Belfast Telegraph

Fears mounting of violent clashes at Belfast republican parade

By Rebecca Black

A DUP delegation is to meet the PSNI over the possibility of violent clashes during a republican march in Belfast this weekend.

Thousands of republicans are expected to descend on the city centre this Sunday and have declared they plan to flout a Parades Commission ruling that they clear the area by 1.30pm.

Three loyalist protests have been planned during the parade, which will assemble on Ardoyne Avenue at 2pm before moving off at 2.30pm, making its way to Royal Avenue before proceeding to the Falls Road.

The Parades Commission allowed the parade, accompanied by 14 bands, but said it must be away from the city centre by 1.30pm.

In a statement the Anti-Internment League said it will ignore the Parades Commission ruling and stick to its planned start time.

"This is the only political parade in the course of the entire year that passes through Belfast city centre that contains the vibrant, energetic and genuine radical republican ethos of opposition to State torture and repression," the group said.

"The attempt by a British Secretary of State-appointed quango to attempt to restrict our message of opposition by placing unrealistic time constraints and limiting public exposure to our message is futile and panders to those who wish to support continued injustices by Britain that are facilitated by the Stormont Executive.

"The days of 'croppy lie down' are over, let the State militia of the PSNI and British Army try to stop us."

As regards the three loyalist protests, the Loyal People's Protest will stand at the point where two UDR men, James Cummings and Fred Starrett, were killed by the IRA while manning a checkpoint in 1988.

United Protestant Voice will also stand there in protest.

And Belfast Concerned Residents will stand at the junction of North Street and Royal Avenue.

Two years ago the anti-internment parade sparked violent clashes during which 56 police officers were injured.

DUP North Belfast MLAs Nelson McCausland and William Humphrey will meet the PSNI to discuss the event.

Mr McCausland described the statement from the parade organisers as a "clear threat".

"It is important that that determination is enforced," he said.

"These are the folk whose military wings are murdering soldiers and policemen.

"It is absolutely appalling that that situation prevails in this day and age, but it does, and the fact is, therefore, that this needs to be treated very carefully.

"People will be very disturbed by the threat from organisers; they are threatening to take on the police, they are threatening to take on the Army. We need to know that, indeed, if people are about in Belfast this weekend that they are going to be safe."

Padraig McCotter, from republican group Eirigi, accused Mr McCausland of constructing a "smokescreen".

"We had said the reason for us starting on a Sunday, when there are less shoppers and that area of Royal Avenue is very barren," he said.

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said the Parades Commission determination "should be respected by all - both by the Anti-Internment League marchers and the loyalist protesters".

Belfast Telegraph


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