CULTURE Minister Carál Ní Chuilín appears willing to discount a publicly-funded report on the economic benefits of Protestant band parades.
The Orange Order commissioned report - funded by Nelson McCausland’s Department of Social Development (DSD) - was conducted by RSM McClure Watters and published in May.
It estimated the Apprentice Boys’ Easter and Relief of Derry demonstrations are attended by 20k to 30k people each year.
It highlighted the economic benefits of other loyal order demonstrations across Northern Ireland. But Ms Ní Chuilín - asked by UUP MLA Michael Copeland for a susbsantial comment on ‘A Report on the Socio-Economic Impact of the Traditional Protestant Parading Sector in Northern Ireland’ - gave a lukewarm response.
Ms Ní Chuilín stated: “ I am aware of the research findings in the DSD funded report but I note that the figures quoted do not take account of the negative impacts on both tourism and potential investment caused by the disruption and trouble linked to contentious parades.
“My Department, through the Arts Council and the Ulster Scots Agency currently provides funding to marching bands from all communities to maintain and develop the level of music making within the sector.”
The report strangely omitted to mention the ABOD Shutting of the Gates, parade in its survey.
But it did point out that: “An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 people attend the Apprentice Boys of Derry annual Easter and Relief of Derry commemorations.” The consultants said the Boys’ Relief of Derry parade on August 12 generates around £2k for the local council.
“In Londonderry/Derry, 40 street licences were issued for the Apprentice Boys March (August),” the report explains.