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Demo to oppose loyalist anti-refugee protest

Paul O'Connor from the Pat Finucance Centre
Connla Young

AN anti-racism group is planning to hold a counter demonstration during a loyalist backed anti-refugee protest in Belfast city centre later this month.

The planned protest by Belfast Anti-Fascists is expected to clash with a controversial demonstration organised by the Protestant Coalition which has been organised to oppose refugees coming to the north.

The Protestant Coalition, which grew out of the loyalist flag protests, has called for support on its Facebook page.

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

The plight of refugees was brought to international attention earlier this month when the body of a three-year-old Syrian boy was pictured washed up on a Turkish beach after the boat he and his family were travelling in capsized.

Belfast Anti-Fascists intends to hold its demonstration outside Belfast city centre at 1.30pm on Sunday, September 27 – 30 minutes before the Protestant Coalition plans to hold a rally.

In recent days the group has been contacting anti racism activists encouraging them to attend the counter demonstration.

“These people deserve as much opposition as possible and the majority of Belfast and beyond need to show the fascists and racists that they are not welcome to spout their hatred in our city,” the group said.

Counter demonstration organisers have banned all political flags and banners.

“We would appreciate it if you could make it to show we the majority are humane and have a social and moral conscience,” they said.

Paul O’Connor from the Pat Finucane Centre has previously slammed the loyalist protest.

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

A spokeswoman for the PSNI said: “Enquiries are continuing into this matter.”

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