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Parade organisers must obey law

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 03/08/2015

Police were caught in violence between paraders and protesters in 2013
Police were caught in violence between paraders and protesters in 2013

The threat by the organisers of next Sunday's anti-internment march in Belfast to deliberately ignore a ruling of the Parades Commission is most irresponsible.

It adds further tension to an exercise in coat-trailing by the Anti Internment League which is planning to bring thousands of supporters into Royal Avenue .

Instead of trying to move from the past, the organisers seem intent on heightening tensions, and any such display in the city centre is bound to lead to counter-demonstrations .

Some people might question the judgment of the Parades Commission in allowing such a gathering, but whatever their determination, it should be obeyed.

The Parades Commission clearly stipulated that the anti-internment demonstration should pass a key area by 1.30pm, thus allowing for some normality on a busy trading afternoon in the city.

Unfortunately the Anti Internment League is planning to begin its protest later, and this will greatly increase tensions and also badly affect the city's traders.

This stance by the parade organisers should be roundly condemned as a deliberate attempt to cause further trouble and to tempt the loyalists, who need little tempting, to make a response.

It is continually stressed to loyalist bands and marchers the importance of adhering to Parades Commission rulings, and this must also apply to the anti-internment parade.

Two years ago, in a similar stand-off, more than 50 police officers were injured during serious disturbances in Royal Avenue and Belfast cannot afford more scenes like that.

Once again it looks as if the PSNI resources will be further stretched, and brave officers will have to put their bodies on the line to maintain order in the middle of our capital city on a summer afternoon.

As the UUP councillor Jim Rodgers has noted, such confrontation is bad for the image of Belfast at a time when the city is trying to attract more tourists and inward investment.

In a free and democratic society, people are entitled to protest within the law, but this flouting of the law and the resultant raising of tensions is the last thing which this Province and its capital city needs.

There is still less than a week left for calm heads to prevail and for the rule of law to be respected.

Belfast Telegraph

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