Apprentice Boys make 72 parade applications for siege anniversary

Band parades are planned in 40 locations across Northern Ireland this weekend to mark the ending of the Siege of Derry.

The annual commemorations are usually held in Londonderry, where the Apprentice Boys of Derry (ABOD) host hundreds of branches and bands.

But this year’s parade was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, a series of Apprentice Boys Clubs and bands have applied to the Parades Commission to hold local marches.

Of the 72 applications received by the Parades Commission, 15 have been deemed “sensitive” with three of these “under consideration”.

Among the parades where the Commission identified sensitivities is at Coleraine where an application to parade in the town by the ABOD Killowen Branch was one of four sent to the Parades Commission for the same route at roughly the same time.

While the Parades Commission ruled this parade could go ahead, it imposed conditions and noted: “The organisers of these four parades must be aware of the potential disruption their events may cause to the life of community in Coleraine, over an extended number of hours, from 7.30am to 2pm.

“These parades may be perceived as more disruptive than parades which took place before the pandemic, reflecting fears about the spread of infection.

“Organisers must take into account these potentially heightened community sensitivities, in the circumstances of the pandemic.”

Concerns about the spread of coronavirus factored in the Parades Commission’s determination on three applications received from ABOD Rathfriland Branch for 30 people to march in the town – spaced at 10 minute intervals.

This would see a total of 90 members marching along the route, however, the Parades Commission approved the applications on the grounds that there was an interval of around 18 minutes between the departure of each group of 30 people.

The Governor of the Apprentice Boys, Graeme Stenhouse, appealed to all clubs and bands organising their own commemorations this year to adhere to Government guidelines on coronavirus.

He said: “We have already written to branch clubs to say that if they want, they should have short parades and a wreath-laying ceremony at their local cenotaph, obviously sticking to the guideline issues by the Government.

“It is very important that clubs adhere to the coronavirus control guidelines and in the same way as around the Twelfth, bands will do their own thing, separate from the clubs, but we reiterate our message that everyone stick to the current guidelines.

“That message has already gone out from General Committee.”

Mr Stenhouse outlined the format this year’s commemoration of the Relief of Derry will take in the city this weekend.

He said it was in adherence to the restrictions around the number of people permitted to gather.

“Next Friday night at midnight we will carry out our tradition of Firing the Cannon and 13 members of the Campsie Parent Club will be going around and touching the Gates,” he added.

“On Saturday morning, 30 Apprentice Boys will walk around the Walls of the City and then will have our usual wreath-laying ceremony at the War Memorial at the Diamond.

“After that we will have a short religious service at the Siege Heroes’ Mound in the grounds of the Cathedral.

“There will be a number of bands holding small parades in Irish Street and Newbuildings on the day, which is up to them,” he added.

The ceremony is held each year, to commemorate the ending of the 105-day siege of the city in August 1689. The ending of the siege is known as the Relief of Derry.

Published on the 3rd of August 2020
Article taken from the Belfast Telegraph

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