Belfast Telegraph

Refugee wins legal fight to challenge Protestant Coalition march decision

By Alan Erwin

A Syrian refugee has won High Court permission to challenge the Parades Commission over a Belfast city centre march against people fleeing his country.

The man was granted leave to seek a judicial review against the determination the organisation reached on the Protestant Coalition-organised rally today.

A judge ruled the refugee had established an arguable case that insufficient conditions had been imposed on the demonstration.

Allegations that the impact of the march on Muslims and shoppers were not properly considered will go to a full hearing.

However, Mr Justice Deeny denied interim relief to stop today's march from going ahead.

He said: "The organisers are obliged to refrain from using words which could be perceived to be sectarian, and making claims about the Prophet Mohammed."

Action was brought on behalf of the refugee, who was granted anonymity, amid safety fears.

Barrister Stephen McQuitty, for the Syrian man, said: "Clearly the Protestant Coalition doesn't believe in freedom of religion. They want Muslims out of the UK."

Dealing with the planned route past Belfast City Hall, Mr Justice Deeny pointed out the decision to take in refugees had nothing to do with the council. "It might well be they should parade to the nearest organ of the Government of the United Kingdom, which has taken a role," he said, adding that the timing of the march - when families were shopping- should arguably have not been allowed.

But granting leave to apply for a judicial review, the judge stressed: "This does not mean the court has reached any concluded view."

The case now proceeds to a full hearing in March next year.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph