Northern Ireland news

Call for calm ahead of Newry loyalist band parade and anti-internment picket

SDLP assembly member Justin McNulty
Connla Young

Republicans and loyalists have been urged to show "respect" for each other ahead of a band parade and anti-internment picket in Newry.

Up to 26 bands and 1,000 participants are expected to take part in a parade through the city on Friday evening.

The South Down Defenders Flute Band, say up to 200 supporters will also take part in the parade, which will start at 7.15pm from the Downshire Road.

Hardline republican party Saoradh also plan to hold an anti-internment rally in the same location - which is close to the city's courthouse - at 7pm.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of internment when hundreds of nationalists were detained without charge in August 1971.

Saoradh spokesman Stephen Murney said plans were announced last month.

"This picket will afford people the opportunity to remember the internment of the past whilst highlighting present day internment," he said.

In a post on its Facebook page South Down Defenders said: "All visiting bands should be aware that an anti-internment protest is planned to commence at (7pm) in the vicinity of the courthouse along the route...

"Our own marshals will be in attendance at various points along the route and we would ask for every bands cooperation with their directions to ensure a smooth and disciplined parade."

SDLP assembly member Justin McNulty last night appealed for calm.

"The people of Newry have always shown tolerance of each other when it comes to band parades and protests in the city," he said.

"It is important that this tolerance and respect continues.

“I would appeal to everyone involved to remain calm and show respect for each other’s tradition and culture."

Mr McNulty said he has spoken to the PSNI and urged "them to handle the situation with the sensitivity required to avoid confrontation and ensure that both the parade and protest pass off peacefully.”

The PSNI were contacted for a response.

Meanwhile, loyalists are planning to an anti-Northern Ireland Protocol protest in Co Fermanagh tonight.

Prominent loyalist Jamie Bryson and TUV leader Jim Allister are expected to be guest speakers at an event in Enniskillen.

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