Belfast Telegraph

Friday 24 October 2014

Dissidents plan Belfast rally: Permission sought for 5,000-strong internment anniversary parade

Dissident republicans have applied for permission to stage a 5,000-strong parade in Belfast.

The march is planned for Friday, August 9 to coincide with the introduction of internment in Northern Ireland in 1971.

An application has been submitted to the Parades Commission with the organiser listed as The Anti-Internment League. Those involved in the umbrella protest include the main dissident groups – the 32 County Sovereignty Movement and the Republican Network for Unity. Organisers said they also intend inviting trade unions, GAA clubs and human rights groups.

Marchers will assemble at Ardoyne Avenue at 6pm before marching to west Belfast via the city centre with eight bands and around 5,000 marchers.

A decision on the application is due to be made by the parading watchdog next Tuesday.

Belfast DUP councillor Robin Newton said he believed the parade was a bid to stoke tensions.

He added: "I have concerns and the Parades Commission needs to give serious consideration to who is behind this, what groups are organising it.

"It would suggest to me there is no purpose to this other than to create a mood of intimidation and raise tensions in the community."

Internment was introduced as the authorities struggled to cope with spiralling levels of violence and was billed as a bid to take paramilitaries off the streets.

But weak intelligence meant many of the key targets escaped and people without any involvement in violence were arrested.

A total of 1,981 people were detained over the period – 1,874 Catholics and 107 Protestants.

The policy was continued by Westminster politicians for four years after the introduction of direct rule.

FACTFILE

Marchers plan to assemble at Ardoyne Avenue at 6pm before making their way along the Oldpark, Cliftonville and Antrim Roads. They then plan to parade along Donegall Street and on to Royal Avenue and Castle Street before heading towards the Falls Road.

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