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Mediation in Practice - A Case Study of Derry / Londonderry

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Text:Art of Mediation Project (Ed. Grainne Kelly) ... Page Compiled: Fionnuala McKenna

The following case study has been contributed by the authors and editor, with the permission of the publishers. The views expressed in this chaper do not necessarily reflect the views of the members of the CAIN Project. The CAIN Project would welcome other material which meets our guidelines for contributions.

The chapter will also be available as a downloadable document which can saved and opened in 'Word'.

This case study is from the publication:

Mediation in Practice
A Report of the Art of Mediation Project

Edited by Grainne Kelly (1998)

Initiated by
Londonderry Rotary Club
INCORE (Initiative on Conflict Resolution and Ethnicity)

ISBN 1 85923 100 4 (pbk)

Orders to:

Local bookshops or:
Aberfoyle House
Northland Road
BT48 7JA

This chapter is copyright the Art of Mediation Project and is included on the CAIN site by permission of INCORE. You may not edit, adapt, or redistribute changed versions of this for other than your personal use without the express written permission of the publishers. Redistribution for commercial purposes is not permitted.

Mediation in Practice
A Report of the Art of Mediation Project
Edited by Grainne Kelly


Preface by Ian Young

Phase 1 The Art of Mediation Workshop

The Need to Talk - Internationally by Sue Williams

Developing Peace: The South African Experience of the Role of Civil Society
In Facilitation and Mediation by Theuns Eloff

The Difficult and the Possible - Mediation in Northern Ireland

by Brendan McAllister

Phase 2 - Mediation in Practice in Northern Ireland

The INCORE Research Report by Grainne Kelly and Susan Allen Nan


Mediation and Related Processes in the Context of Parades Disputes

A Sample of Mediatory Roles in Marching Disputes

Case Study 1 - Bellaghy

Case Study 2 - Dunloy

Case Study 3 - Dromore

Case Study 4 - Newtownbutler

Case Study 5 - Derry/Londonderry

Case Study 6 - Ormeau Road



Phase - 3 The Challenges and Complexities of Mediation Initiatives

Experiences of Mediation in a variety of international settings and responses

to the INCORE research report.


CASE STUDY 5 - Derry / Londonderry

In this study, we aim to highlight the apprehension with which the city of Derry approaches the marching season in the past number of years and the attempts which have been made to diffuse tensions over the contentious issue of loyal orders parading near predominantly nationalist areas of the city. Within this study one can recognise a number of valiant attempts which were made to reach a mediated solution both in 1996 and 1997, when a number of different mediatory actors were involved.

Derry, with a population of around 75,000 is the second largest city in Northern Ireland. An historic city, it boasts a long history of conflict, from the Siege of Derry in the seventeenth century to the birth of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. The only city in Western Europe with the old city walls still intact Londonderry is traversed by the River Foyle and internal migration within the city has ensured that the west bank of the river is predominantly Catholic, (save one 'Protestant enclave' known as the Fountain) while the east bank or Waterside, although mixed religiously and politically, is perceived as being the more 'Protestant' side of the city.

The main parade of contention in the city is the annual Apprentice Boys 'Relief of Derry' celebrations, traditionally held on the Saturday closest to the 12th of August. This is an important day in the calendar of the Apprentice Boys and as Jarman and Bryan comment, Coming to Derry for the Relief celebrations has been likened to a pilgrimage in which walking the walls is the central act of homage, which reconnects the present day Apprentice Boys with the defenders of 1689.[1] The day is marked by two parades, the first comprising the Parent Clubs of the Apprentice Boys parading in the city. Before 1969 this entailed the clubs marching the full circuit of the city walls, however, with the closing of sections of the walls for security reasons in 1970, the order began parading within, rather than on the walls.[2] The Apprentice Boys have always applied to walk the full circuit of the walls. Between 1970 and 1994 permission was refused as the walls were closed off.[3] In 1995, the circuit of the walls was officially re-opened as a tourist attraction. Therefore, when applying to walk the walls the Apprentice Boys were not displaying a change of tactic, but merely continuing a long-standing practice of marching the walls of Derry. Later the same day, the full membership of the organisation parade from the Waterside to the Diamond in the centre of the city, before re-crossing the river and returning to their own homes, towns or villages.

