Northern Ireland news

Apprentice Boys mark Siege of Derry with scaled back annual parade

The annual Apprentice Boys march in Derry on Saturday saw greatly reduced numbers due to the coronavirus pandemic. Picture from BBC
John Monaghan

JUST thirty representatives of the Apprentice Boys have walked the walls of Derry, as the annual march - traditionally one of the year's largest parades - went ahead on a greatly reduced scale due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In normal times thousands of people would descend on the city to mark the end of the Siege of Derry in August 1689.

On Saturday, small groups of people congregated to watch on and applaud as the limited numbers of Apprentice Boys passed through.

Last year five people were arrested for public order offences and the headquarters of the Apprentice Boys was attacked with petrol bombs during disorder following the march.

This year Graeme Stenhouse, the governor of the Apprentice Boys, led the parade to the Diamond, where a short wreath-laying ceremony took place at the war memorial.

The marchers then made their way to St Columb's Cathedral for an outdoor service.

Mr Stenhouse said he was hopeful that people could once again enjoy the parade in full next August.

"I thought it was a very humbling experience. I would say today we created history - there's never been anything like that before," he said.

"We're living in unprecedented times and we look forward to 12 months' time when hopefully there aren't any guidelines in place and we'll be able to come back to Londonderry and celebrate our culture, our history and identity in a bigger manner."

There were also small parades and wreath laying ceremonies in other parts of Northern Ireland to mark the event, which is traditionally held on the second Saturday in August.

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