Savage sectarian killer in vanguard of paltry loyalist protest against Syrian refugees
One of the main protesters at an anti-refugee rally in Belfast at the weekend is a convicted loyalist killer who kicked a Catholic man to death during a riot.
Glen Kane - who was also an active participant in the flag protests at Belfast City Hall as a member of the racist British National Party - joined a group of around 30 hardline loyalists to protest against plans to house 51 Syrians in Northern Ireland.
Kane was jailed for nine years in 1993 for the manslaughter of Kieran Abram, who was savagely beaten to death by a gang of loyalist thugs during a riot in July 1992.
Although anti-refugee protesters were far outnumbered by anti-racist groups in a counter-demonstration, concern has been raised over the safety of the refugees when they arrive later this month.
"I think this anti-refugee rally was appalling. You would think a country that has gone through so much trouble would be more sympathetic to others who have suffered so much," said Alliance MLA Anna Lo.
"This group, although small, concerns me.
"It is not a welcoming signal to send out, not just to the refugees but to the world.
"We will be viewed as unwelcoming, intolerant and racist. But this group does not represent the vast majority of the people of Northern Ireland."
Patrick Corrigan of Amnesty International said the anti-refugee group was unrepresentative of the people of Belfast.
"The true spirit of Belfast has been shown by the large turnout at refugee welcome events over the past few months," he said.
"I think that bodes well for a positive reception for the Syrian refugees."
The PSNI said last week that a special operation team will manage the arrival of 11 Syrian refugee families on December 15.
They will arrive in Belfast from Lebanon under the Vulnerable Persons Relocations Scheme.
Eleven of them are children under the age of five, including a baby. The PSNI team will also investigate any crimes against the Muslim community.
The Syrian families will be housed in the private rental sector until alternative arrangements are made.
This is the first time Northern Ireland has participated in a refugee resettlement programme.
On Saturday dozens of police officers, some in body armour, were on standby at Belfast City Hall during the hardline Protestant Coalition anti-refugee protest amid concerns of a clash with anti-racist activists. A paltry 30 loyalists - some of whom have had previous involvement with the BNP and other far-right organisations - were heavily outnumbered by a larger gathering of anarchists, socialists and members of churches opposed to the anti-refugee protest.
Barriers were erected outside City Hall to keep the sides apart and several armoured police vehicles were deployed along Royal Avenue to quell any potential disorder.
However, the protest and the counter-demonstration both passed off peacefully.