The annual Shutting of the Gates commemoration on Saturday has been heralded as “a showcase of tolerance” by the General Secretary, Billy Moore.
Such was the success of the spectacle, that the General Committee of the Associated Clubs of Apprentice Boys said it was delighted to extend congratulations to all members who attended to celebrate the 326th anniversary.
“We are pleased that the day passed off peacefully and that many shops opened as normal to offer their goods to the several thousand potential extra shoppers that visited the city for the Parade and Service of Thanksgiving in St Columb’s Cathedral.”
Thanking the PSNI, City Centre Initiative, representatives from trading committees and other groups and individuals who ensured the event was successful and peaceful, he said: “Discussions throughout the year with key stakeholders has identified and established a balanced accommodation that is meaningful for traders and retains the integrity of the Shutting of the Gates Commemoration. The good will and desire for a peaceful event guaranteed the outcome was a showcase of tolerance and respect in the city of Londonderry.
“The Governing Body of the Association confirms our commitment to work with traders and City Centre Initiative to ensure that all Apprentice Boys Parades take place in a welcoming environment. Future discussion and activity will focus on encouraging more onlookers and families to the city centre, as a location to shop and spectate.”
He said the General Committee was also pleased to record thanks and appreciation for Brother Ronald McCausland, who stood down as Lt Governor after seven years in office: “Ronnie will continue to attend General Committee where his dedication and contribution will remain influential. Warm and hearty greetings were conveyed to the new Lt, Governor, Brother Graeme Stenhouse. Graeme was Installed at a special ceremony inside the Walls of Londonderry on Saturday morning prior to the commencement of the Shutting of the Gates Commemoration.
“The 326th Anniversary was another outstanding occasion for the Association. This was without doubt the largest attendance of bands and Apprentice Boys at our December parade. The Association continues to grow and expand with another new Club opening in the Ballymena area in early January. Enquiries have been received about the possibility of opening of a new club in Australia. It is satisfying and rewarding that on this, the 300th anniversary of the birth of the Apprentice Boys that our organisation continues to attract new members and new clubs,” he said.