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Belfast rally in support of Ukraine this Sunday aims to keep war forefront of news

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Support at the previous protest

Support at the previous protest

Support at the previous protest

A rally supporting the people of Ukraine is to take place in Belfast on Sunday morning to help keep the ongoing war in the country “at the forefront of the news in Northern Ireland”.

The march will start at 2pm at Custom House Square and end with a vigil at City Hall, to remind people that Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine “is not over”.

The protest is being organised by the Ukrainians In Northern Ireland Community Group, of which political activist Peter Emerson is a member. He told the Belfast Telegraph that Sunday’s rally is being held “partly because it’s very difficult to concentrate on a huge problem every day — and yet this is a huge problem every day”.

“This is to keep it in the forefront of the news,” he continued.

“We had one in March, which was very successful, but it’s time we had another one to keep the focus up and make sure that it doesn’t slip behind Tory leadership elections and other nonsense like that.”

There are also hopes that the march will encourage local people to do what they can to help the people of Ukraine, with Peter adding that housing refugees is one way of doing that.

In April, it was confirmed that around 1,000 Ukrainians had applied to live in Northern Ireland, but Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy previously claimed the visa system was “disastrous” as thousands struggled to navigate complex requirements.

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Mr Murphy also believes that thus far as many as four in five refugees, who were unable to wait for visas, have come to Northern Ireland via the open-land border from the Republic.

Last month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted that Ukrainians who entered the UK without a visa, including those who enter Northern Ireland via Dublin, could be deported to Rwanda, as part of the UK Home Office’s wider controversial new immigration plans.

As well as this, Mr Emerson believes it’s “crazy” that properties lying dormant in Northern Ireland are not being used to help those fleeing the war, including a house next to him which he says has been empty for a decade.

“The number of empty houses we have in the province is criminal. There are lots of things that can be done. Some of the policies that are advocated are very military, but some of the other policies that could perhaps be just as effective will be for us to help the protest movement in Russia.

“There are hundreds of people protesting in Russia.

“So, what are our ambassadors doing? I suggest that they should be on the streets with the protestors.”

Around 500 people attended the Belfast anti-war rally on March 5, but Mr Emerson hopes even more will come to this weekend’s event. 


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