A handful of protesters gathered in Belfast’s Ormeau Park on Saturday to demand an end to the coronavirus lockdown and social distancing rules.
The so-called UK Freedom Movement circulated flyers on social media last week calling for people to gather en masse across the country to protest against what it called the “unlawful lockdown”.
Despite the claims of a mass gathering, fewer than 20 people turned up to Ormeau Park. No one appeared to have turned up for a planned protest at Millennium Park in Clarawood in east Belfast.
At Ormeau Park the group of around 15 people was well outnumbered by the assembled journalists, photographers, cameramen and police.
After an hour of milling around and being shouted at by passers by to “go home”, people were asked to disperse by the PSNI.
Several protesters refused to move along and remonstrated with police before eventually leaving the park.
Although PSNI officers spoke to a number of the protesters and recorded footage of the incident, no arrests were made.
Elsewhere around the UK, the protest was a flop in Leeds and Sheffield with nobody turning up.
In London around three dozen people gathered in Hyde Park.
Standing close together near Speaker’s Corner, several held placards and banners including slogans like “freedom over fear” as police, including some on horseback, looked on.
Piers Corbyn, brother of ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, was led away in handcuffs after showing up with a megaphone and proclaiming 5G and the coronavirus pandemic were linked.
He called it a “pack of lies to brainwash you and keep you in order” before being taken away after declining to leave when asked by a police officer and declining to give his details when asked.
He also claimed “vaccination is not necessary” and that “5G towers will be installed everywhere”, adding: “5G enhances anyone who’s got illness from Covid, so they work together.”
There is no evidence to link 5G and Covid-19 and scientists fear that a rise in measles among children can be attributed in part to unfounded fears about vaccines.
When the flyers advertising the UK Freedom Movement protest were circulated on social media last week there was intense speculation as to who was behind the event.
Many initially thought former Britain First deputy leader Jayda Fransen may have been the organiser. However, she strenuously denied any association with the event. She said: “I am highly suspicious of the individual who called these protests, a Mr Richard Inman, leader of the UK Freedom Movement, given that he did so knowing that participants could be fined and or jailed.
“I denounce the irresponsible actions of Mr Inman and his UK Freedom Movement.”
Mr Inman, a Tommy Robinson supporter, uploaded a video to YouTube in which he denied being behind the event.