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Apprentice Boys Governor Alistair Simpson:
"We are looking forward to a peaceful day"
 real 28k

BBC NI's Kieran Tourish
"Talks in Derry are due to resume next month"
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Thursday, 10 August, 2000, 18:41 GMT 19:41 UK
'Flagship parade deal provides hope'
Apprentice Boys march in Londonderry
No opposition from residents to Apprentice Boys march
The Apprentice Boys Governor Alistair Simpson has said a Londonderry parades deal brokered with nationalist residents provides hope for Northern Ireland.

Talks on Wednesday night between the Bogside Residents Group and the Protestant loyal order about their parade in Derry on Saturday achieved an "understanding".

The Apprentice Boys demonstration every August commemorates the Relief of Derry from the forces of the Catholic King James II in 1689.

Bogside Residents spokesman Donncha MacNiallais said there would be no opposition to the parade. While Mr Simpson said the agreement should be seen as an example.

Alistair Simpson
Alistair Simpson: "Flagship deal"
Mr Simpson said: "I hope this agreement for Saturday will be a flagship for the rest of Northern Ireland to show the people that violence doesn't pay and that sitting down and having constructive discussions helps everyone."

Mr MacNiallais said: "I don't want to describe this as a victory or defeat for anyone. I don't think it is a matter of that."

Brendan Duddy of the Town Centre Management Group, which co-ordinated the talks, said: "We'll have a good peaceful day on Saturday. It was never really going to be any other way, but the meeting was excellent."

The police in Derry have said they are planning a low-key security operation for Saturday's parade in response to the agreement.

RUC sub-divisional commander Peter Sheridan said the police would do all it could to provide a normal atmosphere.

Ormeau parade barred

The Derry talks followed a decision by the Northern Ireland Parades Commission earlier on Wednesday to ban an Apprentice Boys 'feeder parade' to the main Derry demonstration from passing through the mainly nationalist lower Ormeau Road area of Belfast on Saturday.

The Ballynafeigh lodge of the loyal order had applied to march along the road, before travelling by bus to Derry.

The Ballynafeigh Apprentice Boys have said they are committed to reaching an agreement with residents over their parade along the lower Ormeau Road.

On Thursday, spokesman for the Apprentice boys, Tommy Cheevers, said he believed the issue could be resolved.

Garbhan O'Doherty, co-chairman of the Derry talks
Garbhan O'Doherty: "We can consider the talks a success"
Derry talks co-chairman Garbhan O'Doherty said the Ormeau Road decision affected the Derry talks outcome in that "it was a complication that was eliminated".

The Parades Commission said it had invited two mediators to enter into talks with the Apprentice Boys in Belfast and the Lower Ormeau Concerned Community (LOCC) residents group, which opposes their parades.

They have been asked to seek a deal about which Apprentice Boys parades should be allowed along the mainly nationalist lower Ormeau Road in the period through to December 2002.

In its determination the commission said it would be "desirable for a limited, orderly Apprentice Boys' parade" to take place along the Lower Ormeau Road some time before the end of this year.

The commission added that a ballot conducted in the Lower Ormeau area last week, which found 90% opposition among nationalist residents to loyal order parades, was not a determining factor in its decision to restrict the feeder parade.

Parade decision welcomed

LOCC spokesman Gerard Rice welcomed the decision and said the result of the poll would not be used as a hindrance to talks.

"I think the next step for us all is for the Apprentice Boys to sit down with ourselves and help build a process that we can all have confidence in."

Bogside residents spokesman Donncha MacNiallais
Donncha MacNiallais: "Agreement is not a victory for anyone"

However, the Apprentice Boys Governor said that while he was pleased about the Derry outcome he was "bitterly disappointed" by the commission's decision on the Ormeau Road.

Mr Simpson said the Ballynafeigh Apprentice Boys had been talking continuously to the Lower Ormeau Concerned Community group.

But he said he was hopeful that an Apprentice Boys parade would be allowed along the lower Ormeau Road later in the year.

Previous trouble

In Derry, in previous years, business leaders have been successful in helping residents and the Apprentice Boys come to agreement.

But last August, in the absence of agreement, the Derry and Belfast Apprentice Boys marches were given the go-ahead by the commission.

There were scuffles and minor injuries on the Ormeau Road after nationalists attempted to block the march route and in Derry some businesses were damaged during disturbances in the city centre.

Meanwhile, the Parades Commission has imposed restrictions on a number of Apprentice Boys feeder parades planned for Saturday.

Among those affected are Bellaghy, County Londonderry; Dunloy, County Antrim and Castlederg, County Tyrone.

The commission also placed route restrictions on an Orange Order parade in Portadown, County Armagh, on Sunday, and some conditions on a nationalist march in Lurgan on Friday.

The Northern Ireland Parades Commission was established in 1997 to determine whether conditions should be placed on contentious parades in Northern Ireland.

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See also:

07 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
Ruling delayed on NI parade
03 Dec 99 | Northern Ireland
The Apprentice Boys' march
08 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Protestant Marches: A line in the sand
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No agreement in parades issue
04 Dec 99 | Northern Ireland
Parade hailed as 'flagship'
17 Aug 99 | Northern Ireland
Derry parades trouble blights investment hopes
16 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Festival to re-enact city siege
02 Nov 99 | Northern Ireland
Derry parades solution 'possible' - residents
09 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
Apprentice Boys' march restricted
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