Apprentice Boy Gary Middleton says the cry remains ‘No Surrender’ despite the buffeting of Storm Desmond and the inconvenience of hoax bomb alerts at the Waterside railway station and Quarry Steps on Saturday.
The DUP MLA was among the many who braved the elements to take part in the most important celebration in the Apprentice Boys of Derry‘s calendar, the annual Shutting of the Gates commemoration.
“On Saturday while those on parade were battered by storm Desmond and security alerts the cry was No Surrender. Those who paraded remembered those who spent 105 days besieged under a lot worse circumstances and nothing was going to stop this city honouring the garrison and the apprentice boys of the siege of Derry,” said Mr Middleton.
“They gave sacrifice for the rights we have today because after the Siege King William wrote the bill of rights. The Londonderry DUP condemn the recent bomb alerts in our city that obviously were an attempt to disrupt the famous celebration of culture, tradition and diversity on Saturday.
“The annual Apprentice Boys Shutting of the Gates parade celebrates one of the longest sieges in British History and today the whole history of our walled city is a major tourist attraction bringing much revenue with thousands wanting to visit,” added the local MLA.
There was considerable disruption on Saturday as a result of the hoax bomb alerts.
Area Commander, Chief Inspector Tony Callaghan said: “The security operation commenced following claims that explosive devices had been left in the area of Quarry Steps and the railway station.”
He added: “Whilst we have conducted a detailed search of the area I would ask local people to remain vigilant and, If you see any suspicious objects, please do not touch them but inform police immediately by dialling 999.”
Mr Middleton said those responsible were out of touch.
“The slow learners have not yet realised that this city Londonderry is an example of how culture and diversity can be celebrated with no offence to anyone.
“The garrison of Londonderry secured what the Apprentice Boys stand for ‘civil and religious liberty for all’ and those who want to try and disrupt historical fact will continue to fail.
“We commend the PSNI, Translink, city centre manager and the Apprentice Boys marshals for their hard work in making sure that this historical event was not disrupted,” he said.
Mr Middleton expressed thanks to Cornerstone Church and staff at the Foyle Arena for providing shelter for those marooned by the alert.
He continued: “I would like to express thanks to Cornerstone Church and to everyone at the Foyle Arena who allowed many of those affected to take shelter. This was very welcome, particularly given the very stormy weather conditions we experienced today. I would also like to thank Translink for providing extra buses to ensure that those who had hoped to travel by train were able to return home and the PSNI who, as ever, put themselves on the front-line keeping people safe.”