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Restrictions for republican Saoradh Béal Feirste parade in Belfast on Good Friday

By Staff Reporter

A dissident republican parade planned for the middle of Belfast on Good Friday will be kept away from a City Hall rally in support of Army veterans.

The Parades Commission has said a march by Saoradh Béal Feirste would be stopped just before it reached City Hall, where a Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans (JFNIV) rally will be held at the same time.

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

Last year former soldier Dennis Hutchings was charged in connection with a 1974 shooting in Northern Ireland, while two other soldiers will be tried in Belfast next year in relation to the shooting of Joe McCann in 1972.

The Parades Commission said the republican parade, which starts in Castle Street, would not be allowed to go beyond the first set of traffic lights at the junction of Donegall Place-Donegall Square North.

In its determination, the Commission revealed it had been told by a loyalist group that the parade should not be allowed near City Hall, and that it may organise a counter-protest. The report also stated that threats had been posted on social media by supporters on both sides.

Both sides also criticised the Commission's ruling.

TUV councillor Jolene Bunting said: "The Parades Commission's decision to allow Soarad (sic) to parade through the main route to City Hall, on a day when thousands of people are expected to attend a demonstration at Belfast City Hall in support of NI veterans, who served during operation banner, is not just unwelcome but extremely dangerous too."

Saoradh said: "In being denied access to this alleged shared space, we are being denied the legitimate right to protest."

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