Drivers face more march chaos

THOUSANDS of Loyalist marchers will cause disruption for drivers in central Edinburgh for the second time in two months.

Members of the Apprentice Boys of Derry are planning to parade through the Capital on May 19, with dozens of roads to be closed off for several hours.

Motoring groups today urged the council and police to release traffic and route information as early as possible to avoid lengthy jams on the day.

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Last Saturday, more than 12,000 people took part in Edinburgh's largest Orange Parade for 50 years to mark the 300-year anniversary of the Union with England.

Council officials said today there were more marches taking place in the Capital than usual this year, mostly due to the tercentenary celebrations. The Loyal Orange Institution of Scotland is planning a parade in the city on June 30. There will also be the first Journeyman Mason's parade on May 6 and the annual James Connolly march on June 2.

The Apprentice Boys parade is expected to attract around 3500 marchers and 45 bands from across the Britain and Northern Ireland. But numbers could still rise further - the organisers of last weekend's Orange Lodge parade originally estimated that 5000 people would take part.

The Apprentice Boys marchers will congregate in the Meadows before taking to the Capital's streets at midday. Some roads are expected to be closed for at least three hours, and parking, loading and waiting will be banned from 7am on the route.

Streets affected will include Princes Street, George IV Bridge, The Mound, Lothian Road and Castle Terrace.

Neil Greig, from the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: "The key thing is that people need to be made aware of where this march is going to be taking place and for how long. The council and the police need to give out as much information as they can so that motorists don't just drive into the middle of Edinburgh and cause major traffic problems."

The march falls on the last weekend of the SPL season, although both Hearts and Hibs have fixtures on the following day - meaning there should be no delays for most of Edinburgh's football fans.

In a letter to councillors, Keith Rutherford, secretary of the Apprentice Boys' City of Edinburgh Campsie Club, said: "We propose to assemble on the Meadows from 11.15am and to march off at 12 noon, proceeding by way of Middle Meadow Walk, George IV Bridge, The Mound, Princes Street, Lothian Road, Lauriston Gardens and into the Meadows, where the marchers will disperse. Approximately 3500 marchers, including 45 bands, will be in attendance."

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As well as celebrating the Union, the Apprentice Boys' march will also be commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Scottish Amalgamated Committee of the order.

Lothian and Borders police have given their backing to the march, which has been held on a smaller scale in the past in Edinburgh, on the condition that participants do not wear any paramilitary uniforms or fly banners with sectarian slogans.

No-one from the Apprentice Boys of Derry was available for comment.

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