PICTURES: Dispersing Apprentice Boys parades ‘will bring recruitment boom’

One of the Apprentice Boys’ of Derry’s (ABOD) leading figures has said he expects to see a rise in recruitment after Saturday’s low-key relief parades in Londonderry.

Sunday, 15th August 2021, 2:05 pm
Updated Sunday, 15th August 2021, 2:38 pm
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 14th August 2021  Apprentice Boys of Derry ParadeApprentice Boys of Derry  Relief of Derry Parade.   William King Memorial Flute Band.  Mandatory Credit ©Lorcan Doherty/Presseye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 14th August 2021 Apprentice Boys of Derry ParadeApprentice Boys of Derry Relief of Derry Parade. William King Memorial Flute Band. Mandatory Credit ©Lorcan Doherty/Presseye

Billy Moore made the comments to the News Letter following vastly scaled-down commemoration in the city, where only a fraction of the normal numbers of bands and brethren took to the streets.

This was because the ABOD leadership had rescinded invitations for members and supporters across Northern Ireland to congregate in the Maiden City as usual for the annual celebrations.

The decision was made due to the ongoing Covid crisis.

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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 14th August 2021 Apprentice Boys of Derry ParadeApprentice Boys of Derry Relief of Derry Parade. The parade en route along the City Walls. Mandatory Credit ©Lorcan Doherty/Presseye

This all meant that ABOD members in Londonderry planned and executed the traditional events more-or-less alone, with little outside support, and that instead of coming to the city local ABOD groups had been advised to stage commemorations in their own areas.

“We celebrated the 332nd anniversary of the relief of Londonderry with much-restricted numbers, however the day went off exactly as planned,” said Mr Moore, the general secretary.

“It was a special occasion as usual, and the local clubs fulfilled the usual traditional events.”

This included the firing of a cannon on the eve of celebrations, followed by marching the circumference of the walls on Saturday, albeit with eight bands and 800 marchers, rather than the typical 140-plus bands and up to 12,000 marchers.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 14th August 2021 Apprentice Boys of Derry ParadeApprentice Boys of Derry Relief of Derry Parade. The Pride of Orange and Blue, Newbuildings. Mandatory Credit ©Lorcan Doherty/Presseye

But the fact so many loyalists marked the day in their own neighbourhoods instead of Londonderry could have a positive effect, said Mr Moore.

The Parades Commission had been notified of roughly 50 ABOD demonstrations across Northern Ireland on Saturday.

“It was an opportunity for many clubs to combine together in their own local towns and villages and parade,” he said.

“That to me is a good PR exercise, an opportunity for our branch clubs to attract and encourage new members.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 14th August 2021 Apprentice Boys of Derry ParadeApprentice Boys of Derry Relief of Derry Parade. A member of the Apprentice Boys of Derry checking his banner pole. Mandatory Credit ©Lorcan Doherty/Presseye

“It was a great opportunity for recruitment into the local clubs, and I’m sure – matter of fact I’m positive – that will bear fruit and good results in the near future, and we’ll see an influx of new members into our association.

“There’s no doubt about it – the local parades in local areas will be a great PR exercise for our organisation and certainly be a great recruitment drive. I’ve no doubt in the coming months we’ll see an influx of new members joining many of the clubs throughout Northern Ireland.”

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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 14th August 2021 Apprentice Boys of Derry ParadeApprentice Boys of Derry Relief of Derry Parade. The parade en route along Palace Street. Mandatory Credit ©Lorcan Doherty/Presseye

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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 14th August 2021 Apprentice Boys of Derry ParadeApprentice Boys of Derry Relief of Derry Parade. Olivia Lumsden, Hamilton Flute Band. Mandatory Credit ©Lorcan Doherty/Presseye

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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 14th August 2021 Apprentice Boys of Derry ParadeApprentice Boys of Derry Relief of Derry Parade. Pride of Orange and Blue band, Newbuildings preparing for the parade. Mandatory Credit ©Lorcan Doherty/Presseye