Belfast Telegraph

Apprentice Boys: 'We recognise upset caused by band's Parachute Regiment emblem'

They also said they had no prior knowledge of the display by the Clyde Valley Flute Band.

Andrew Madden

By Andrew Madden

The Apprentice Boys have said they recognise the upset caused by a flute band that wore a Parachute Regiment emblem on their uniform during a parade in Londonderry at the weekend.

They also said they had no prior knowledge of the display by the Clyde Valley Flute Band.

Members of the band from Larne had the regiment's insignia and the letter "F" on the sleeves of their uniforms as they took part in the loyal order Apprentice Boys parade through the city on Saturday.

 

"Soldier F", a member of the Parachute Regiment, is due in court next month charged with two counts of murder and four counts of attempted murder committed in Derry Bloody Sunday.

A large number of police officers surrounded the band as it made its way through the Waterside area in order to prevent a breach a peace.

Members of the band were also stopped by police as there bus made its way back to Larne.

We recognise that this may have caused upset to many in the nationalist community. Apprentice Boys of Derry

In a statement on behalf of the Apprentice Boys of Derry Association on Tuesday evening, the organisation's governor Graeme Stenhouse said: "At the Relief of Londonderry commemorations on Saturday the 10th of August an incident took place with the Clyde Valley Flute Band, with regards to an emblem on the band's shirt sleeve.

"The officers on the general committee had no prior knowledge of the band's uniform, or this incident, until the conclusion of the main parade at Bond Street.

"We recognise that this may have caused upset to many in the nationalist community. Our focus at this parade is to commemorate the siege and relief of the city in 1689 and in no way should it be used as a means to heighten tensions in a shared city."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood

"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," he said.

"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.”

On Tuesday afternoon, DUP leader Arlene Foster, said people have a right to support Soldier F.

“This is the territory of freedom of speech versus provocation," she said after a meeting with Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin on Tuesday.

“Soldier F is going to be brought before the courts, he hasn't been found guilty, he hasn't gone through due process, which we believe in very firmly, but people have a right to support Soldier F."

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