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Rival groups set to descend on Belfast for marches


Parade: Britain First’s Paul Goulding

Parade: Britain First’s Paul Goulding

Parade: Britain First’s Paul Goulding

Demonstrators are set to bring hundreds of people onto the streets on Sunday to protest against Britain First and "reflect the true diversity of Belfast".

Organisers of the Belfast Says No to Fascism protest said they would be joined by people who are gay, black, white, of faith and of none to make sure the leadership of right-wing group Britain First understands "their views are not welcome in Belfast".

Tensions are high ahead of tomorrow's perfect storm of marches and protests in and around the city centre.

Five thousand people are expected to join an anti-internment march which, after being banned for the second year from its proposed route down Royal Avenue by the Parades Commission, will skim the city centre, while two separate loyalist protests plus an anti-fascist protest opposing Britain First's presence will happen at the same time in and around Belfast City Hall.

Britain First leader Paul Goulding, who is to speak at the Northern Ireland Against Terrorism protest organised by independent unionist Jolene Bunting, said that members of his group were "patriots not fascists", adding that they were not extremists, but "just love our country".

"It is ludicrous to say that we are extremists," he said. "We just love our country. We are against immigration, we want our country to stay the way it is. We want to put our own people first.

"If there is any trouble, if there is any hostility, it will not come from us. We just want a peaceful, democratic protest."

Davy McAuley, from Belfast Says No To Fascism, said his group "will have a peaceful, vibrant protest that will reflect Belfast".

But Ms Bunting said that those who were opposing them opposing terrorism "speaks volumes" about them.

A separate anti-terrorism march, the Loyalist People's Protest, will also take place at City Hall. Organisers said they would bring 10,000 people to Belfast for a march through part of the city centre after also being banned from Royal Avenue.

Meanwhile the Anti-Internment League has vowed to march "until forcibly stopped".

Belfast Telegraph