Organiser of weekend parade named
Politicians from all sides called for the march to be banned or moved to another day. They and business leaders said the organisers’ identities should be made public so that they could be challenged. Police and the Parades Commission refused to publish the names for “data protection” reasons. Yesterday The Irish News revealed that the organiser whose identity has been concealed for weeks was John ‘Dougie’ Lanigan, pictued above. He is orginally from Belfast but is believed to live with his wife in Antrim. Two police officers were injured after the parade and the protest breached a commission ruling by failing to leave the city centre by 12.30pm. The march, which marked almost a year since councillors voted to restrict flying the Union Flag from the city hall, was organised under the name of Loyal Peaceful Protesters. The parade application estimated that up to 10,000 loyalists and 40 bands would join the demonstration but in the end just over 1,000 people and two bands materialised at the city hall on Saturday. The Sash was also played as the parade passed the nationalist Carrick Hill area of North Belfast. Friends took to social networking sites to congratulate Mr Lanigan for the protest, descibing him as “a true loyalist”. It is understood he was asked to hand himself in to police on Monday over a breach of a commission ruling. When asked by The Irish News on Monday night about his role, he said: “We have nothing to say to any of the papers.” Police said officers interviewed a “49-year-old man in connection with a breach of a Parades Commission determination on Saturay November 30 2013 in Belfast city centre“. The man voluntarily attended a Belfast police station on Monday afternoon. He was later released pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service. In September, the same loyalist organisation held another unlawful parade through the city centre towards the Shankill area. More than 3,000 protesters joined the Saturday afternoon demonstration, which breached a Parades Commission determination by setting off from city hall an hour later than planned. Politicians including Shame Fein’s Gerry Kelly, Alban Maginness of the SDLP and Glyn Roberts of the Nothern Ireland Independant Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) had previously called for the organisers of Saturday’s parade to be named. Mr Maginness said there needed to be more accountabilty from those organising parades. “If there is not a duty on those who have made the application to disclose their identity there ought to be in the interests of scrutiny,” the North Belfast MLA said ahead of Saturday’s protest. “It’s reasonable for those who are organising to identify themselves or be identified.
With many thanks to: Brendan Hughes, The Irish News.