Dublin flags protest postponed
A loyalist protest scheduled to take place outside Dáil Éireann in Dublin at the weekend has been postponed until a later date.
Protest organiser Willie Frazer, of the Families Acting for Innocent Relatives group, said after a meeting with gardaí the protest would go ahead in the future.
The protest was linked to the dispute surrounding the flying of the Union flag over Belfast City Hall. The group had planned to “sarcastically” ask for the Irish flag to be taken down and hand in a letter for the Taoiseach, requesting he “honours his commitment” to meet again with those representing the victims of the Kingsmills atrocity.
Dissident republicans were planning a counter-demonstration which had raised concern that there could be clashes in the city. Gardaí were preparing to mount a big security operation throughout the centre of Dublin on Saturday.
“After very constructive communications with the Garda Síochána I can confirm that we will now be travelling down on a date in the near future to discuss our many concerns around IRA collusion and many other issues,” Mr Frazer said in a statement.
“This will be a very welcome day when we as concerned Ulster citizens and victims of the IRA will be given the opportunity to have our concerns addressed in the atmosphere of a formal meeting.”
Mr Frazer, who was behind the Love Ulster parade in Dublin in 2006, said he welcomed the recognition by the Garda of the right of his group to peaceful protest in Dublin.
Asked about the development, a Garda spokesman replied that it was up to organisers of events to state whether or not they were going ahead.
"We can confirm that senior Garda management were in communication with a representative of Mr Frazer today. These discussions were both positive and constructive," a Garda statement said.
"As previously stated, An Garda Síochána facilitate peaceful protest and fully recognise the democratic right to do so. We also recognise the rights of others to go about their lawful business and the day to day needs of the business community and local residents. We would advise any organisation(s) who intend staging a protest or demonstration to contact An Garda Síochána in advance and the relevant local authority."
Mary Fitzpatrick, a Fianna Fáil member of Dublin City Council, said the cancellation of the protest should be welcomed. “It is encouraging that the organisers listened to the clear message coming from Dublin city that while freedom of expression is cherished in our city, anti-social behaviour and disruption of the peace by anybody, whatever the cause, will not be tolerated,” she said.
“I am sure residents and business operators in Northern Ireland would welcome an end to street protests there and a channelling of issues through the democratic process instead.”
The Union flag was flying over Belfast City Hall this morning to mark the Duchess of Cambridge’s birthday.
A special meeting of unionist representatives in Northern Ireland has been called in a bid to end loyalist unrest over a decision to only raise the emblem on 18 designated days.
Loyalists pelted police with bottles and stones in a new outbreak of trouble in east Belfast last night amid warnings that potential investors are turning away because of the street violence.
With riot police again facing hundreds of masked men around the lower Newtownards Road area, there is no sign of a halt to the protests.
Fireworks, rocks, golf balls and petrol bombs were fired at police lines on the sixth consecutive night of violence in the confined flashpoint area of east Belfast.
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson confirmed that representatives of the various unionist parties will meet at Stormont tomorrow to discuss the trouble, but leaders centrally involved in the protests who are threatening to take their campaign on to the streets of Dublin on Saturday have pledged they want no part in the discussions.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) claimed jobs would be lost and shops shut unless there is an immediate end to the trouble.