Internment parade banned from Belfast city centre
Internment parade banned from Belfast city centre


The annual anti-internment parade planned for next weekend has been blocked from marching to Belfast City Hall by the Parades Commission.

Thousands are expected to take part in the Anti-Internment League (AIL) march which will take place on Sunday, August 7.

The parade has been organised to highlight the ongoing use of internment against republicans and to mark the 45th anniversary of the introduction of internment in 1971, which saw hundreds of nationalists jailed without charge.

The parade has been organised with the support of community representatives, individual trade union members and human rights activists.

A statement from the Anti internment league said republicans were being treated as second class citizens.

They said: “Various groups rightly hold political and religious demonstrations throughout the year in the City Centre, without opposition. These include trade unions, voluntary organisations, the LGBT community and numerous Loyal Order parades. Based on today’s determination, the City Centre is open to all - except Irish Republicans.

“This is despite the AIL taking the courageous steps of changing the route and time. This year’s route avoids any interfaces, any Protestant places of worship. Our departure and dispersal times meant no impact on trade.

“In contrast, the UVF recently marched through Belfast City Centre, accompanied by DUP and UUP representatives and thousands of followers. They did so on the busiest trading day, Saturday, and at the busiest time of that day.

“The Parades Commission not only approved this parade without restriction, they did not even deem it sensitive.

“By comparison, the Six County Stormont State has again today publicly announced that progressives, republicans and others should be restricted and treated as second class citizens.”

Last year a similar parade was stopped by the PSNI near Ardoyne in north Belfast as hundreds of loyalists gathered in the city centre for a major protest.

In 2013 there was serious violence on Royal Avenue - Belfast’s busiest shopping street - after loyalists opposed to the parade clashed with the PSNI. A year later a similar parade passed off without serious incident.

Anti-Internment League spokesman Gerard Fitzpatrick said that as well as remembering the introduction of internment, the parade has been organised to “raise awareness of the continued use of internment by the British and Free State governments by remand and revocation of early release licences and through miscarriage of justice”.

“This is an opportunity for people to peacefully demonstrate against these actions.”

The parade is expected to highlight the case of the Craigavon Two - Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton - who were convicted of killing PSNI man Stephen Carroll in 2009.

It will also focus on the case of senior Republican Network for Unity representative Tony Taylor who was interned earlier this year by order of the former British Direct Ruler Theresa Villiers.

His wife Lorraine spoke about the impact of his detention on her family.

“It is difficult for me to explain just how we as a family have been traumatised by his arrest and detention,” She said.

“Tony’s continued absence is having a devastating impact on his family.”

The AIL urged activists, organisations, bands and members of the public to come to Belfast next Sunday to show support for Mr Taylor and other republican prisoners interned via miscarriage of justice, by remand and through revocation of licence.

“March with us with discipline from Andersonstown until we confront the lines of armed PSNI militia men. Show the world that in 2016 we remain unbowed, unbroken and willing to stand up to injustice.”

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