Apprentice Boys of Derry parade trouble free

Hamilton Flute Band leading the parade on Saturday
Hamilton Flute Band leading the parade on Saturday

More than 10,000 Apprentice Boys of Derry, headed by 140 bands, marked the 316th anniversary of the ‘Relief’ of the city on Saturday.

The largest loyal order parade of the year saw a highly colourful parade march over a route on both sides of the River Foyle.

Members of the Burntollet Sons of Ulster Flute Band lower their flags during the service at the War Memorial

Members of the Burntollet Sons of Ulster Flute Band lower their flags during the service at the War Memorial

Among those on parade was East Londonderry DUP MP Gregory Campbell with the Campsie parent club who said: “There was an exceptionally big turn out of bands and tens of thousands of spectators. The day was enjoyed by everybody.

“There were no incidents of note at all in Londonderry.

“Sometimes there are a few altercations at flash points but there was nothing like that.”

DUP MLA for Foyle, Gary Middleton, said: “It was a great day and the most important thing for ourselves was that it passed off peacefully and that was down to the huge amount of work put in before the parade with people behind the scenes working with the police and religious leaders.”

The head of the parade makes its way over Bishop Gate

The head of the parade makes its way over Bishop Gate

Mr Campbell added that “any of the shops that I saw in Londonderry including food outlets were doing good business around the parade route”.

“There were a large number of visitors who ate out for the occasion,” he added.

He said that poor weather put a dampener on the day as “while the morning was warm and sunny the parade had only started about half an hour when there were a few showers”.

Mr Campbell said the only downbeat element to the day “was the attack on the bus in Dungiven” on their return journey to north Belfast.

This youngster hands a refreshing drink to a grateful bandsman at Irish Street

This youngster hands a refreshing drink to a grateful bandsman at Irish Street

“The people who were attacked were only going to watch the parade in Londonderry and they didn’t have banners or flags or collarettes,” he said.

“There is no way anyone would have known they were at the parade as they were simply civilians on the bus.”

Mr Campbell said “attacks of this kind have to stop because someone could be killed”.

Mr Middleton also spoke of his “disappointment” that a bus was attacked on the return to Belfast.

At the start of proceedings on Saturday wreaths were laid at the war memorial in the Diamond before the parade proceeded to an anniversary service in the historic St Columb’s Cathedral, where the besieged Protestants gathered for safety during the 1688-89 Siege.