Disputed Parades and Mediatory Efforts

Problems began to arise in the city in 1995 when, as a result of the paramilitary ceasefires, the city walls became fully accessible to the public and the governor of the Apprentice Boys, Alastair Simpson, applied for the organisation to walk its full circuit. This would entail parading the length of the walls that overlooked the Bogside, an exclusively nationalist area of the city, an act which many Bogside residents felt was provocative and liable to cause significant trouble. According to Jarman and Bryan, in the lead up to the 1995 parade The SDLP called on all parties to exercise restraint and invited the Apprentice Boys to discuss the matter of the parade with them. This failed to produce a response from the Apprentice Boys. They also refused an invitation from the Mayor of Derry who wanted to discuss both their proposed route and his own suggestion of a three year moratorium on all parades in the city centre.[4] No decision on the parade was made until the last minute. The Bogside Residents Group (BRG) was formed in order to oppose the parade along the section of the walls that overlooks the Bogside. According to the group The Apprentice Boys made no effort to sound out any section of nationalist opinion in the city prior to filing for the parade around the Walls and thus compounded the reaction.[5]

The day before the parade was intended to take place members of the BRG occupied sections of the walls and, throughout the night, attempts were made to come to an accommodation about the parade. Although it was reported that the Apprentice Boys offered some concessions that they would impose on their parade, these did not prove sufficient to end the protest which lasted into the following day. By the next morning the situation was extremely tense and the security presence was very high. The RUC presented some options and concessions to the protesters which were deemed unacceptable. Shortly after 9am the RUC moved in on the protesters and removed them physically from the walls. The Apprentice Boys paraded the full circuit of the walls and on to their church service in the Cathedral, where the nationalist protesters, surrounded by RUC officers, stood outside in silent protest.

The second part of the day saw the main parade leave the Waterside in the afternoon. However, trouble erupted when a band which was accompanying the parade began to play loudly at a group of nationalists. Missiles were thrown from both sides. When the RUC moved in to clear the Diamond area of the city they too were attacked with missiles and petrol bombs. Rioting ensued for a number of hours causing tens of thousands of pounds of damage.

The backdrop against which the city faced the prospect of the 1996 Apprentice Boys parade in the city was bleak. Following the stand-off at Drumcree, which damaged community relations and led to many days of rioting in Londonderry[6] as nationalists vented their anger at the RUC, the city waited with a strong sense of foreboding as to what would occur on the 10th of August Relief of Derry celebrations.

In the lead-up to the march the BRG sought meetings with the Apprentice Boys to discuss the route of the parade. A strong argument was being put forward by members of the nationalist community in the city that the Apprentice Boys parade be confined to the east bank of the city altogether, and thus their route should be halted at the Craigavon bridge. It was reported[7] around this time that, in a new tactic, the group has joined with residents of the lower. Ormeau and Garvaghy Road in seeking 'immediate and meaningful negotiations' with. the Apprentice Boys, the Orange Order and the Black Preceptory. In a joint statement, the residents group expressed the hope that such negotiations would lead to a universal agreement covering all contentions marches. During July and August the BRG organised a total of 7 marches and rallies to protest against what they saw as unequal treatment and second-class citizenship for nationalists.

Progress appeared to be made as representatives of the Apprentice Boys and the BRG met on July 26th, under the chairmanship of the local NIP, John Hume. The initiative to hold meetings came from members of the Ulster Community Action Network, Londonderry (UCAN). Following a meeting of community leaders from the Londonderry area, David Nicholl of the Network said he felt compelled to somehow relay what we had heard to those who would be involved in the dispute that lay ahead[8] and so approached members of the Holywell Trust, a community organisation based in the city, in an effort to move the situation along. Mr Nicholl, although facing some opposition from members of his own community, wished to hold a meeting with the Bogside Residents Group, which they did. Following a meeting between Donncha Mac Niallais and Charles Lamberton of the BRG and David Nicholl and Lexie McFetters of UCAN, members of the Apprentice Boys and Mr Hume were contacted in an effort to set up a meeting with the two sides.

After further discussions the Holywell Trust offices were chosen as the venue for the first face-to-face meeting between the representatives of the BRG and Apprentice Boys, chaired by John Hume. The discussions were described as intensive but constructive and although no accommodation was reached, both sides did agree to consider each others proposals before meeting again. This encounter was particularly significant given the presence of Donncha Mac Niallais[9] who the Apprentice Boys had previously insisted they would not speak to. However, local DUP councillor and Apprentice Boy William Hay said the loyalist body had no difficulty meeting and talking to Mr Mac Niallais as an ordinary citizen of the Bogside.[10] Donncha Mac Niallais, for his part, said that the meeting offered us the opportunity to consider our respective positions, acid the BRG outlined the 6 principles which we believed can create the basis for agreement[11]. These principles involved the issue of consent, something which would prove to be a sticking point in the discussions.

