Bogside to the City Walls, did not want to be caught in any trouble that might ensue.
Local Sinn Féin representatives have called for the anti-internment march to be postponed until Sunday, the actual anniversary of the introduction of internment without trial by the British Government in 1971.
Police have meanwhile warned that there will be a robust response to anyone stepping out of line today.
Tensions were raised yesterday when Army Technical Officers dealt with a suspicious object near Derry's Walls.
A controlled explosion was carried out near Butcher’s Gate during the operation, which lasted for several hours. The object, found on a footpath overlooking the Bogside, was declared an elaborate hoax.
Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney said that residents of Fahan Street, Joseph's Place and Derry in general were concerned by the threat of confrontations.
He said: “I would appeal to any organisation that intends to bring large numbers of people onto our streets on Saturday to be mindful of the rights of residents to live free from fear or intimidation.
“In light of the impending job losses announced by Stream International this week, the last thing Derry needs is damage to its reputation through negative publicity being beamed around the world.”
He added: “The residents of Fahan Street, Joseph's Place and the Bogside always end up bearing the brunt of parade-related trouble. This is unacceptable.
“Everyone, no matter their political affiliation, should focus on ensuring that this weekend passes off peacefully and that the residents can rest easily in the privacy of their homes, as is their inalienable right.”
Mr McCartney’s colleague, Waterside councillor Lynn Fleming, appealed to the organisers of the Apprentice Boys demonstration to ensure participants and supporters of the march pay proper regard to the rights of the residents of the Lower Waterside area.