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Dissidents call off Derry protest

Republicans planned to protest at same time as Apprentice Boys’ parade.

A PROTEST PLANNED by dissident republicans for Derry tomorrow has been called off. The protest was linked to the Maghaberry prison dispute, which was resolved yesterday.

Dissident republican prisoners at the Derry jail had complained of excessive strip-searching and launched a ‘dirty protest’ against authorities. Prison wardens were offered protective clothing when urine was thrown at them.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Creggan Enterprises from Derry and the Dialogue Advisory Group were all involved in negotiations to end the long-running prison dispute. Agreement was reached on the three issues the prisoners felt were most important.

Northern Ireland’s justice minister David Ford welcomed the resolution of the prison dispute, saying:

A safe, secure and humane prison regime is at the heart of a ‘healthy prison’ and the full compliance of all parties with this agreement will lead to enduring stability.

Yesterday, Minister Micheál Martin appealed to dissidents in Northern Ireland to stop targeting PSNI officers.

The republican protest in Derry was due to take place at the same time as the Apprentice Boys’ parade.

Who are the Apprentice Boys?

The Apprentice Boys is a Protestant fraternal group based in Derry, but with a global membership. The organisation annually commemorates the 1689 siege of Derry.

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During the siege, 13 apprentice boys closed the city gates on the army of Catholic King James II with the cry “no surrender”. The closing of the gates is marked by the Apprentice Boys in December, and their August parade celebrates the ending of the siege.

The parade was banned and limited for some years during the Troubles, but has been allowed to proceed relatively unimpeded in recent years.

[caption id="attachment_11314" align="alignnone" width="292" caption="Protestant Apprentice boys march through the streets of Ballymena in April, 2006."][/caption]

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