The BRG and the Apprentice Boys met for a second time on the 31st of July. The venue for the meeting was changed to the Guildhall as it was felt that the Holywell Trust venue had been compromised by media involvement. Again, this meeting was described as constructive and positive by John Hume. Although no resolution was reached, each side made a commitment to return to their members to discuss the possibility of coming to an agreement. However, it became clear that problems were beginning to arise. The Apprentice Boys accused the BRG of demanding things they knew they could not deliver on such as demanding that the RUC play no part in policing the event, suggesting that the parade be policed by stewards supplied by the Apprentice Boys and the residents of the Bogside. The Apprentice Boys felt this decision was not theirs to make and was a matter for the RUC. However, both sides handed over their own set of proposals which were taken away for discussion with the respective members. It emerged that the BRG could see no accommodation in Derry unless the Apprentice Boys accepted that they would not be parading in other nationalist areas - such as the Lower Ormeau and Bellaghy, without the consent of the residents. With two weeks to go until the 10th of August there had been no dialogue between the local Apprentice Boys and the residents in these communities.

Another meeting was held on the 5th of August, (again at a different venue in the city, in an attempt to avoid media intrusion) where the proposals which had been exchanged between the residents and the Apprentice Boys were discussed. The Apprentice Boys proposals read:

Accommodation Suggested by the Apprentice Boys of Derry Association, to Reach Agreement with the Londonderry Community for the 307th Anniversary of the Relief of Londonderry on 10th August 1996

1. Pre 1970 Parent and Branch Clubs were marshalled on the Walls prior to Parading. Apprentice Boys now accept, because of security, this is not feasible.

2. Finale to commemoration, Parent and Branch Clubs, plus bands, paraded the entire circuit of walls. Apprentice Boys now accept this is also not possible for security reasons.

3. Parent Clubs now request permission to walk entire circuit, at a time, early in the morning, which would create the least inconvenience (Parent Club membership consists only of Londonderry Members and numbers approximately 250 on parade).

4. Each Club engages a local band to lead them on Parade. Parent Clubs will reduce numbers of bands on the Walls to an agreed number.

5. Bands engaged will not play on the section of the walls which are controversial e.g. Bishop's Gate to Butcher Gate.

6. Screens can be erected on Walls overlooking Bogside. Coils of barbed wire can be placed round perimeter to prevent Apprentice Boys from looking into the Bogside area.

7. Only members of our Association and Bands engaged, will be permitted on the Walls. Supporters with no connection with our Association will be prevented front gaining access to the Walls.

8. Section of the Walls deemed as potential flash point, can be closed by Security Forces after our Walk to prevent problems arising at later stages in our proceedings.

9. Any Member of our Association guilty of mis-conduct will be dealt with by General Committee Possible expulsion.

The BRG submitted their discussion document, which read:

Discussion document submitted by the Bogside Residents' Group (without prejudice) to the Apprentice Boys' Association.

The Bogside Residents' Group submits this discussion document for consideration, and as a basis for negotiation to the representatives of the Governing committees of the Apprentice Boys' of Derry and we do so without prejudice to either side.

The purpose of the discussion document is:
(1) To clarify the views of the Bogside Residents' Group to the Apprentice Boys and
(2) To suggest possible ways forward in the search for accommodation

The Bogside Residents' Group for its part wishes to state that we seek a genuine accommodation with the Apprentice Boys' Association with regard to what are perceived by nationalists as contentious parades. We seek an accommodation which will genuinely meet the concerns of all parties and which will begin a process of building agreements which will allow everyone in our society to celebrate their culture as well as to pursue their political objectives legitimately.

The Bogside Residents' Group for its part sees these discussions and negotiations as the beginning of a process. This process must start from the realities created by the Drumcree stand-off and the forced Orange parades through the Garvaghy Road and Lower Onneau Road and the anger, bitterness and alienation which this has generated amongst nationalists and others towards the Loyal Institutions and the Unionist leadership. The objective of this process must, nevertheless, be to build sufficient trust and agreement to allow the Apprentice Boys' commemorations in Den-y to be occasions feared by no one and appreciated and accepted by the overwhelming majority of the citizens of the city, Unionist and Nationalist. We believe that an agreement between the Bogside Residents' Group and the Apprentice Boys' Association will do much to enhance the quality of life within the city of Derry, to improve community relations and to show the way forward for other groups throughout the North of Ireland.

Specifically the Bogside Residents' Group wishes to state that it is not our intention or desire to drive Unionist/Protestants from the west bank of the city or from the city in general. We positively welcome and support diversity and wish to live in a city which is shared and valued by all its citizens. We believe family that accommodation between the Apprentice Boys' Association and the Bogside Residents' Group will send the clearest possible signal to all that we want to live in a shared city in which those who are of a Unionist and Protestant persuasion will feel as at home, comfortable and at case as those of a Nationalist persuasion.

