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Internment parade organisers to defy commission

Loyalists and police clash during an AIL parade in 2013
Connla Young

The organisers of an anti-internment parade through Belfast City Centre have threatened to defy restrictions placed on it by the Parades Commission.

Up to 5,000 participants and 4,000 supporters are expected to take part in the parade through Belfast city centre on Sunday.

News of the threat comes as the Parades Commission placed restrictions on loyalists who intend to hold protests during the republican march.

Three different groups had notified the Parades Commission of their intention to hold protests totalling up to 7,000 people.

Instead, the Parades Commission has restricted the number of protesters to 450 and contained them to an area close to the junction of Lower Garfield Street and Royal Avenue.

There was serious violence during a similar parade in 2013 after protesting loyalists attacked the PSNI and rampaged through the city centre.

Organised by the Anti-Internment League (AIL), Sunday's parade will coincide with the 44th anniversary of the introduction of internment in August 1971.

The AIL says the group is made up of anti-Good Friday Agreement republicans, human rights activists, community workers and trade union members.

Organisers say the parade has been arranged to highlight what they call "internment by remand".

The march is expected to start at Ardoyne in north Belfast before travelling to Belfast city centre where it will move along Royal Avenue and on to Dunville Park in west Belfast for a rally.

Organisers had wanted to set off from Ardoyne at 2.30pm but the Parades Commission has ordered them to clear of the city centre by 1.30pm

In a statement posted on its Facebook page the AIL said it will defy the ruling.

"The attempt by a British Secretary of State appointed quango to attempt to restrict our message of opposition, by placing unrealistic time constraints and limiting public exposure to our message, is futile and panders to those who wish to support continued injustices by Britain that are facilitated by the Stormont Executive," the statement said.

Organisers have also called on supporters who had intended joining the parade in west Belfast to instead travel into Belfast city centre "in order to help prevent marchers from attack".

Solicitor for the AIL Michael Brentnall last night said it is expected they will ask the Parades Commission to review its decision today.

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