Republicans to hold protest during policing debate

 Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness

ANTI-internment campaigners are planning to hold a protest during a policing debate involving PSNI chief constable George Hamilton and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness next week.

The event, `Will the questions of the past ever be answered', has been organised as part of Féile an Phobail and is to take place at St Mary's University College on August 6.

A spokesman for the Anti-Internment League (AIL) last night said it expects "hundreds" of people to take part in a planned protest outside the Fall's Road venue.

The Anti-Internment League says it is made up of a number of groups including anti-agreement republicans, human rights advocates, community workers and trade union members.

It is planning to hold a major parade through Belfast city centre on August 9 to highlight what it calls "internment by remand".

A spokesman for the AIL said members will be present outside and inside the venue and that any protest will be peaceful.

"We find it unacceptable that George Hamilton has been welcomed to a festival that is meant to be organised by the community, given the high level of harassment and intimidation of residents in west Belfast by the PSNI," he said.

"The PSNI is under the direction of MI5 and it is totally unaccountable."

A spokesman for Féile an Phobail confirmed the event will go ahead as planned.

"People are well within their rights to hold a protest provided it's peaceable," he said.

Asked if they intend to step up security around the event a spokesman for the PSNI said: "We do not comment on operational matters."