'Londonderry' banner to welcome Apprentice Boys of Derry

MLAs Gregory Campbell and Gary Middleton along with DUP councillors pictured with the party's new Derry name-change banner.
Seamus McKinney

The DUP is to erect a banner welcoming the Apprentice Boys of Derry to “Londonderry” as part of opposition to an attempt to change the name of the city.

Up to 15,000 Apprentice Boys and their supporters are expected to take part in today's annual Relief of Derry parade.

This year's march comes after renewed moves to change the official name of the city from Londonderry to Derry.

Last month Derry City and Strabane District Council backed a proposal to formally instigate a name-change process.

Previous attempts to change the name have failed, with the High Court ruling in 2007 that legislation or Royal prerogative would be required.

The council is now to write to environment minister Mark H Durkan.

Last week unionist members of the authority submitted an official Local Government Act “call-in” challenging the move.

Under its terms, the council must reconsider its decision, although the same conclusion may still be reached.

As part of his party's opposition, DUP MP Gregory Campbell said a banner would also be erected on the marchers' approach to the city today.

“This banner will be there to greet them as they arrive and will only be a small part of the magnificent welcome which awaits from the Maiden City," he said.

"It is unfortunate that divisive attempts have again been made to re-open a closed debate about the name of the city.

“We are resolute in our determination however to oppose this change and there can be no more appropriate day on which to ensure the name of Londonderry is celebrated and promoted not just by one side of our community but by all."

The move was branded “provocative” last night by independent councillor Gary Donnelly.

Mr Donnelly, a leading member of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, accused the DUP of raising tensions.

“I wonder is this just a move to distract people's attentions away from everything that is going on at Stormont. I also hope the DUP has planning permission to erect any such banner,” he said.

The Relief of Derry events get underway at 9am this morning, with the main parade through the city centre starting at 12.30pm.

Police have warned motorists to expect diversions and delays from 10.30am onwards, with the events expected to conclude around 5pm.


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