Belfast Telegraph

Appeal for calm as dissidents to protest against veterans' rally

By Rebecca Black

Participants in a veterans parade in Belfast on Friday have been urged to keep the peace.

A DUP MLA made the plea as he blasted the Parades Commission for allowing a dissident republican protest to take place at the same time.

Saoradh is to parade from Castle Street to Donegall Place on Friday morning, just short of where a Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans (JFNIV) rally will be held at the same time.

The JFNIV is one of a series of protests being held across the UK on April 14 calling for an end to "witch-hunts" against ex-soldiers.

A DUP delegation - including Belfast MLAs William Humphrey, Christopher Stalford and Joanne Bunting, and councillor Frank McCoubrey - met PSNI Chief Superintendent Chris Noble yesterday to discuss their concerns about Friday.

Mr Humphrey said they warned police that they feel the dissident republican protest is designed to raise tensions.

"We have put forward a number of suggestions to the police, but the real failure lies with the Parades Commission, who have once again demonstrated they are part of the problem with parades and protests, rather than part of the solution," he said.

The North Belfast MLA urged supporters to act peacefully.

He added: "It is absolutely vital that everyone coming into the city centre does so peacefully and within the law."

Meanwhile, TUV councillor Stephen Cooper also criticised the decision by the Parades Commission to allow the counter demonstration, saying there was "clearly potential" for republicans to cause trouble.

The Parades Commission said the Saoradh parade will be stopped at the junction of Donegall Place with Donegall Square North and will not be able to proceed to City Hall itself, where the veterans' rally is taking place.

It said the parade of up to 500 participants "must disperse in an orderly manner along Donegall Place at the same time or before the veterans' rally ends at 12 noon".

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