Irish Republican News · November 8, 2014
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Marchers increase tensions in Belfast


Unionists have increased pressure on parades and flags ahead of planned talks, with loyalists planning a major flags parade through Belfast city centre on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

The march has been organised to mark the second anniversary of a reduction in the flying of the British Union Jack flag from Belfast City Hall two year ago, leading to weeks of unionist riots and disturbances.

The hardline group Loyal People’s Protest has sought to bring up to 6,000 people and 10 bands onto Royal Avenue, a busy shopping street, on Saturday November 29. However, in a ruling, the Parades Commission restricted the number of marchers to 500.

The date in the run-up to Christmas is one of the busiest in the city’s shopping calendar. The proposed route includes City Hall, Donegall Place, Royal Avenue, North Street, Shankill Road, Tennent Street, Crumlin Road and Cambrai Street.

Similar parades in the past have caused widespread disruption, with marchers going to and from east Belfast attacking the homes of nationalists.

North Belfast Sinn Fein councillor JJ Magee said the protesters would cause hardship to the people of Belfast. “They need to start believing in the democratic process and stop raising tensions,” he said.


Meanwhile, unionists have reacted angrily to a Parades Commission ruling banning music past a Catholic church during a loyalist band parade this Saturday.

Up to 500 people and three bands are expected to take part later today [Saturday November 8] in the annual remembrance parade past St Patrick’s Church, a frequent site for sectarian provocations by loyalists.

A similar parade late last month saw so-called ‘kick the pope’ bands continue playing ‘hymns’ past St Patrick’s church and nationalist protestors.

The new ruling comes after nationalists pointed to the inconsistency over the handling of sectarian parades -- in east Belfast, loyalist bands are normally restricted from playing past St Matthew’s Catholic church.

Carrick Hill Concerned Residents Group spokesman Frank Dempsey also questioned the need for yet another parade to pass the nationalist district, and said there was “no rhyme nor reason” why these parades should be passing Carrick Hill.


In east Belfast, meanwhile, unionist paramilitaries have continued to increase tensions with a fifth and sixth night of orchestrated attacks on the nationalist Short Strand. That violence has also been linked to unionists’ talks demands.

The windows of three adjoining homes on the Albertbridge Road were smashed on Monday night at about 9.30pm, including one occupied by a pensioner and her disabled son.

A 23-year-old woman living in one of the homes was sitting in her living room watching television when the house was targeted. On Friday night a window was smashed at an elderly man’s flat, close to the three homes.

One resident said she was fearful that her home would be attacked next. “I’m heart-scared here,” she said. “There were no police about, only a Land Rover at the junction with Castlereagh Street.”

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