28 October 2005

Parades agreement could be close


A resolution to parade disputes in Derry is said to be close

A long-term resolution to parade disputes in Derry between the Apprentice Boys and the Bogside Residents' Group may be imminent.

Derry businessman Garbhan O'Doherty said he is hopeful the two sides are nearing an understanding.

Mr O'Doherty has been mediating between the groups.

The agreement would ensure talks over feeder parades for the annual August march would involve "housekeeping" issues rather than fundamental ones.

Mr O'Doherty did not want to be drawn on the detail of the talks, but he did confirm they had intensified and there was reason to hope the decade-long dispute was reaching a long-term solution.

"All of the interested parties are working on the long-term resolution to the Apprentice Boys marching issue in the city," Mr O'Doherty said.

"Papers have been filed by the various parties including the chamber of commerce and work is ongoing and it is hoped a resolution will follow shortly."

A meeting involving the interested parties is scheduled for next Monday. Mr O'Doherty, a member of Derry's chamber of commerce, has been involved in mediation between the loyal orders and residents' groups in the city for several years.

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

It has proved contentious when marchers enter the mainly nationalist west bank of the city, and the issue of "feeder" parades to the main march has also caused controversy.

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