Belfast Telegraph

Parade marking internment without trial peaceful after block from city centre

A republican parade marking the anniversary of British internment without trial in Belfast has passed off peacefully.

Around 200 demonstrators were blocked from entering the city centre following a Parades Commission determination intended to protect law and order.

There was a heavy security presence, with armoured vehicles used to block the road and riot police standing by.

Organiser Dee Fennell said: "The only people that are denied entrance to Belfast city centre are the republican people of Belfast, of Derry, of right across this country and beyond."

The march was organised by the Anti-Internment League to mark the use of detention without trial by the British Army during the height of the Troubles in 1971.

The measure had been intended to restore order but helped inflame serious street violence.

Sunday's march by protesters opposed to the authorities' treatment of dissident republicans was stopped by police upholding a Parades Commission determination.

In the city centre, a short distance away, around 50 people calling themselves Northern Ireland Against Terrorism held a counter-demonstration. They were addressed by a member of a fringe organisation called Britain First.

In previous years the anti-internment parade has proceeded through the city to be greeted by violence.

At the same event in 2013, 56 officers were injured when loyalist protesters attacked the police.

The anti-internment demonstrators are angered by the continued detention in Maghaberry Prison near Lisburn of Tony Taylor, from Derry city.

He is a republican who was convicted of a bomb attack in his native city in the 1990s before being released under licence following the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

In early 2014 Taylor admitted possession of a firearm and later that year he was released from Maghaberry having served three years on remand in custody with another five years to be served on licence.

That licence was revoked in March 2016.

His wife Lorraine addressed the rally, saying: "I know little about Tony's politics, other than he is a committed republican and wants to see society here at peace free from failures of the past that gave rise to conflict.

"Internment was one of those failures of political malpractice.

"But I can tell you that as a person he is a wonderful father, husband and son and that we, his family, miss him terribly.

"It is blatantly unfair that they are losing this precious time with their son.

"It is not just Tony who is the victim of this unfairness, an entire family has been devastated."

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