A SENIOR member of the Apprentice Boys has urged dissident republicans to relocate a planned protest in Londonderry next week.

The call comes as the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, the political wing of the Real IRA, confirmed a regular weekly picket would go ahead on August 14 the same day as the annual Relief of Derry commemorations.

Tensions are rising in the aftermath of a bomb attack on the citys Strand Road police station this week. A 200lb car bomb was detonated outside the PSNI base on Tuesday morning.

The blast came only days after a statue of seige hero Governor George Walker was deliberately damaged on Society Street.

Dissidents have been holding regular �white line� protests over prison conditions at Maghaberry jail on Saturday afternoons at 2pm.

The pickets held at Shipquay Street are normally only yards from the Diamond where thousands of Apprentice Boys and bandsmen will march through next week.

General secretary of the Apprentice Boys, Billy Moore, insisted republicans, as a gesture of �goodwill�, should move their scheduled protest.

�It the picket has nothing to do with our parade,� he said.

�If they are going to encourage a number of people onto the streets on the same day and fairly close to our parade route, it obviously could create difficulties. I would encourage them to relocate their protest to another area of the city which is not in the vicinity of our parade.�

Stressing the matter was a policing issue, Mr Moore added: �The Apprentice Boys would be deeply disappointed if anyone came to the city, or anyone from the city, set out on August 14 to create problems.

�We have gone the extra mile in trying to create good community relations and reached out the hand of friendship to everyone, but in doing that we do expect to celebrate and commemorate our history in a way that we have been doing for many years.�

A spokesman for the 32 County Sovereignty Movement told the Londonderry Sentinel: �These protests have been a regular occurrence on Saturday afternoons in Derry city for the past few years.

�A few months back, due to the deteriorating conditions in Maghaberry prison and increasing brutality and torture directed at republican POWs, we decided to hold the protests on a weekly basis.

�No other events or activities organised by any other body will be a factor or an obstacle in our ongoing campaign to highlight the inhuman conditions endured by republican POWs.�

Earlier this week, DUP MLA WIlliam Hay claimed the dissident threat was higher in the city than at any time prior to the annual Apprentice Boys march.

The Foyle representative said the republican protest was �only really an excuse to disrupt the day and to disrupt the parade�.

The PSNI has confirmed any protest will be policed in an �appropriate and proportional way to ensure public safety and an early return to normality�.

Published date on the 5th of August 2010
Article taken from the The News Letter