A Foyle MLA has rejected an Independent Councillor’s demand for an end to the annual Lundy parade in Londonderry’s city centre.
Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly was speaking after the annual event took place in the city centre on Saturday.
Cllr. Donnelly said the disruption associated with the “outdated practise” needed to end and the parade should be moved away from the city centre.
The event, often referred to as Lundy’s Day, is marked on the first Saturday in December, to celebrate the stand taken on that day in 1688 by the thirteen apprentices who shut the gates during the famous siege of Derry.
Addressing Councillor Donnelly’s comments, DUP Foyle MLA Gary Middleton 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.
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.
Councillor Donnelly argued that 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.
“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 15 fire located there.”