Saoradh have raised concerns regarding a weekend of loyalist parades in Newry as this year’s marching season draws to a close. The party’s Newry spokesperson Stephen Murney said the centre of Newry would be “overrun by over two thousand sectarian bigots”.
It comes after contentious parades in Derry and Rasharkin, both nationalist areas, passed off without major incident.
However, three loyalist parades are due to take place next Friday and Saturday, the 24th and 25th of August, in the overwhelmingly nationalist town of Newry, just miles from the border with County Louth.
Mr Murney denounced the plans for a parade by dozens of loyalist ‘kick-the-Pope’ style bands as a “chest-beating exercise”.
“The area will be placed in lockdown with numerous streets sealed off on what would normally be a busy Friday evening,” he said.
“Local businesses will be effected and Newry will be saturated with a heavy Crown Force presence to facilitate this hatefest. This will cause major disruption for local residents who will find themselves hemmed into, or too afraid to leave, their own homes and it will leave motorists unable to travel across the town.”
Two further marches due to take place the following morning and evening would lead to even more disruption and inconvenience, Mr Murney said. “This will be a display of blatant Loyalist supremacy and it will be facilitated by Stormonts military wing in the RUC-PSNI.”
He said displays of hate, both sectarian or racist “should be completely done away with... sectarian bigots should have no place in this society and they certainly aren’t welcome on these streets.”
Last weekend, in the County Antrim village of Rasharkin, a protest by residents was credited with preventing a loyalist mob from running through the centre of the village.
The route of the Friday night parade by the controversial ‘Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors Flute Band’ on August 17 had been restricted, with the parade prevented from returning through the village via Glebe Road.
Dozens of bands took part in the march through the nationalist village under moderate restrictions. Following a stand off, Sean Hanna of the Rasharkin Residents’ Collective (RRC) said their decision to observe the parade had kept loyalist followers from marauding through the town. He praised the residents who stood on the Main Street and who had been subjected to “acts of hatred”, which he said would be reported to the Parades Commission.
In Derry, a major loyalist parade organised annually by the Apprentice Boys organisation passed off without incident last Saturday, August 11.
However, there were minor clashes elsewhere in Derry’s Bogside on Wednesday night, when three petrol bombs were thrown at PSNI by nationalist youths attending a bonfire.
A bonfire is traditionally lit in the area to mark the anniversary of internment, but this year the increasingly anti-social and sectarian bonfire had no republican involvement of any kind, and was widely condemned.
The pile of wooden pallets, hastily erected on derelict land in the Meenan Square area, was draped in Union Jack flags, British Army flags and a Donald Trump election sign before it was lit. Placards bearing the names of members of the British Crown Forces who were killed in recent IRA attacks were also burned.
Sinn Fein has condemned what it said was a “display of hate”, while the 26 County Minister for Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said he was “appalled and saddened”.