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Dublin must say No to Willie Frazer's 'Love Ulster' march that sparked 2006 riot

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A garda stands by a burning car in Nassau Street during riots following the 'Love Ulster' march in Dublin in February 2006

A garda stands by a burning car in Nassau Street during riots following the 'Love Ulster' march in Dublin in February 2006

Willie Frazer

Willie Frazer

Rioting at the 2006 Love Ulster march in Dublin

Rioting at the 2006 Love Ulster march in Dublin

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A garda stands by a burning car in Nassau Street during riots following the 'Love Ulster' march in Dublin in February 2006

If there's one thing the Republic of Ireland needs right now, it is surely more protests, right?

After all, a few bricks and insults aside, the anti-water charge protesters have been noticeable more for their anger than the damage they have caused. Similarly, any of the protests from workers, or students, or the elderly, or even that march by gardai a few years ago, all went off without a hitch.

In fact, one of the ironies of Irish life is that while we have one of the worst records for casual street violence in Europe, we simply don't trash the place the way the Greeks, Spanish and Italians do.

Maybe it's a cultural thing. Maybe it's the weather. Or our inherently selfish nature, but for all the perils of venturing into town on a Friday night, we don't really do rioting.

So, apparently unaware that the last thing his beloved brethren in the South need is an actual riot, Love Ulster's Willie Frazer wants to party like it's 2006 all over again as he plans to bring his latest controversial, Ulster-lovin' jamboree onto our streets early next year.

As bad ideas go, this is up there with Guinness Light and invading Afghanistan - screamingly obvious disasters that even Helen Keller could have seen coming.

Frazer has form when it comes to being an arch provocateur. The first march through Dublin's city centre ended in predictable fashion - smashed windows, mass rioting and an injured Bird. Hundreds of protesters; 14 people, including six gardai, were treated in hospital; 41 arrests. The worst civil unrest in our city centre in decades, if not longer. As anyone who was there will remember, it was one hell of a day.

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It was obvious that things were going to get hairy, but while those morons who wrapped Celtic scarves around their faces as they hurled rocks at their own police deserved to be criticised, it was the march that dragged them out on to the streets at a time when most of them would normally still have been in bed.

'Love Ulster', or whatever iteration Frazer wants to use next January, is a Loyalist group which wants to highlight the problems its community has experienced at the hands of the IRA. That gripe hardly makes them unique in the pantheon of Northern complainers. After all, there are people on both sides of that squalid sectarian divide who have had their lives ruined by terrorists and while anyone with any common sense despises the Provos, they were hardly the only people in Northern Ireland to hold a genocidal hatred of their neighbours.

But this remarkably odd fellow still labours under the illusion that we are all secret sympathisers of Republican murderers, a moronic and reductive point of view that regards this country as the world's largest terrorist training camp and seems to think the 'war' is still going on.

A bunch of Loyalists marching down O'Connell Street to protest at historic IRA crimes makes as much sense as a bunch of southern Irish Republicans striding manfully along Oxford Street to raise awareness of the British Government's collusion with Loyalist death squads.

In other words, not much sense at all. But then, common sense has always been a rare and precious commodity in the failed statelet of Northern Ireland, which boasts a particularly toxic brand of politics on both sides of the fence that leaves the rest of us cold.

There are opportunities for mischief, of course. Panti and his mates could decide to have a pride rally on the same day, which would at least bring some much-needed colour to a drab affair.

Silly, I know. But when faced with such unrelenting obduracy from a man who has consistently failed to attract anything more than a tiny fringe of supporters from his own 'community', we'd probably be better off responding with silliness than bricks and bottles.

The ideal scenario would actually involve Frazer and his cohorts coming down to Dublin and returning, unimpressed and upset, when they discover that nobody cares and they were roundly ignored. That won't happen, which is why the march shouldn't happen. We have enough trouble on our streets from home-grown gougers without throwing some foreign agenda into the mix.

Hailing from the North, Frazer has a winning way with words: "You people play this card about equality and justice and human rights," - the 'you people' being us, presumably - "We're not politicians, and we're certainly not fools, and we're certainly not going to take it from the Irish Government."

Well, he certainly has one thing right - as his disastrous electoral forays have proved, he's not a politician.

The rest is open to interpretation.

Ian O'Doherty writes for the Irish Independent in Dublin

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