Northern Ireland

Apprentice Boys of Derry: Police chief says city parade was 'exemplary'

A police commander has described an Apprentice Boys of Derry parade through the city as "exemplary" and "one of the most peaceful" in his 30-year career.

About 35,000 people attended the annual Relief of Londonderry event on Saturday, commemorating the ending of the 17th century siege of the city.

The main parade passed through the city without incident in the afternoon.

Later, there were two parade-related arrests, but police praised organisers after what was a mainly peaceful event.

The Apprentice Boys of Derry's annual August march is the largest single parade in Northern Ireland each year.

'Hard work'

Speaking on Sunday, police commander Stephen Cargin said it was the third consecutive year that the event had gone well.

"This is not a coincidence - it is due to the hard work of many agencies, ABOD, businesses, marshals and organisations involved in the partnership working that goes into the lengthy planning of the event.

"It just goes to show that it obviously pays off when people respect and listen to each other and work for a peaceful resolution."

Image caption District Commander Stephen Cargin described Saturday's parade as exemplary

Ch Supt Cargin said there had been "almost a carnival-like atmosphere in the city".

"We have just come out of the City of Culture year which has left a huge legacy for the city and I think yesterday was testimony to that.

"I am pleased to say that I can't remember a parade that has gone so well in the 28 years that I have been policing in this city and I hope that this positive momentum only continues."

'Reached out'

About 500 police officers were on duty in the city, but a spokesperson said they had expected it to be a relatively low-key security operation.

The governor of the Apprentice Boys, Jim Brownlee, said: "This is an historical event, it carries no threat to anyone.

"It marks a very significant period in this city's history."

Image caption During Saturday's event, wreaths were laid at the cenotaph

Mr Brownlee said hard work behind the scenes by parade negotiators had led to an accommodation in the city.

"We have, over the years, reached out to many communities, not just locally but further afield, to explain exactly what the Apprentice Boys Association is about - the historical context and the importance of an event such as this."

The commemoration began at midnight on Saturday, with the firing of a cannon on the city's walls.

An initial march around Derry's walls took place at 09:30 BST, followed by a Church of Ireland service in St Columb's Cathedral.

105-day siege

A wreath-laying service also took place at the cenotaph in the Diamond.

A theatrical re-enactment of the ending of the siege was performed at noon, before the main parade got under way from Craigavon Bridge.

About 7,000 Apprentice Boys, accompanied by 144 bands and supporters, took part in the main march.

Image caption Thousands took part in the Apprentice Boys parade in Derry

Hours after the main parade, which had passed through the city centre by about 15:30 BST, two men were arrested.

A 22-year-old man was arrested for disorderly behaviour at John Street at 17:00 BST on Saturday.

A 19-year-old man was detained on suspicion of disorderly behaviour and assault on police on the Glendermott Road at 18:00 BST.

The memorial ceremony is held on the second Saturday in August each year, to commemorate the ending of the 105-day siege of the city in August 1689.

Image caption The main parade got under way at about lunchtime on Saturday

The siege took place against the background of the deposed Catholic King James II's attempt to regain his crown from his Protestant son-in-law, King William III.

Also known as William of Orange, or King Billy, the new monarch was supported by Protestants in Derry, who shut the gates of the walled city to keep out the advancing Jacobite army.

The Apprentice Boys of Derry Association has described the three-and-half-month blockade as the "longest siege in British military history".

More on this story