The “dignified” nature of a loyal order parade which brought thousands of marchers to a Co Armagh town has been praised.
The Apprentice Boys of Derry’s annual Easter gathering saw scores of bands sweep through Lurgan from late morning on Monday.
The parade – which followed a number of smaller Apprentice Boys marches across the Province – came at a turbulent time for the town, which experienced republican disturbances during Monday morning and afternoon.
The parade, organised by the Mid Ulster Amalgamated Committee, was listed as having 61 bands taking part in its application to the Parades Commission.
Jim Brownlee, governor of the Apprentice Boys for the last nine years, said that before setting off, wreaths had been laid at the cenotaph in his home city of Londonderry to soldier Charles Love Crockett, a native of the city who was killed in the Easter Rising.
It was the first time in over 20 years that the parade – the first large-scale loyalist march of the year – had been held in Lurgan.
The 56-year-old said: “I’m not sure how many people were on the streets, but it was a very, very enjoyable and successful day for that association. Once again, everybody went home pleased they’d made the effort to come along.”
Carla Lockhart, DUP councillor for the town, said: “It’s been a difficult weekend for Lurgan. But thankfully it was an excellent parade – very dignified and well-marshalled.
“It was definitely a credit to the Apprentice Boys in how they organised it and arranged it.”
She estimated that there could have been as many as 10,000 spectators on the streets to watch it pass.
Among those marching was her husband Rodney Condell (councillor Lockhart opted to retain her maiden name after marriage).
She noted that there had been a paramilitary-style republican parade in the town on Saturday featuring masked men, and that the Apprentice Boys’ gathering stood in “stark contrast” to it.
She also said that despite the Parades Commission having made an earlier “error of judgment” in prohibiting the main bulk of the parade from marching around the Shankill Parish church in the town centre, the marchers abided by the determinations.
The Junior Orange Association of Ireland will hold its annual Easter Tuesday demonstration in Carrickfergus, leaving Prince William Way at 12.30pm and proceeding through the town centre to Joymount car park.
The return parade is due to commence at 3.30pm.