St Patrick's Day union flag protest 'will go ahead'

Loyalists have said they plan to hold a 12 union flag vigil outside Belfast City Hall on St Patrick's Day despite opposition. Picture by Hugh Russell
John Monaghan

THE organisers of a planned 12 hour union flag vigil outside Belfast City Hall on St Patrick's Day have said they have no intentions of calling off their protest.

In a statement on its Facebook page, the Loyal Peoples Protest said it wanted to "reaffirm our commitment in our support of the Union flag protest".

The slogan "No Surrender" and "We will never back down" were posted alongside the advertisement for the St Patrick's Day protest.

The former DUP councillor Ruth Patterson, who is standing as an independent candidate in the Assembly elections, faced criticism from the group after urging the protestors to "think again" regarding their St Patrick's Day vigil.

Ms Patterson, a prominent supporter of the flag protests, said she did "not think there is a strategic or political purpose in organising a protest on St Patrick's Day".

However, the protest organisers said: "We would urge these same people to condemn those who will flaunt the Irish tricolour on this day, as they have in previous St Patrick Day parades through our city centre.

The group added: "The LPP Union Flag Vigil due to take place on the 17/3/16 will as planned take place . NO SURRENDER."

The protest is scheduled to begin at 1pm on March 17, a day when thousands of people will be congregating in the city centre to celebrate the patron saint.

The council's annual St Patrick's Day parade is set to depart the City Hall at noon en route to a concert at Custom House Square.

If the vigil goes ahead it will be the third consecutive year that Union flag protests have taken place at City Hall on March 17.

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