Northern Ireland news

Protest planned during Belfast anti-internment parade

Anti-Internment League spokesmanDee Fennell
Connla Young

A protest is planned during an anti-internment parade through Belfast city centre this weekend.

Up to 500 people and four bands are set to take part in the Anti-Internment League parade on Saturday.

The Parades Commission gave the controversial annual march the green light last week.

A group known as Northern Ireland Against Terrorism has now asked the commission for permission to hold a protest involving 300 participants.

Last year the group organised a rally at Belfast City Hall which was addressed by speakers including Britain First leader Paul Golding and Belfast independent councillor Jolene Bunting.

Organisers of the republican parade are seeking permission to march from Writer's Square on Donegall Street at 1.15pm to City Hall, via Royal Avenue and 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.

Participants have been told to disperse at Donegall Square North no later than 2pm and speeches are to take place only on a pavement to the west side of Donegall Square North.

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 last night said the group would welcome the right of everyone to protest.

“The only violence that has ever come from this parade has come from loyalists and they (Parades Commission) need to be cognisant of that,” he added.

Organisers meanwhile have dismissed reports that Co Tyrone republican Damien McLaughlin is set to lead the parade.

Last month McLaughlin was acquitted of aiding and abetting the murder of prison officer David Black who was shot dead by the ‘IRA' in November 2012.

His son Kyle was reported to have voiced concern about McLaughlin taking part in the parade.

In a statement the Parades Commission said it has “received confirmation” from the organiser that McLaughlin “has not been invited to participate in the parade in any way”.

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