Associated Press

August 13, 1994

LONDONDERRY, Northern Ireland (AP) -- More than 30,000 Protestants marched through this largely Catholic border town today, a quarter-century after the same parade provoked riots and the deployment of British soldiers.

The Apprentice Boys, the Protestant group that each year honors the 1689 defense of Londonderry from Roman Catholics, gathered within the city's centuries-old battlements under the guard of several hundred soldiers and police.

Twenty-five years ago on the same spot, the Apprentice Boys' march and Catholic opposition to it ignited three days of fighting in Northern Ireland's second-largest town. The clashes forced Britain to deploy troops here and in Belfast as the province's highly partisan Protestant police force buckled under the weight of Catholic anger.

English policy-makers had expected that the 80 soldiers of the Prince of Wales' Own Regiment who separated the two sides, their bayonets fixed and cheered by Catholic locals, would be needed for only a few months.

Today, several hundred of the 19,000 British soldiers now on duty in Northern Ireland stood guard over the Apprentice Boys march.