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Saturday, August 8, 1998 Published at 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK

Violence mars Protestant march

Police surge into the crowds after bricks and bottles were thrown

Sporadic violence broke out at the Protestant Apprentice Boys march in Londonderry.

BBC Ireland Correspondent Mark Devenport: Violence was much less serious than in previous years
Police in riot gear were called in to keep opposing sides apart as bricks and bottles were thrown.

They fired two live rounds into the air to disperse a nationalist mob who attacked RUC officers as the parade came to an end.

Both officers were severely beaten and attacked with stones after becoming separated from the main body of RUC officers.

Despite the violence, the parade has been far more peaceful than in previous years.

Apprentice Boys and local Catholic residents agreed on the route beforehand to avoid large-scale fighting which has marred the parade in the past.

[ image: An injured policeman is helped away]
An injured policeman is helped away
Earlier, hundreds of marchers walked to a single drum beat along the city walls in Londonderry as they passed the Catholic Bogside area.

Only one band accompanied the marchers, in keeping with a deal struck between the Apprentice Boys and Catholic residents.

In previous years the Protestant parade, which marks the lifting of the siege of Londonderry in 1689, has led to major outbreaks of violence.

But this year the agreement meant only a small party laid a wreath at the cenotaph.

Alistair Simpson: We are not being triumphalist
There were a few jeers from a small crowd of nationalists as the Last Post was played but otherwise the event passed off without incident, as a minute's silence was held.

The Apprentice Boys' Governor, Alistair Simpson, told the marchers: "Those that have been watching this can realise that we are in no way being triumphalist.

[ image: Alistair Simpson: Proud of history]
Alistair Simpson: Proud of history
"But I feel, and the Apprentice Boys feel, that it's a history that the people of this city should be proud of."

But the march came amid sectarian disagreements following further prisoner releases as part of the Good Friday Agreement.

Friday's releases included Thomas McMahon, the only man convicted of the murder of Lord Mountbatten and three others who died when the IRA blew up his private boat in Mullaghmore in 1979.

Loyalist politicians expressed outrage at the release, heightening tensions frayed by a spate of car bombings last weekend.

[ image: A single drum beat accompanied marchers on the city walls]
A single drum beat accompanied marchers on the city walls
Police were out in force to ensure there was none of the trouble that has dogged the annual parade, which was given the go-ahead on Monday after talks with local Catholic residents.

The accord, brokered by the Parades Commission, followed protests at the sites of other loyalist parades, including at Drumcree where hundreds of Orange Order marchers engaged in a two-week stand-off in July.

However, there was still some anger that a couple of feeder parades in rural towns by members on their way to Derry have been re-routed by the Parades Commission.

Meanwhile, police in Derry confirmed they have arrested a third man in connection with the shooting of two Catholic brothers.

Frank and Anthony Creane were injured after a gun attack at their home on 27 July.

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