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No man’s land: Is the parade and protest too close for comfort?

A 40 metre zone will separate soldiers taking part in an army homecoming parade from republican protestors in Belfast City Centre this Sunday.

People across Northern Ireland will be holding their breath amid fears that violence could break out as large crowds of demonstrators and supporters descend on the city.

There are concerns that dissident republicans, who are expected to stage illegal protests, or loyalists, could ignite serious disruptions.

Last night the head of the Parades Commission defended the decision to allow the Sinn Fein protest demonstration near the Army event. Roger Poole also called for calm.

“We would ask that those who intend to come to the city on Sunday review their own positions and redouble their efforts to take tension out of this issue in advance of the parade,” he said.

“Belfast deserves a peaceful weekend and the citizens and traders in the city are entitled to a trouble-free day. Anyone intent on causing or contributing to civil unrest should stay away.

“Now is the time for an effort to be made to reduce rather than heighten tension around this parade and protest. There is an onus on those political and community leaders in a position of influence to demonstrate leadership between now and Sunday through their words, their actions and their commitment to non-violent actions.”

Belfast Telegraph