Northern Ireland news

Anti-internment parade given late permission for return leg

UUP councillor Jim Rodgers has said traders are concerned about today's anti-internment parade through Belfast city centre
Connla Young

Organisers of a controversial anti-internment parade were granted permission for a return leg last night.

The Anti-Internment League march was originally intended to finish at Belfast city hall after speeches later today.

However, late yesterday organisers asked the commission to allow a return parade.

The Parades Commission later ruled that those taking part can march from Donegall Square North to Donegall Place and then on to the junction of King Street and Castle Street.

The determination states that the return parade must start no later than 2pm and disperse no later than 2.15pm.

The number of participants has also been restricted to 500 people including band members and supporters.

According to the determination organisers had notified that the parade “is to provide an organised dispersal for the main Anti-Internment League” march.

The commission has ruled that up to 500 participants, again including band members and supporters, can take part in the first leg of the parade earlier in the day.

It will begin at Writer's Square on Donegall Street at 1.15pm and move to the City Hall via Royal Avenue, Donegall Place and Donegall Square North, where an address will be given.

The annual march had been stopped from entering the city centre since 2015.

A loyalist protest organised by Northern Ireland Against Terrorism, due to be held on Royal Avenue close to Garfield Street, has been restricted to 150 people.

Loyalists have previously held protests along the route of the parade and in 2013 there was violence at Royal Avenue when they clashed with police.

AIL spokesman Dee Fennell said the decision to organise a return parade was taken on safety grounds.

“We think it would be more responsible to keep parade participants together and take them to a safer dispersal point,” he said.

Meanwhile, a delegation of UUP councillors in Belfast has met with the PSNI to discuss the parade.

Councillor Jim Rodgers said business people were concerned about the parade.

“There is a great deal of concern at the planned parade by dissident republicans in Belfast City Centre,” he said.

“I know that a number of City centre traders are concerned at this event taking place on a Saturday, with potential implications to affect trade.”

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