Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

PUP sows confusion as councillor backtracks on loyalist protest parade in Belfast

Progressive Unionist Party councillor John Kyle
Progressive Unionist Party councillor John Kyle

A prominent Progressive Unionist Party councillor has said loyalist protests should not take place in Belfast city centre on Saturday.

However, just hours after Dr John Kyle expressed concern about this weekend's lunchtime parade, he announced he would be attending the rally.

Around 10,000 loyalists – including 40 bands – are allowed to descend on Belfast city centre this Saturday, one of the busiest days of the year for traders.

The rally will take place just days before the one-year anniversary of Belfast City Council's controversial decision to restrict the number of days the Union flag is flown at the City Hall.

Dr Kyle, an east Belfast councillor, said yesterday morning, "we do not want to discourage people" from Belfast city centre.

And he urged those organising the protest to ensure it remains peaceful.

"My personal view is that I would advise them not to do it on a Saturday, but I recognise that people still feel very strongly about the flag," he told the Nolan Show."

Within minutes, PUP party colleague Winston Irvine tweeted: "Progressive Unionist Party fully supports the protest rally taking place this Saturday."

In an apparent U-turn, Dr Kyle then used the social media networking site to state his full support for those protesting and said he would be attending.

The Parades Commission has ruled the parade should have departed City Hall by noon and be clear of the junction of Royal Avenue and North Street by 12.30pm.

However fliers currently in circulation encourage protesters to gather at City Hall at 1pm, with the parade getting under way at 2pm.

Loyalists will gather at City Hall and make their way along Royal Avenue, the Shankill Road, and on to Tennent Street.

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