Independent hunger strike march in Belfast
Independent hunger strike march in Belfast

Loyalists have said they will protest against a republican hunger strike commemoration, which is to pass through Belfast city centre en route to the west of the city.

The independently organised event, which is open to all republicans, will proceed to Dunville Park in west Belfast from the centre of the city.

Twenty-two white doves will be released in memory of all of Ireland’s hunger Strikers through the decades.

“In 2010 we find there are thousands of republicans from across Ireland and beyond who know describe themselves as independent or non-aligned republicans,” the organisers said.

“This is due to the multiple fractures that have appeared in republicanism.

“It seems people can no longer attend a commemoration to pay their respects or pay tribute to fallen comrades for fear of the possibility of being unjustly labelled a member/supporter of the organising group and for this reason many republicans now avoid going to commemorations.

“It is our hope that by organising a United Independent Hunger Strike Commemoration in memory of not just the 10 but all 22 republicans who lost their lives on Hunger Strike, we will be providing an opportunity for all republicans, aligned, non-aligned or independent to feel free to participate together in honouring the memory of these brave martyrs.”

Loyalists are set to mount a counter-demonstration as the parade nears the UDA-controlled Shankill Road. Up to fifty loyalists are expected to demonstrate at the MilIfield/Brown Square area which witnessed the first riots of the recent conflict in July 1969 when violence erupted alter a Junior Orange Order parade.

The area was regularly the scene of serious rioting during the conflict.

Millfield was a traditionally Catholic, although now a major thoroughfare, while the nearby Brown Square has become staunchly loyalist following a pogrom against Catholic residents ten years ago.

Parade organisers have rejected claims that the march is designed to increase interface tensions or could lead to violence.

“There will be no party political speeches at the commemoration and no party banners or flags will be earned,” a spokesman said.

“Only black flags and photographs of the hunger strikers are to be carried.

“[Loyalists] have the right to hold whatever protest they want. Our parade will be entirely peaceful.”

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