Loyalists plan Galloway protest

Connla Young

LOYALISTS are threatening to hold a protest in Belfast city centre this weekend during an event by outspoken MP George Galloway.

The protest would take place as thousands of weekend revellers pour into the city centre on Saturday night.

The news comes days after Belfast City Council rejected a bid by unionists to have the Ulster Hall event cancelled.

It is understood several groups, including loyalist victims, intend to gather outside the venue during the talk.

Unionists have expressed anger after Mr Galloway called for a boycott of Israeli goods during a recent speech in England.

The Belfast event, Saturday Night with George Galloway, is a sell out and will attract up to 1,000 people to the city centre venue, creating a potential security nightmare for authorities.

It is expected the majority of those attending the event will be sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.

In the past loyalist protests in Belfast city centre have ended in violence.

Last night victims' campaigner Willie Frazer accused Mr Galloway of being a "sympathiser with the republican cause". "He says Israeli people are not welcome in his part of the UK, what more does he have to say? "He has been campaigning with republicans and the PLO [Palestinian Liberation Organisation] for 30 odd years." The loyalist campaigner added that he accepted Israel has killed civilians during its recent military onslaught in Gaza. "We accept that Israel killed innocent people and that is regrettable and unfortunate that happened," he said. "The difference is they gave them a chance not to attack them."

George Galloway said the people of Belfast wanted to hear his message. "Their best efforts to ban the show they have failed and their protests are not unexpected and as long as they are peaceful there will be no problem," he said.

The Bradford West MP said that the fact his show is a "complete sell out indicates that the majority of people of Belfast want to hear what I have to say."


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