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EDITIONS
Friday, 6 December, 2002, 15:45 GMT
Hopes for peaceful march in Derry
The Apprentice Boys in Londonderry
The Apprentice Boys to mark Lundy Day


Several thousand Apprentice Boys of Derry and their accompanying bands will stage one of their main parades in the city on Saturday.

Known locally as Lundy Day, it marks the closing of the city gates by thirteen young apprentices in 1688 against the besieging forces of Catholic King James ll.

Colonel Robert Lundy is reviled by loyalists as a traitor.


I'm looking to demonstrate our heritage and culture which is part of the city's history

Billy Allen
Governor Apprentice Boys of Derry

He was governor of Derry when the city came under siege from King James' army and his notoriety stems from his efforts to persuade the defenders to surrender.

That's why a huge effigy of Lundy will be ceremonially burned on Saturday in Derry's Bishop Street as the climax to the Apprentice Boys' day.

This year, the loyal order marks the start of the historic siege with a new man in charge.

A former British soldier who served in Kenya and the Middle East, Billy Allen was recently appointed as governor.

Billy Allen
Billy Allen: Praying for peaceful day
He succeeds Alistair Simpson, who led the organisation for nine years.

Mr Allen, 67, beat Mr Simpson in an election vote in mid-November.

Alistair Simpson had a high profile after brokering a deal with local business people and the nationalist Bogside Residents' Group.

But the Apprentice Boys' marches were not all without problems. During Alister Simpson's early years in charge, there was a great deal of controversy surrounding the parades.

Minor disturbances

Some led to violence when mobs of nationalist youths went on the rampage and wrecked the city centre during sustained rioting against the police and army.

Some marchers too brought discredit on the organisation, although those disturbances were relatively minor.

Alistair Simpson believes great strides have been made in recent years.

Alister Simpson
Alister Simpson: "Nationalists are better informed now"
"I think we've gone from a situation where the nationalist community didn't know a lot about the Apprentice Boys to where they are much better informed now.

"I think we've achieved that through our annual Maiden City Festival. It celebrates the history and culture of the Protestant people of this city.

"There's been a great response from the Catholic community to our efforts and I'm sure that will continue now."

'Not secret'

Billy Allen says he intends building on the work of Alistair Simpson and will "engage" with the nationalist community.

"Alistair brought us out from the Apprentice Boys' rooms into the city, which was good for the association. We used to be classed as secret.

"That is not true. We were set in our ways but we have learned to go beyond that.

"I hope sincerely that my leadership takes us beyond what Alistair has already created. I'm looking to broaden the association more - looking to demonstrate our heritage and culture which is part of the city's history.

"The Apprentice Boys now have this carnival (Maiden City Festival) which we like to think can be something everyone enjoys in the city."

All he wants this weekend is for his first parade in charge to pass without incident.

"I hope and pray it will take place without any trouble and that everyone enjoys the day."

See also:

01 Apr 02 | N Ireland
25 Mar 02 | N Ireland
06 Apr 01 | N Ireland
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