Loyalists to request lowering of Tricolour

Sat, Jan 5, 2013, 00:00

Ulster loyalists are to bring their union flag protest to Leinster House and ask for the Tricolour to be lowered.

As a rally was organised for outside Belfast City Hall this afternoon, plans were also under way for 150 loyalists to travel to the Dáil next week.

The group will “sarcastically” ask for the Irish flag to be taken down and will hand in a letter for the Taoiseach, requesting he “honours his commitment” to meet again with those representing the victims of the Kingsmills atrocity. The group met Enda Kenny last September to ask for a formal apology over IRA activity.

Organiser Willie Frazer – who was behind the Love Ulster parade in Dublin in 2006 – said the trip was intended in a “spirit of respect”. He said “when we ask for the Tricolour to be taken down, it’s a tongue-in-cheek gesture. It’s to give Irish people a sense of how we feel. I would be very offended if I was living in Ireland and someone came and asked me to take the flag down. That’s exactly how we feel in Belfast. People keep telling us we’re still part of the UK, yet here we are without a flag.”

It is envisaged that three busloads of protesters will protest outside Leinster House next week, but the day has not been confirmed.

Meanwhile, thousands of loyalists are expected to congregate outside Belfast City Hall at 1pm today. Protests in the North have resumed after a Christmas lull and there was localised trouble last night and the previous night in the Albertbridge Road area of east Belfast.

On Thursday evening, ten police officers were injured and two protesters were arrested after rioting broke out. One of them, 23-year-old Christopher Shires, appeared in court yesterday. He was refused bail and remanded in custody.