Boys play down march clash fear

The annual Apprentice Boys Relief of Derry parade in 2016. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 13.08.16
The annual Apprentice Boys Relief of Derry parade in 2016. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 13.08.16

The Apprentice Boys of Derry have said that a republican picket taking place at the same time as their Relief of Londonderry parade today will not interfere with the high-profile march.

Representatives from Junior McDaid House in conjunction with Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association will be holding a picket in support of republican prisoner Luke O’Neill at 2pm on Shipquay Street.

The main parade for the Apprentice Boys of Derry’s Relief of Londonderry march will begin at 12.30pm and is due to pass the picket.

ABOD General Secretary Billy Moore described the demonstration as “insignificant”. He commented: “It will be fairly close to our parade but it’s fairly insignificant. I’m sure police will have it well marshalled so it does not interfere with our parade.

“There have been pickets like this before and we’ve paraded past them without even noticing that anything was taking place.

“My belief is that it’s uncalled for, but I can see why they picked this time and location as it will get them attention and allow them to create propaganda.”

The picket is intended to highlight the situation of O’Neill, a Lurgan man in prison at Maghaberry on terror charges.

Speaking ahead of the picket, Junior McDaid House spokesman Patrick Gallagher said: “Luke has been held in isolation for almost a year and within this time he has been on protest. At the start of his incarceration he commenced on a ‘no wash’ protest, although that has ended Luke is still in lockdown and unable to associate with his comrades. We at Junior McDaid House demand an end to the isolation of Luke O’Neill immediately and call on the relevant authorities to act quickly and decisively so that Luke can be moved to Roe House.”