It is also our belief that if the real concerns of the constituency we represent are addressed by the Apprentice Boys' Association, the annual Apprentice Boys parade in Derry could be a significant occasion for all citizens of the city.

With this in mind we make the following points.

(1) the principle of consent
We do not wish to construe the principle of consent as indicating that Apprentice Boys must seek permission of nationalists to be Apprentice Boys or to determine how they must celebrate their culture. We see the process of negotiation and accommodation as the practical outworking of the principle of consent, both for the Apprentice Boys and for the Bogside Residents' Group.

However we must reach an accommodation which applies to all Apprentice Boys' parades throughout the North of Ireland, specifically which applies in those areas where they are currently unwelcome. There can be no accommodation in Derry unless there is acceptance by the Apprentice Boys Association that they will not parade in those areas (eg Lower Ormeau Road, Bellaghy etc.) except with the consent of the local residents. If the Apprentice Boys Association are unwilling to agree to this we for our part will he unwilling and unable to broker an agreement in Derry city. What follows is conditional on the acceptance by the Apprentice Boys Association of the following points.

(2) the city walls
The Bogside Residents Group accepts the historic importance to the Apprentice Boys Association of the city of Derry itself, its Anglican cathedral and the city walls. We are prepared to recommend to the Bogside Residents, in good faith and initially for this year (1996) that 13 apprentice boys should walk the walls, without bands, at approximately 9.00 am in the morning. Furthermore the Apprentice Boys' Association with the Bogside Residents' Group, will put in place arrangements to see the Apprentice Boys do not gather on the west walls before, during or after the parade. (See stewarding)

(3) the city centre
The Bogside Residents' Group accepts the importance to members of the Apprentice Boys Association of parading within the city walls and past St. Columb's Cathedral. We are prepared to recommend to the Bogside residents, in good faith and initially for this year (1996) that the main route of the parade both from and to the Waterside should be: Carlisle Road, Ferryquay Street, Pump Street, London Street, Hawkin Street etc.

(4) stewarding
The Bogside Residents' Group will not be party to endorsing a role for the RUC in the stewarding of the various parts of the commemoration. We wish to discuss in detail the stewarding arrangements of the parade and for our part the Bogside Residents' Group are prepared to recommend to residents that some of them should be involved in a stewarding role to see that the parade is carried out peacefully, without provocation from nationalists, and in an orderly and good humoured manner.

(5) review
The Bogside Residents' Group propose that if agreement on all the above issues is reached that a review group should be established, with an agreed independent chair, to monitor all aspects of the 1996 parade and to make recommendations for future parades. The composition of this review group would need to be discussed but it might include a range of interests.

We are all conscious of the need to try and reach an agreement. In order to facilitate this we would suggest:

(1) both sides agree that if an accommodation can be reached that they will take it to their respective constituent bodies for ratification.
(2) that we seek to reach agreement by Wednesday, 7 August at the latest
(3) that we agree not to speak to the media until such time as we have something useful to say about these meetings
(4) that each side nominate one facilitator, outside of their respective groups, whose role is to help each group explore possible ways forward and to aid John Hume in chairing the meetings
(5) that irrespective of any outcome from these negotiations both groups agree to meet again after the 10 August parade.
2nd draft

The meeting at which these position papers were presented ended in stalemate after two hours of face- to-face negotiations. It became apparent that the two sides had become stuck on two key issues - how many Apprentice Boys should walk the walls on Saturday and whether any resolution of the issue should be part of an all-embracing settlement on contentious parades in general.

Draft text of (proposed) joint statement by the Apprentice Boys' of Derry Association and the Bogside Residents' Group.

1. This is an agreed statement issued on behalf of the Apprentice Boys' of Derry Association and the Bogside Residents Group concerning the Apprentice Boys' Annual Commemoration on Saturday, 10th August 1996.

2. The Bogside Residents' Group states its express wish to live in a city which is shared and valued by all its citizens. It believes that this accommodation between the Apprentice Boys' Association and the Bogside Residents' Group will send the clearest possible signal that we want to live in a shared city in which those who are of a Unionist and/or Protestant persuasion will feel at home, comfortable and at ease with those of a Nationalist or non-Unionist persuasion. The Bogside Residents' Group asserts that the principle of consent is the only acceptable basis on which the issue of parades that are seen as contentious can be resolved. The Bogside Residents' Group do not construe the principle of consent as being one where they seek to determine how Apprentice Boys may celebrate their culture. Instead the Bogside Residents' Group sees the process of negotiation and accommodation as the practical outworking of the principle of consent.

