On Saturday night (12th August), petrol bombs and missiles were fired at police near the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall in Derry/Londonderry following the Apprentice Boys parade in the city.
The Apprentice Boys are a branch of the Protestant Loyal Orders, and their annual parade through Londonderry is in commemoration of the Siege of Derry. During this Siege in 1689, the approaching army of Catholic King James II were kept from entering the city due to 13 apprentice boys slamming the gates shut. The organisation were therefore formed through this defiant act of “no surrender.”
Parades by the Apprentice Boys through or near Catholic areas in the city, such as the Bogside, have often led to clashes.
The main parade on Saturday passed off peacefully, however at 10.45pm police received reports that up to 20 petrol bombs and other missiles were thrown at officers in the Fahan Street area. The nearby Memorial Hall was busy with members socialising after the parade.
Five people were arrested on suspicion of public disorder offences throughout the day, according to the PSNI.
Local DUP members also received criticism throughout the day for being photographed under a banner with the British Armed Forces insignia and Parachute Regiment featured. The Parachute Regiment were infamously placed in Northern Ireland during The Troubles, sent in to keep the peace in the region but are still known to have engaged in sectarian behaviour, such as on Bloody Sunday in 1972.
DUP MLA Gary Middleton noted the photo was “not about sticking two fingers up to the Bloody Sunday families” in the wake of British soldiers involved in the violence facing murder charges.
Raymond McCartney, a Sinn Fein MLA, noted that the image does appear as provocative, and must be considered in the context of the history of Derry.