Belfast Telegraph

Hopes high for peaceful day during Apprentice Boys' annual festivities

By Donna Deeney

The organisers of tomorrow's Apprentice Boys of Derry parade in the city are optimistic the event will pass off peacefully again.

More than 140 bands will lead the Apprentice Boys in their Relief of Derry commemorations, which will include a pageant at Craigavon Bridge expected to be watched by thousands of spectators.

Last month, ahead of the Twelfth, Derry saw a return to the sectarian violence that had been absent for many years when residents living in the Fountain estate and police came under attack from youths in the Bogside area.

Efforts have been ongoing to prevent a repeat of that violence.

Governor of the Apprentice Boys Graeme Stenhouse said he was optimistic that tomorrow's parade will be trouble-free.

He said: "Myself and the general secretary of the Apprentice Boys met with the police a couple of weeks ago and they told us they have no reason to believe there is going to be any trouble on Saturday, and we have been reassured by that.

"Over the past number of years the harmony in the city during our parades has been great and we very much want to see that continue.

"We have had incredible numbers attending all the different events of the Maiden City Festival and so many tourists have stopped and asked what it is all about, which we were happy to showcase our history to them.

"On Saturday, 145 bands will be in our city from across Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK along with local and visiting Apprentice Boys totalling 10,000 men and women along with countless spectators, so it is a great day for the whole city."

Prior to tomorrow's parade a bonfire will be lit in the Fountain estate, where there is also a feeling of optimism that events will remain peaceful.

Jeanette Warke from the Cathedral Youth Club said: "We have organised a fun day for the whole community because we thought that, after all the negativity of last month, the community needed something.

"We are having a band and a barbecue at night and everyone is invited and welcome to join us.

"We had a cross-community football match a couple of nights ago, and while the football was being played the bonfire was being built.

"We are open to everyone and everybody, the city belongs to us all and the future belongs to us all."

Belfast Telegraph

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