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Outrage as Protestant Coalition calls for protest against refugees

The Protestant Coalition website urging people to protest over refugees
Connla Young

A GROUP linked to the loyalist flag protest is organising a demonstration against refugees coming to Northern Ireland.

The Protestant Coalition used its Facebook page to call on other loyalist groups to support its planned protest in Belfast later this month.

The controversial post was reported to PSNI yesterday as a possible hate crime after it claimed “we don't want or need refugees/terrorists in Northern Ireland”.

The offensive Facebook post read: “We have our very own people needing food banks to survive, our own people on the streets with no where to go.

“Our armed forces cannot get a house or the help they need.”

The planned protest comes as meetings were held across the north this week to discuss ways of helping refugees who eventually make their way to the north.

Their plight was brought into sharp focus last week after the dead body of a three-year-old Syrian boy was pictured washed up on a Turkish beach after the dingy he and his family were in capsized.

Paul O’Connor of the human rights campaigning Pat Finucane Centre slammed the post which it reported to police.

“This appalling linkage of those fleeing war and violence, refugees, with those who cause violence, terrorists, is likely to cause fear and alarm among an extremely vulnerable group who are seeking refuge,” he said.

“It is also likely to fuel violent attacks on those perceived to be refugees, asylum seekers and minority groups in general living in the north of Ireland.

“There is an obvious and invidious implication that refugees are terrorists.”

Meanwhile rallies in support of helping refugees are to be held in Belfast and Derry this weekend.

An hour-long demonstration, organised by Amnesty International, will be held at Belfast City Hall at 2.30pm tomorrow.

The event is being held ahead of Monday's talks by EU ministers on the escalating refugee crisis.

"We want to send a message that people here are open to helping refugees and that we can’t continue to allow thousands to die trying to reach the EU and their legal right to claim asylum," Amnesty said.

"There needs to be Europe-wide agreement on providing help where it is so desperately needed, and sharing that responsibility fairly."

In Derry, people are being urged to put a lighted candle in their window to show support for refugees.

Emergency donations for Syria will also be collected at the city's Millennium Forum over the next two days.

A Concern Worldwide support group has set up the collection, which runs between 10am and 6pm today and tomorrow.

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