A sectarian parade is to be held at a troubled north Belfast ‘peaceline’ tomorrow in memory of a loyalist youth who blew himself up with a bomb he was about to throw over the wall at Catholics.
Glen ‘Spacer’ Branagh died on November 11 2001 amid heavy loyalist violence across north Belfast as part of the dispute at Holy Cross primary school.
A loyalist campaign of intimidation against Catholic schoolgirls and their families as they made their way to the school in nearby Ardoyne was motivated by marching season disputes.
The teenager died in the loyalist Tigers Bay area after a pipe bomb he was preparing to hurl into the Catholic New Lodge exploded prematurely. A member of the UDA-linked Ulster Young Militants, his funeral was attended by hundreds of UDA men in dark suits including former loyalist leader John ‘Grugg’ Gregg.
The Parades Commission has this week given permission for 17 bands and 600 supporters to parade up to the nationalist area at the North Queen Street interface to mark the 10th anniversary of his death.
Loyalists with allegiances to former UDA gangster Andre Shoukri are said to be backing the controversial parade which will take place tomorrow [Friday] evening between 6pm and 8pm.
Nationalist residents had met with the Parades Commission earlier this week to express concerns at the plans, which have reignited tensions at the interface.
Gerry O’Reilly who works for the Community Bridges programme met with commission this week to express concerns about the size and proposed route of the march.
“We would be concerned at the time of night, the policing and stewarding arrangements for the parade and also that any music be respectful of the occasion given the number of bands taking part,” he said.
“We have a good working relationship with the people of Tigers Bay, however, on this occasion we were not informed of plans for a parade.”
A spokesman for the Parades Commission said yesterday that there would be no restrictions placed on the march but they would be writing to the organisers to ask for a “restrained and respectful parade.”