27 February 2006

Love Ulster considers return visit to Dublin

Belfast Telegraph

By Noel McAdam
27 February 2006

Organisers of Saturday's Love Ulster rally today said they were considering another protest in Dublin despite the weekend riots.

Unionists have demanded a full inquiry into the disturbances over the march which left central Dublin looking like a battlefield.

But the Republic's Justice Minister, Michael McDowell, who was today due to receive a Garda report on the violence, said there was no need for a public inquiry.

His rebuff came as victims groups who organised the Saturday parade, supported by the Love Ulster organisation, were due to meet to consider their next move.

And it emerged they have not ruled out a return visit, possibly within the next month.

Organiser Willie Frazer said: "We don't want to see Dublin wrecked again but at the same time we cannot let these people win.

"It seems the Dublin City Council and some of their politicians would want us to go back and, if we did, it should be in about a month or so. But there were some people there who had never been over the border before and say they will never go back."

With the Dublin Cabinet tomorrow due to discuss the disturbances - estimated to have cost £7m - Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey today called for a full inquiry.

"In particular to identify those involved in the disturbances," he said, "because our information points to the involvement of mainstream republicans.

"Republican Sinn Fein (RSF) would not have had the capability to mount such a demonstration on its own. There was clear evidence of widespread preparation for violence and the denials of republicans ring hollow," he said.

Ruairi O Bradaigh of RSF, however, denied his party had orchestrated the mayhem which failed to prevent the 600-strong parade taking place past Leinster House after marchers were bussed across the city.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams condemned the mayhem as "reprehensible" and insisted his party members were urged not to protest.

As the remainder of the 43 arrested were today due to begin appearances in Dublin Criminal Court, it emerged further arrests are expected after gardai study closed circuit television footage from various points of the city.

Gardai said they had no advance knowledge of the level of protests planned. Assistant Commissioner Al McHugh said intelligence did not indicate there would be violence on such a scale.

Mr McDowell said there would not be a public inquiry, but said the force needed to learn from what had happened.

Retailers in Dublin city centre estimate the riots will result in them losing millions of euro. A number of shops and offices were damaged and looted during the violent protests.

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