Worring news revealed as loyalist mob attack Belfast’s Sinn Fein mayor
FIVE loyalist groups plan to hold separate protests during a massive parade organised by anti-Good Friday Agreement republicans this week.
The protests – which include an unprecedented demonstration by the Orange Order – are in opposition to an internment parade which could involve up to 5,000 people marching through central Belfast on Friday evening. The news emerged last night as Sinn Fein mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir described how he was kicked and punched by a loyalist crowd as he attended an official event in the north of the city. Police said nine officers were injured while trying to protect the politician from protesters at Woodvale Park, near the scene of serious parade-related violence over the Twelfth of July period. A range of republican groups opposed to the agreement will be involved in Friday’s parade, which will travel across north and west Belfast via the city centre. In a significant move, the Orange Order has applied to the Parades Commission to hold a protest on Royal Avenue. Applications for separate protests have been made by two groups formed by leading figures in the recent Union Flag protests – United Protestant Voice and the Protestant Coalition. Last week the commission granted two previously unknown groups permission to hold protesters involving up to 150 people each – all at Royal Avenue. If all the protests are approved the number of loyalists involved could swell to 800, adding to the security headache at a time when bars and restaurants normally expect to be busy and thousands of visitors attend the World Police and Fire Games. Last night Orange Order spokesman the Rev Mervyn Gibson said the decision to protest at the Anti-Internment parade did not represent a “shift in policy” by the order. Parade organiser Dee Fennell vowed to press ahead. “This is not a republican parade. It’s a human rights parade that everyone is welcome to attend regardless of their political beliefs,” he said. Last night one Belfast restaurateur warned that more businesses would close “if the city centre is allowed to be used as a sectarian battleground”.
With many thanks to : Connla Young, The Irish News.
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