3. The Apprentice Boys' of Derry Association states that it exists to uphold religious and civil liberty for all and to commemorate the relief of Derry primarily through its two commemorations within the city. It is not the intention or desire of the Apprentice Boys' Association to give offence to anyone. The Apprentice Boys' Association accepts that a small number of parades which are organised by it and its affiliated clubs are seen as contentious. While aft-inning our belief that our parades should not give offence, we publicly state that where they do so we will not parade until such times as consent is secured.

4. The Bogside Residents' Group accepts the historic importance to the Apprentice Boys' Association of the city of Derry itself, St Columb's cathedral, and the city walls.

5. The Apprentice Boys' Association states its intention that only thirteen members of the Association, symbolising the original thirteen Apprentice Boys, will walk the walls beginning at approximately ( time to be agreed ).

6. The Apprentice Boys' Association and the Bogside Residents' Group agree to jointly steward the west walls of the city until the end of the day's commemorations. For its part the Apprentice Boys' Association states that it will actively prevent members of the Apprentice Boys from going on to the west walls other than those permitted to parade or those designated as stewards.

7. The Apprentice Boys' states that the main parade on 10th August 1996 will follow the following route on the west bank of the city: Carlisle Circus, Carlisle Road, Ferryquay Street, Flump Street, London Street, Hawkin Street, Kennedy Place, Wapping Lane, Carlisle Circus and the Bogside Residents' Group accept this.

8. The Bogside Residents' Group states that it will not be party to endorsing a role for the RUC in the policing or stewarding of the various parts of the commemoration. The Apprentice Boys' Association states that it will ask the RUC to take note of the views of the Bogside Residents' Group and to take these views into consideration when making their policing arrangements.

9. The Apprentice Boys' Association states that it is the Association's responsibility to steward its members whilst on parade and the Bogside Residents' Group accepts this. The Apprentice Boys Association also states that it will take disciplinary action against any member of the Association who acts in a manner likely to cause offence, including expulsion.

10. The Bogside Residents' Group states that it will provide stewards, clearly identified, at specified inter-face areas of the Parades. The purpose of these stewards will be to see that the parade is carried off peacefully. These inter-face areas are: the west walls, Ferryquay Street and Abercorn Road and the Apprentice Boys' Association accepts this. Both the Apprentice Boys' Association and the Bogside Residents' Group agree to establish appropriate liaison arrangements for the day.

11. The Bogside Residents' Group gratefully acknowledges the support and help it has received from the Lower Ormeau Road Concerned Community, the Garvaghy Road Residents' Coalition and other residents' groups.

12. The Apprentice Boys' Association and the Bogside Residents' Group state that it is their intention to meet shortly after 10th August. They both agree to establish a review group, with an agreed independent chair, to monitor all aspects of the 10th August 1996 parade and to make recommendations for future parades. Both the Apprentice Boys' Association and the Bogside Residents' Group agree that the review group should reflect a variety of perspectives from within the city.

13. The Apprentice Boys' Association and the Bogside Residents' Group commend this approach of dialogue and accommodation. They affirm that they will do all that is in their power to encourage other organisations to seek agreement, consent and accommodation as the best way forward to the issue of contentious parades.

The two groups did meet for a fourth time on the 6th of August. However, this proved to be the last meeting the two sides had together as the negotiations collapsed. The governor of the Apprentice Boys said it was impossible to reach an agreement with the BRG as they kept 'changing the goalposts.'[12] The Apprentice Boys remained adamant that they would walk the full circuit of the walls and through the city centre. With both sides deadlocked, the decision on whether the Apprentice Boys would walk the walls was placed firmly with the RUC. On Wednesday August 7, the Northern Secretary Sir Patrick Mayhew, on the advice of the Chief Constable Sir Hugh Annesely, took the decision to prohibit all parades along the stretch of the city walls which overlooks the Bogside between the 7th and 31st of August and sealed off the section of the walls which overlooks the Bogside in an effort to prevent serious disorder. The decision was met with anger from Apprentice Boys, however, members of the Protestant community appealed to their wider constituency to remain calm.

The parade went ahead on Saturday the 10th. The Apprentice Boys marched in the city, but not on the city walls, without major incident. The Governor of the Apprentice Boys did announce to the gathering of members and supporters that the organisation would march the entire walls at a future date of their own choosing. Rioting broke out in the city later that night as nationalists attacked RUC officers, and although several people were arrested for public order offences the damage was not as extensive as in the previous month. The city breathed a sigh of relief that the day had passed off relatively peacefully. There was however, trouble in other areas, most notably in Dunloy. (See Dunloy case study)

