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BBC NI's Robin Sheeran reports
"There was no sign of agreement after almost three hours"
 real 28k

Friday, 4 August, 2000, 08:29 GMT 09:29 UK
No agreement in parades issue
Apprentice Boys plan to march through Derry later in August
Apprentice Boys plan to march through Derry
Talks between the Protestant Apprentice Boys of Derry and the nationalist Bogside Residents' Group have failed to reach agreement over this month's loyal order parade in the city.

The discussions, in Chamber of Commerce House in Londonderry, brokered by the city's Town Centre Management group, lasted for almost three hours on Wednesday night.

Part of the route of the annual loyal order parade in Derry skirts the nationalist Bogside area and is opposed by residents.

But another area of contention involves feeder parades in areas such as Belfast's nationalist lower Ormeau Road.

Another meeting planned

The parades commemorate the 1689 Relief of Derry from the siege, which resulted from Protestant apprentices shutting the gates of the walled city against the forces of the Catholic King James II.

Both the loyal order and the residents in Derry agreed to meet again next Wednesday just three days ahead of the 12 August parade.

Talks co-chairman Garbhan O'Doherty, of the Town Centre Management Group, said he remained confident the issue would be resolved.

"Negotiations were long, difficult, revisiting some areas but certainly trying to move forward," he said.

"There's no doubt there's a will both from the Apprentice Boys and the BRG and it's important to note that talks are taking place here, as distinct from other parts of Northern Ireland."

Many people involved in business and tourism industry in Derry fear that tensions over the parade could damage the city's image and financial life.

In previous years, business leaders have been successful in helping the two sides come to agreement.

However, last August some businesses were damaged during disturbances in the city centre.

It followed a Northern Ireland Parades Commission ruling to allow a feeder parade in Belfast to go ahead after talks with residents broke down.

Bogside Residents spokesman Donncha MacNiallais
Donncha MacNiallais: Other parades must be taken into consideration
Speaking before Wednesday's talks, both the Bogside residents and Apprentice Boys said they wanted to find agreement on parades.

Bogside Residents spokesman Donncha MacNiallais said: "The Apprentice Boys claim to exist to commemorate the Siege of Derry.

"We are here to say the people of this city are prepared to arrive at an accommodation which guarantees that.

"But the issue of marches being forced through areas like lower Ormeau is totally unacceptable."

Governor of the Apprentice Boys of Derry Alistair Simpson said: "My hopes are the same as every other time, that we can come out with an agreement that is good for this city and not just for one particular group."

Apprentice Boys Governor Alistair Simpson: Flagship
Alistair Simpson: We want to find a solution
Derry city's visitor and convention bureau has said there has been a 15% increase in tourist enquiries this year compared to the same period last year.

Staff there hope nothing will stop that stream of visitors.

Ronan McNamara, who runs tours around the city's historic walls, said businesses suffered a slight downturn in July - the peak of the Orange Order marching season - but that overall figures were now up on last year.

"Obviously anyone who is involved in business, and indeed in the town's image, can't afford to have it tarnished any more because it is a constant battle trying to get people in here.

"Anything negative of course, will not create a positive spin on Northern Ireland," he said.

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See also:

04 Dec 99 | Northern Ireland
Parade hailed as 'flagship'
17 Aug 99 | Northern Ireland
Derry parades trouble blights investment hopes
02 Nov 99 | Northern Ireland
Derry parades solution 'possible' - residents
03 Dec 99 | Northern Ireland
The Apprentice Boys' march
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