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Disturbances at interface during republican march

Published 01/09/2014




RIVAL loyalist and republicans traded insults and a banger was thrown during a republican march at a Belfast interface yesterday.

There was a large police presence at the Republican Network for Unity parade to mark the birth of United Irishman Henry Joy McCracken.

The Parades Commission imposed restrictions on the march between Clifton Street and Henry Place where up to 100 loyalist protesters gathered opposite Clifton Street Orange Hall.

Up to 100 republicans marched through north Belfast and into Clifton Street Cemetery where the Protestant rebel leader was buried, sparking angry jeers from the protesters on the other side of the road.

Stewards on the republican side, of which the majority were youths, moved to remove alcohol from two young women who returned insults at the protesters.

Marchers and protesters aimed mobile phones at each other to record the other side as republican bands from Portadown, Kilkeel and Glasgow took part.

TUV councillor Joleen Bunting said the loyalist protesters were there because they felt "under attack".

"In previous years protesters have been hit by golf balls and had abuse shouted at them from this march which is facing an Orange hall.

"We are unhappy with the Parades Commission and police and people in authority are not being held accountable. We feel we are being sold out and we feel under attack."

But Martin Og Meehan, one of the republican organisers said they had not applied to play music and were not passing a place of worship.

"We are promoting a culture and a radical alternative to Stormont. The Orange hall is just a building and not a church where prayer services are held today. We applied to stay on one side of the road and march to a single drumbeat.

"These protesters should go and read their history. They are protesting against Henry Joy McCracken. We are here to commemorate on the date of his birth, what he did for Ireland for Catholic, Protestant and dissenter."