A Londonderry councillor has called for an end to the annual Lundy parade in Derry’s city centre and branded the burning of the effigy as people tried to shop “distasteful.”
Gary Donnelly, an independent, was speaking after the annual event took place in the city centre on Saturday.
Councillor Donnelly said the disruption associated with the “outdated practise” needed to end.
DUP Foyle MLA Gary Middleton, however, said that the parade added to the cultural offering of the city. Mr Middleton said that Saturday’s parade passed off without incident and was attracting a growing number of participants and tourists, with an economic spin-off for the city.
Counter to this, councillor Donnelly argued the staging of the parade was having a negative impact on shoppers and traders.
He said: “Thousands of adults parade around the city centre on a number of occasions on what should be one of the busiest shopping days for beleaguered city centre traders. Already crippled with massive rates and low economic activity this is a further burden they could do without.”
He added that parking was severely restricted and “a heavy police presence” with stop and search operations in nearby nationalist areas were putting shoppers off travelling into town, while taxi drivers were also impacted.
He added: “Tensions associated with this coat trailing parade could be eased if it was moved from the city centre.
“I am calling for a survey to be carried out on city centre businesses to ascertain the views of local traders. Something similar to the one carried out in the Bogside regarding the August 15th fire located there."
“Subjecting Christmas shoppers, including young children, to the spectacle of grown ups, some with alcohol consumed, cheering the burning of an effigy of someone they don’t like is distasteful to say the least.”
Mr. Middleton, however, said the parade was a cultural highlight of the city’s events calendar.
He said: “First of all quite a few people there had commented after the parade on how well it went. There was a very large turnout and it was a very peaceful atmosphere. That was something we witnessed. Furthermore, there seemed to be an increase in the amount of tourists watching the parade.
“As for traders, I personally believe the trade was still strong. We had hundreds of people staying overnight in hotels on Friday night, with an increase in trade and bars and restaurants did extremely well. I don’t buy into the argument that this is somehow detrimental. I think it adds to the culture of our city.
Mr. Middleton added: “It is becoming more and more peaceful each year and that is not down to coincidence, that’s down to the hard work of the Apprentice Boys, the marshals and the civic and business leaders.
"I respect the fact that not everybody in the city centre on Saturday was there to see the parade, but those that did go enjoyed their day and used the local facilities and there was no incidents whatsoever of violence or disruption that I am aware of,” concluded the local MLA.