Strong support for banned march to Belfast city hall
Strong support for banned march to Belfast city hall


A large PSNI operation is expected to be put in place to prevent a civil rights parade by the Anti-Internment League reaching Belfast city centre on Sunday.

Up to 5,000 people and four bands are to mark the 45th anniversary of the introduction of internment, when hundreds of nationalists began to be imprisoned without charge.

Organisers of the annual anti-internment parade have said they intend to advance the march towards Belfast city centre on Sunday until they are physically stopped by the PSNI, and have said they expect a peaceful event.

They had intended to march from Andersonstown in west Belfast to Donegall Place before a rally at city hall ending at 1.30pm. However, the Parades Commission has ruled that they cannot leave west Belfast.

“If we can make it to city hall, we will go to city hall,” said AIL spokesman Gerard Fitzpatrick. “We will be walking the route as planned until we can no longer and are physically stopped.”

Mr Fitzpatrick said although some people have been angered by the determination, he expects a peaceful outcome. “We need to get our message out about internment,” he said. “We expect a peaceful outcome and obviously we don’t want to get caught up in violence.”

Former republican internees spanning six decades gathered with other ex-prisoners in west Belfast on Monday to support Sunday’s planned parade.

Former senior Belfast republican Ivor Bell, who was interned during the 1950s, has backed the parade, as well as Hooded Men Francie McGuigan and Kevin Hannaway, and former women prisoners.

Francie McGuigan said he remains opposed to the “idea of internment and the fact it’s being used in Ireland”.

“In 1803 Anne Devlin was the first case and it has been used in Ireland ever since, today they are using it but they have changed the name of it,” he said.

The Parades Commission said its decision to block the parade was reached after traders voiced concerns -- despite most premises being closed for Sunday. It comes just weeks after a loyalist parade was allowed to pass through the city centre on a Saturday, a much more disruptive event to trade. The Parades Commission also refused to grant a review.

Sinn Fein MP Paul Maskey said on Tuesday night that the parade should not have been excluded from the city centre, but marchers should abide by the ruling.

“Towns and city centres are shared spaces capable of facilitating parades from all perspectives and traditions,” he said.

“In that context no determination should exclude the entirety of the city centre from a route filed for and it is Sinn Fein’s view that in this instance the Parades Commission’s determination is wrong.

“However, while the rationale for the determination may be difficult to comprehend it must none the less be adhered to.”


* An anti-internment parade due to take place in Glasgow today [Saturday] had to be called off after it was banned from part of its proposed route. A spokeswoman for South Lanarkshire Council said “an order had been made to prohibit the parade” but refused to say why it was banned.

Several loyalist parades were given the go ahead in the city today. Glasgow councillor Alistair Watson said: “In this case, the police had intelligence that indicated a high risk of disorder; on a day when their resources were already stretched.”

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