08 February 2006

Love Ulster counter demo

Daily Ireland

by Ciarán Barnes

Dissident republicans have unveiled plans for a counter demonstration against the planned Love Ulster parade through Dublin.
On February 25, up to 1,000 loyalists, accompanied by prominent unionist politicians and members of the Orange Order, are expected to march in the centre of the capital.
At Christmas, the Continuity IRA threatened to disrupt the demonstration, describing it as a display of unionist triumphalism.
Yesterday, the organisation’s political wing, Republican Sinn Féin (RSF), made public its plans to picket the parade.
Supporters will gather at the top of O’Connell Street next to the Parnell monument as loyalists march past.
With both groups set to come within yards of each other, there are fears of clashes.
RSF vice-president Des Dalton said the Love Ulster parade represented “sectarianism, bigotry and racism”.
“Those who are organising this march represent the same people who have burned homes, schools and churches across the six counties,” said Mr Dalton.
“They represent groups who have murdered innocent uninvolved people as a matter of policy simply because of their religion. They speak about tolerance, yet when was a nationalist parade of any kind, cultural or political, been allowed to take place in Portadown or east Belfast?
“Many nationalist communities are afraid to even display GAA club or county colours in case of loyalist attack,” added Mr Dalton.
“We are calling on all of our members and supporters as well as all who oppose this march to join us on February 25.”
Love Ulster organiser Willie Frazer has said the organisation will co-operate with the Garda to avoid disruption.
“There will be around half-a-dozen bands, though many more were interested in taking part,” he said.
“In the region of 200 to 300 victims will go and Orangemen too. We would expect to take around 1,000.”
Love Ulster rallies similar to that organised for Dublin are being planned for London and Brussels.
Last October, the group held a rally on Belfast’s Shankill Road, attracting a crowd of 30,000 loyalists.
Love Ulster says it wants to spread the message of unionist discontent beyond the North.
Ulster Defence Association (UDA) leader Jackie McDonald helped launch the campaign in August.
The loyalist paramilitary boss’ involvement drew widespread condemnation from nationalists and victims campaigners.

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