In the aftermath of the parade, however, Alastair Simpson vowed not to renew talks with Derry's BRG until Dontncha Mac Niallais had became less 'dictatorial'[13] Nevertheless, on a positive note he did say that he intended to keep up his contact with other groups and residents of the Bogside as well as John Hume. The Bogside Residents' Group have stated that The Apprentice Boys refusal to talk was churlish and unreasonable. Their. claim that they were 'talking to reasonable people from the Bogside' raises a number of issues - apart from John Hume, who are these people?, do they actually exist? What mandate have they got? And whhat has been the outcome of these deliberations if indeed they happened?[14] Mr Hume said of the process: The dialogue in itself was major. progress. That dialogue was very intense and the fact that the dialogue took place is a major foundation.[15]

In early October, at a specially convened meeting of the Apprentice Boys general committees it was decided the 'postponed' leg of the parade would go ahead on October 19th. They notified the RUC of their intention to parade the entire length of the walk which they had been unable to do in August. The BRG called on the Apprentice Boys to meet with them but they refused to enter into discussions with the group. In protest, the residents planned to hold a counter-demonstration. However, the Apprentice Boys did march the walls without incident; and the matter appears to have lain dormant during the winter months.

As the city faced up to a new wave of marches in 1997 the Parades Commission, formed in March of that year, spent two days in June meeting relevant groups in regard to marches on the west bank of the city. Again, the main problem appeared to be the Apprentice Boys Relief of Derry celebrations in August, although there was the added problem in that the Orange Order were due to have one of their main county parades in the city, for the first time in five years.

The BRG made it clear that they were insisting on direct talks with the Apprentice Boys over the parade issue in August and wished those talks to begin at the earliest date. However, the Apprentice Boys made it equally clear that they would not enter into face-to-face discussions with the BRG, feeling they had been 'fooled' by them the previous year. However, they did indicate that they were keeping lines of communication open with reasonable' eople, including the MP for the area, John Hume. As far as the Orange Order were concerned, leading members of the Londonderry lodge made it clear that they would only meet with the police to discuss their 12th of July parade.

In order to help facilitate dialogue and open discussion to a wider constituency two debates on the issue of parades in Derry were organised by a number of community and reconciliation groups in the city.[16] Invitations were sent to around 80 representatives from the business, church, community and statutory sectors throughout the city for two single identity debates where a number of speakers presented their views from the broadly Protestant/Unionist community and the broadly Catholic/Nationalist community. The attendance at these events, held in the city's Guildhall was good and the debate appeared constructive.

Tensions were raised in the city and widespread rioting occurred in the aftermath of the decision on the 6th of July to force the parade down the Garvaghy Road in Portadown. As a result of the problems which occurred in Derry in 1996 there were widespread fears that some accommodation would have to be reached in the city if these incidents were not to repeat themselves. Recognising the need for the wider community to be involved the Mayor of Derry, SDLP Councillor Martin Bradley (on the suggestion of a number of groups) organised a cross-community meeting, which hoped to include local councillors, voluntary groups, resident groups, representatives of the loyal orders, church leaders and members of the Chambers of Trade and Commerce. Held on the 10th of July, just 2 days before the parade was due to take place in the city, it was of limited success as members of the loyal orders and unionist politicians declined the invitation. Speaking of the meeting the Mayor said My intention was to facilitate dialogue, which could be difficult, but people can channel their feelings and concerns.[17] The meeting did however otter those who attended the opportunity to express their concerns and feelings about the upcoming parades.

No direct discussions were held between any residents groups and the Orange Order over the proposed parade in the city - and up until the 10th of July the Orange Order insisted that it had no intention of changing its plans to walk through the city centre, despite opposition from nationalists. Then, dramatically in the early hours of the 11th of July the Orange Order cancelled their parade in the city, voluntarily re-routing it to Limavady, as they did with three other marches through nationalist areas.[18] All counter-demonstrations against the parade were cancelled (although there were some protests by loyalists at the decision to re-route) and the 12th of July passed off peacefully in the city.

Attention again turned to the Apprentice Boys parade in August. At the end of July the Apprentice Boys Governor, Alastair Simpson, publicly ruled out direct talks with the Bogside Residents Group. The Mayor of Derry made it clear that he was willing to act as an intermediary in the dispute. He held several separate meetings with both sides, throughout the month of July. Again, he invited all interested groups to a meeting in the Guildhall to discuss the August 9th parade. Representatives of the Apprentice Boys declined the invitation and Mr Simpson stated that I don't think a meeting with the Bogside Residents Group wou1d achieve anything, so we have requested a separate meeting with the mayor for later in the week.[19] It appeared that, as in 1996, the main sticking point between the two groups was on the issue of feeder parades on the morning of the main parade in other predominantly nationalist areas in Northern Ireland. The Bogside Residents' Group were insisting that this problem be resolved if a local accommodation were to be reached over the issue. It was expected that the BRG would withdraw their objection to the main parade if nationalists were accommodated in these other areas.

