Loyalists ‘will not seek permission' from Parades Commission for anti-internment counter protest
LOYALISTS are to hold a counter demonstration against an anti-internment parade in Belfast city centre in the summer and have insisted they will "not be seeking permission" for the protest from the Parades Commission or police.
The Irish News reported on Saturday that up to 5,000 people and at least four bands are expected to take part in the republican Anti-Internment League march which will take place on Sunday, August 7.
The Loyal Peoples Protest, which has been behind the Union flag protests, has said it will be holding a protest against the march at 11.30am at Belfast City Hall on the same day.
In a post on Facebook, the group said it would "not be seeking permission from any organisation."
It said: "We will be using our democratic right of assembly, and therefore will not be seeking permission from any organisation i.e the Parades Commission or the PSNI . NS LPP."
In 2013 there was serious violence on Royal Avenue - Belfast's busiest shopping street - after loyalists opposed to the parade clashed with the PSNI. Last year a similar parade passed off without serious incident.
Last August's anti-internment march was stopped by the PSNI near Ardoyne in north Belfast as hundreds of loyalists gathered in the city centre for a major protest.
However, in a change of tactic, parade organisers say this year's march will leave Andersonstown in west Belfast before moving down Castle Street and onto Donegall Place at its junction with Royal Avenue.
The procession will then make its way to Belfast City Hall where a stage will be erected for a rally which is expected to be finished by 1.30pm.
The parade has been organised to mark the 45th anniversary of the introduction of internment in 1971, which saw hundreds of nationalists jailed without charge.
Gerard Fitzpatrick, spokesman for the Anti-Internment League, said some city centre traders and loyalists had raised objections about the location and timing of last year's march.
"This year's route means no such objections from this quarter."