There are fears that a ‘Love Ulster’ parade organised by unionist hardliners on Saturday through Dublin city centre could lead to violence.
The organisers of the parade say their intention is to highlight unionist victims of the conflict and are discouraging “troublemakers” from taking part.
A planned counter-protest by Republican Sinn Fein is being organisaed to show solidarity with the nationalist people of the Six Counties”, as well as to oppose the annual season of sectarian anti-Catholic marches in the North.
There are concerns that tensions could erupt between republicans and up to 1,000 loyalists marchers, or that external agents may seek to manipulate the confrontation for their own ends.
“We don’t believe that there will be any bother from the people of Dublin,” said a defiant Willie Frazer, an organiser of the march.
“The parade leaves Parnell Square at 12.30pm and will make its way along O’Connell Street to Leinster House and we will be holding a rally there.”
it has been confirmed that six so-called ‘Kick the Pope’ flute bands will be taking part, while unionist paramilitary figures are known to be involved in the ‘Love Ulster’ organisation.
Orange Order members will be marching but will not wear sashes or collarettes.
Republican Sinn Fein Vice President Des Dalton said the march was “offensive to all who oppose sectarianism, bigotry and racism.
“Those who are organising this march represent the same people who have burned homes, schools and churches across the Six Counties.
“They represent groups who have murdered innocent uninvolved people as a matter of policy simply because of their religion. They speak about tolerance, yet when was a nationalist parade of any kind, cultural or political been allowed to take place in Portadown or East Belfast?
“Many nationalist communities are afraid to even display GAA club or county colours in case of Loyalist attack.”
RSF has announced that they will be assembling at the Parnell monument at the top of O’Connell St assembling from 10.00am on Saturday.
Party President Ruairi O Bradaigh will lead a wreath at the monument in Talbot St, to the 33 victims of the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombs.
Controversially, a photograph of one of those involved in the atrocity, Robert McConnell, may be carried by marching loyalists.
Oraganiser Willie Frazer said he couldn’t guarantee a photograph of serial killer Robert McConnell would not be carried, prompting criticism by relatives of those murdered in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.
* A ruling by the North’s Parades Commission placing restrictions on a republican parade through a nationalist Tyrone town was met with anger yesterday.
Both Sinn Fein and the SDLP in Strabane said last night that the annual commemorative event to honour three IRA men who died when they were ambused by a British SAS unit in 1985 had always passed off peacefully.
Sinn Fein Strabane town councillor, Jarlath McNulty, said that the move by the Parades Commission did not bode well for nationalists during the 2006 marching season.