On the 29th of July the Apprentice Boys, in a private meeting with Mayor Bradley and John Hume, put forward proposals for the march indicating that it would address the matter of feeder parades to and from the main march in Londonderry on the 9th of August. The text of the Nine-Point plan offered to the Bogside Residents in 1997 was virually identical to the Apprentice Boys' proposed accommodation of 1996 (see page 52).

The organisation's Secretary, Billy Moore said that this so-called 'nine-point plan', listing the reasons they felt they should be able to walk the walls as well as concessions which could be made in order to facilitate this, represented the best possible chance of a deal and even the BRG would have great difficulty in turning it down.[20] In a meeting that afternoon, again attended by residents groups, community groups, statutory and voluntary bodies and members of the business sector, the Mayor presented the Apprentice Boys nine points to the meeting. The BRG in turn read out their letter which had been sent to the Apprentice Boys stating their position and the concessions that they were willing to make.

To: Mr Alistair Simpson, The Governor,
Apprentice Boys' of Derry Association

24 July 1997

Dear Mr Simpson,

The Bogside Residents' Group believes that as we approach next month's annual commemoration of the relief of the city organised by your association, there is throughout the community a desire that we should resolve our differences and achieve an acceptable accommodation with regard to the 9 August commemorations. We believe that a climate for accommodation has been established by the decision of the Orange Order not to parade in the city on 12 July and by the renewed IRA ceasefire.

Since talks between our two groups ended last August your association has consistently refused to meet with representatives of the Bogside Residents' Group. However the BRG believes that it is in everybody's interest that we should make one last effort to achieve an accommodation between our two groups and it is for this purpose that I am writing to you. I wish to put to you on behalf of the Executive Committee of the Bogside Residents' Group a set of ideas and proposals which we believe could form the basis of an honourable accommodation and which would give everybody a breathing space in which to attempt to tackle the problems which divide us.

As part of such an accommodation the Bogside Residents' Group is prepared to publicly state that it will not oppose the main Apprentice Boys' parade in the city on 9 August. We will not object to or oppose the wreath-laying ceremony at the Diamond, the initiation ceremony in the Memorial Hall or the Touching of the Gates ceremony. We are also prepared to publicly support the proposed pageant based on an re-enactment of the Siege of Derry.

With regard to the proposed parade around the walls, we are prepared to publicly facilitate such a parade subject to the receipt of certain assurances. These assurances would cover the time of parade, numbers, participants, bands, flags and would apply to those parts of the walls which overlook or pass by the Bogside (eg from Bishop's Gate to Magazine Gate). We would also need an assurance that the Union Flag would not be flown from Walker's Plinth.

In order to facilitate such an agreement the Bogside Residents' Group would require assurances from your Association that there will be no Apprentice Boys' feeder parades in Dunloy, Lower Ormeau Road, Belfast and Bellaghy on 9 August. If these are forthcoming, the Bogside Residents' Group is prepared to respond generously and imaginatively. In the event of such an agreement we would, of course, cancel any protests organised by the Group scheduled for the week beginning Monday, 4 August.

The refusal of the Apprentice Boys to meet directly with ourselves continues to create problems for achieving a satisfactory agreement. In the light of this refusal we have asked the Reverend Dr Roy Magee to act as a facilitator/mediator between the two groups and he has agreed to do this, subject to your agreement. It is our understanding that the main reason for your refusal to meet with the Bogside Residents' Group is because you do not wish to participate in meetings which might end in failure. The process we are proposing means that no meetings will take place between our respective organisations except in the event of an agreement facilitated by Dr Magee. We would ask that, in the event of such an agreement, there would be one direct meeting, the successful outcome of which would be guaranteed.

We hope you and your officers will give this letter serious consideration. Our understanding is that Dr Magee will be in touch with you shortly.

Best wishes,
Charles Lamberton, Chair

Proximity-style talks between the BRG and Apprentice Boys began on the 4th of August.[21] The meetings took place in the Guildhall with six members of the BRG in one room and three leading Apprentice Boys in another. The Mayor Martin Bradley, the Rev Roy Magee of the Parades Commission and Ian Young, president of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce acted as go-betweens. Before the meeting began there had been disagreements when the Apprentice Boys objected to being in the same building as the BRG delegation. However, after a refusal of the BRG to leave the building, the talks got underway.[22] Although both sides agreed the meeting was constructive, no agreement was reached as number of difficulties remained unresolved.

