Apprentice Boys: We recognise the upset over Para emblems
The Apprentice Boys last night said it recognised that a band’s display of a Parachute Regiment insignia on Saturday may have caused upset and that its annual parade should not be used to raise tensions in Londonderry.
Governor Graeme Stenhouse was speaking after a loyalist flute band from Larne paraded close to the scene of Bloody Sunday with a Parachute Regiment symbol on their uniforms.
Members of the Clyde Valley Flute Band also had the letter ‘F’ displayed on the sleeves of their uniforms to show support for Soldier F, the former soldier facing prosecution for two murders and four attempted murders on Bloody Sunday in Derry.
Mr Stenhouse said the loyal order’s officers had no knowledge of the insignia until the parade had concluded.
“We recognise that this may have caused upset to many in the nationalist community,” he said.
“Our focus at this parade is to commemorate the siege and the relief of the city in 1689 and in no way should it be used to heighten tensions in a shared city.”
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood MLA welcomed the statement from the organisation acknowledging the hurt caused.
The Foyle MLA said that it was an important step toward the inclusive space of accommodation within the city.
He said: “The statement from the Apprentice Boys acknowledging the genuine hurt caused by a band parading with Parachute Regiment and Soldier F insignia is a positive step that will contribute to healing in the city.
“It is welcome and demonstrates the kind of leadership that Derry and the North needs right now. Tensions in our city have been heightened over the course of the weekend.
“We all have a responsibility to take the poison out of a very difficult situation and work together to reconcile our communities.
“We have occupied the space of accommodation and respect before. There is no reason we can’t move to back to that ground again.
“There is no future for our city that excludes any community. Now we have to work hard to bring people together and sustain the spirit of reconciliation.”
Earlier the Apprentice Boys general secretary Billy Moore said he hoped there would be renewed parades dialogue and called for an end to petrol bombs attacks on the loyal institution’s Memorial Hall.