Belfast Telegraph

Councillor 'doesn't get the message' after another far-right 'Freedom Rally' announced

By Andrew Madden, Local democracy reporter

A Belfast anti-fascist group has said the far-right in Northern Ireland “just don’t get the message” after a City Hall councillor announced she is hosting a another “UK Freedom Rally” in July.

The rally, the third such event in six weeks, follows on from a face-off between groups including Cllr Jolene Bunting alongside several far right organisations she openly supports and counter-protestors last Saturday.

Smoke bombs were thrown at last weekend’s rally, which travelled from Sandy Row to City Hall - two weeks after a “Free Tommy Robinson” rally that followed the same route.

Riot police stood between around 100 “UK Freedom” protesters, including local citizens and far-right groups such as Generation Identity, Britain First and other anti-immigration advocates.

Gathered metres away in opposition was a crowd of 500 counter-demonstrators, made up of Belfast Anti-Fascists, trade unions, citizens, councillors from several City Hall parties, and other groups holding up “migrants welcome” placards.

Councillor Bunting announced the latest rally on Monday via social media - and it is to be held on July 14, in the wake of Twelfth celebrations across the Northern Ireland’s capital city and beyond.

Belfast Anti-Fascists have already responded by announced their own counter-demonstration, entitled ‘Rally Against the Far-Right (they just don’t get the message), for the same date, time and destination: City Hall.

”This date has been chosen purposefully by the far right due to how close it is to the loyalist marching season thus adding a new dimension to their protest as it will attract many fascist sympathisers from England and Scotland,” Belfast Anti-Fascists said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

 

“Therefore we believe it is vital that even more people attend this counter protest and again we call on all trade unions, left wing parties, organisations and antifascists to oppose this march.

“For the first time in years this will be the third fascist mobilisation within the space of a month in our city centre. We need to send a message to these far right scumbags if they mobilise we'll mobilise five times more.”

On Sunday, Europe-wide far-right group Generation Identity, whose members have been visibly present at both Belfast UK Freedom Marches this year, put a niqab over a statue in the city as part of a “ban the burqa” campaign.

Belfast City Council representative for the Court district Jolene Bunting has since posted several articles on her Twitter profile lauding the stunt, sourced from several GI social media pages - except for Facebook, as last week the group was banned from the platform for posting “extremist content”.

Naomi Green of Belfast Islamic Centre said the “stunt is attention-seeking xenophobia hiding behind a 'concern' that isn't even culturally relevant here.”

“Strip it back to the bare bones and they essentially want ethnic purity and ethnic cleansing,” she added. ENDS// Please see attached pic, sourced by author.

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