Saturday’s Apprentice Boys’ parades passed off without major violence following an order against one parade in north Belfast.
In Maghera, serious trouble was also averted when an Apprentice Boys parade voluntarily turned back from a nationalist protest in the town.
The most contentious Apprentice Boys parade in north Belfast passed off without incident a Parades Commission ruling for marchers to be bussed through the nationalist Ardoyne shops area was adhered to.
Apprentice Boys spokesman Tommy Cheevers handed over a letter of protest to police before 25 marchers and 30 accompanying bandsmen boarded a bus to bring them past a nationalist protest.
However, senior unionists warned of further protests.
Residents’ spokesman Gerard McGuigan said they were glad the parade had gone off without incident.
“The sad thing is that this entire situation could have been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction if the Apprentice Boys had agreed to speak to Ardoyne residents. Despite our best eff-orts they refused to talk to us.”
Sinn Féin assembly member Gerry Kelly expressed satisfaction that Saturday’s events had ended without incident.
“The loyalist parades forum says that it wants to talk to nationalist residents and I welcome that,” he said.
“But instead of waiting until we face the same problems next year why can we not sit down together in September and try to solve the issue of contentious marches.”
In Derry, some petrol bombs were thrown at the PSNI police during the main parade to commemorate a 17th century Protestant success against Catholics forces in the city.
More than 10,000 Protestants accompanied by 150 bands marched through the city centre, effectively shutting down the predominately Catholic city.
Some band members acted in a provocative manner, refusing to abide by the instruction not to play at specific times and flagrantly displaying a paramilitary flag.
PSNI erected large security barriers in the Diamond area of the city centre where in the past nationalist youths have clashed with Apprentice Boys.
Local Sinn Féin representative Raymond McCartney praised local residents for their discipline despite the provocation.
“So much for the promise by the PSNI and the Apprentice Boys that they would not tolerate the display of paramilitary flags but despite this Derry nationalists refuse to be provoked,” he said.
However, Mr McCartney said he would be asking Gerry Adams to protest to the British government at “punitive actions” of the British Army in mounting checkpoints at both ends of the Foyle Bridge following the march yesterday.
“It was bad enough that freedom of movement was all but non-existent in Derry City centre throughout the day without the only exit and entry route being disrupted by these arbitrary actions,” he said.
In Maghera in county Derry, a highly contentious feeder parade was voluntarily rerouted after nationalist residents blocked the main road. Local residents had accused the Parades Commission of caving in to threats by unionist paramilitaries and were determined the coat-trailing march would not proceed.
There was praise for a decision by the PSNI and the local order of the Apprentice Boys not to attempt to force the march through the strongly nationalist village.