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DUP and SF meet police over violence fears at big anti-internment parade

By Rebecca Black

Published 07/08/2015

A police officer lies unconscious after being struck by a missile thrown by loyalists during 2013’s anti-internment parade in Belfast
A police officer lies unconscious after being struck by a missile thrown by loyalists during 2013’s anti-internment parade in Belfast
Loyalists protest against an anti-internment parade in Belfast

Politicians from both the DUP and Sinn Fein have met the PSNI to receive assurances about how a large republican parade this weekend will be policed.

Two years ago the anti-internment rally sparked major violence during which 56 police officers were injured.

This Sunday thousands of republicans and 14 bands are expected to take part or support the parade, which starts at Ardoyne in north Belfast before making its way to Royal Avenue in the city centre and then on to the Falls Road.

Three loyalist protests have been planned to take place around the Royal Avenue area.

The Parades Commission ruled that the parade must be clear of the city centre by 1.30pm, but parade organisers have announced it will ignore this direction and start in Ardoyne as planned at 2.30pm.

DUP East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson and North Belfast MLAs Nelson McCausland and William Humphrey met PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin and Belfast District Commander Chief Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw yesterday to discuss how the parade will be policed.

Mr McCausland said concerns had been raised over how the PSNI dealt with republican parades.

"There must be no two-tier approach when it comes to policing parades and protests, including the dissident republican parade on Sunday," he said.

"The PSNI got it wrong in Londonderry and they need to get it right this time."

He added: "The police must be seen to handle all parades in an equal manner. In previous years, senior police officers have been very open in advance of loyal order parades to say that they will enforce the Parades Commission determination. I trust they will be similarly robust when it comes to policing this dissident republican parade."

The DUP said it raised specific concerns of the residents of Brown Square that it, as well as the fact the spot where UDR soldiers Private Fred Starrett and Private James Cummings were murdered by the IRA, are along the parade route.

Sinn Fein North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly also met senior PSNI officers over the parade.

"It is our view that all determinations issued by the Parades Commission in respect of parades this weekend should be respected," he said.

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