The issue of the feeder parades was still proving to be a sticking point, although Alastair Simpson said, after the meeting, that he would do all in his power to ensure the parade passed off peacefully and stated that Meetings are taking place on the so-called feeder. parades.[23] However, in a surprise announcement on the evening of the 4th of August the RUC declared that 'conditions' would be imposed on three feeder parades (Bellaghy, Dunloy and lower Ormeau) on the morning of the 10th. It was hoped by many that this move by the RUC would ease the impasse which had developed between the Apprentice Boys and the BRG. Later that day the BRG stated that there would be no nationalist protest against the parade[24] and urged nationalists to go about their normal business and maintain calm and discipline during the parade.

The morning of the parade was marked with the staging of a pageant depicting the last days of the famous Siege of Derry, an initiative on behalf of the Apprentice Boys in an effort to promote the historical interests of the organisation in the city.[25] There was a number of disturbances on the day of the parade, including a bomb scare, confrontation between loyalist band members and supporters and nationalists around the Diamond area of the city.[26] However, these should not be allowed to overshadow the genuine attempt by both sides to reach an accommodation in the city.


A number of important figures were involved in mediatory behaviour in the city over the past number of years, including; the local MP for the area, the Mayor for the city, members of the Parades Commission, prominent church leaders, members of the Chamber of Commerce as well as members of single-identity and cross community groups in the city. The participation of this wide variety of individuals and groups is encouraging and highlights the importance which has been placed on resolving this dispute in the interests of the city at large. 1997 was significant for the level of organisation and imagination which went into finding ways by which communication between the Apprentice Boys and the Bogside Residents' Group could by facilitated, bearing in mind the difficulties with which they faced in this regard.

It is unfortunate that the events of 1995 led to such bad feeling between the Apprentice Boys and the residents group. However, 'remote' mediation remained a viable alternative. Although, in 1997, the Apprentice Boys would not talk directly to the BRG other avenues of communication remained open and contact was maintained with many groups, including community organisations, local political leaders, the business community and the church, in the knowledge that the Bogside Residents' Group was also in contact with these groups.

Derry has, in the past, been badly affected by events in other areas. Many nationalists in the city feel an allegiance to their counterparts in other areas and tensions are raised when they are perceived to have been treated badly. Although agreement may be successfully made as a local level, the issue of linkages of disputes (which we will return to in the challenges section) remains a significant problem in the city.


1. Neil Jarman and Dominic Bryan, -Parade and Protest: A Discussion of Parading Disputes in Northern Ireland (Centre for the Study of Conflict, Coleraine, 1996), p92
2. Before 1969 the behaviour of the Apprentice Boys was not, according to the Bogside Residents' Group, acceptable; particularly in relation to the throwing of coins from the Walls: 'A practice intended to show contempt for the Catholic residents living below.' (Bogside Residents' Group document to INCORE). They also highlight the effect that the 1969 Apprentice Boys parade had on Northern Ireland as a whole, as the parade lead to the Battle of the Bogside, which they suggest led directly to the re-introduction of British soldiers onto the streets.
3. For a number of years in the 1970s the Apprentice Boys were actually prohibited from parading on the west bank of the city entirely.
4. Jarman and Bryan, op.cit p72
5. Bogside Residents' Group document to INCORE, November, 1997
6. And resulted in the death of one man, and many injuries and arrests of others in the city.
7. The Irish News - 20 July 96
8. Quote taken from a report entitled 'Parade or Protest', a two day seminar examining the issue of contentious parades as a symbol of Protestant Identity, November 1996, St Columbs Park House, Waterside.
9. Mr Mac Niallais is a former republican prisoner.
10. The Irish Times - 27 July 96
11. Ibid
12. BBC radio interview, August 6, 1996
13. The Irish News - 12 August 96
14. Bogside Residents' Group statement to INCORE, November 1997.
15. The Irish News - 12 August 96
16. St. Columbs Park House, Holywell Trust and Community Work Education
17. Belfast Telegraph - 10.7.97
18. Newry, The Shambles, Armagh City and the Lower Ormeau.
19. The Belfast Telegraph - 28 July 97
20. The Londonderry Sentinel - 30 July 97
21. Proximity talks planned for the 1st of July were called off and it appears that there was confusion about the talks which were to be held between the Apprentice Boys and residents under mediation of Rev. Roy Magee. The BRG claimed the Apprentice Boys had withdrawn from the meeting at the last minute. The Apprentice Boys said they had never given firm details of the meeting but had understood that it was an option
22. The Derry Journal - 5 August 97
23. The Irish Times - 5 August 97
24. Although they did raise issue over the flying of union flags on the walls overlooking the Bogside.
25. They obtained a substantial grant from Derry City Council to fund this event.
26. The Apprentice Boys are also in the process of undertaking an internal review of the conduct of certain bands on the day of the parade and their attempts to address public disorder concerns.

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