Pressure mounting before weekend parade…

It’s clear the pressure is piling up for the parade at the weekend, some of it no doubt deliberate. Staff at the Parades Commission building have been told to evacuate this afternoon. Sinn Fein’s last minute involvement looks to have been forced on them by what had looked like a fairly minor protest by micro Republican pressure group Éirígí. The parade itself had been known about for weeks. And much of the media running has been made by fairly junior members of the party. And now it seems the place chosen for the gathering for the party#s protest actually clashes with Mass at St Mary’s in Chapel Lane, rumoured to be one of a number of problems highlighted by a late application by the SDLP to the Commission for amendment by both the Army and the (legal) protesters.

The SDLP believe that steps can be taken to de-escalate present fears and unease. This would not be a ban on a parade or a protest. But statements can be made and actions can be taken to help diffuse the situation. Everybody, including the British Army and Sinn Fein, clearly have a responsible to do so.

The last thing that people in Belfast want is more tension and anxiety in the run up to the weekend. This situation can be turned around. The SDLP will work privately and have conversations in an attempt to do so. A review by the Parades Commission can send out the message that everybody has more to do to protect community relations and help public order.”

As Brian notes, Gordon Brown has indicated that the parade will go ahead. Sinn Fein appears caught in a nasty cleft stick: needing to look sufficiently hard line in low level competition for activists (rather than voters as such) with Éirígí in certain select Republican areas. And to show the kind of leadership it displayed in the run up the the Love Ulster demonstration in Dublin a few years back.

Conall Devitt reckons it’s yet another vacuum the city could do without.

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  • Move the parade/protest for mass. As good an excuse as any. The irony of meeting outside St Mary’s will probably be lost on many.

    As for worrying about Belfast’s brand. Is it any wonder our politics are so vacuous when this is the light in which things are viewed.

  • Yet again the SDLP’s compassion is set against the arrogance of Sinn Fein.

    This situation is a really dangerous one and could result in a return of the good old days when everything was a risk that might result in violence.

    Let’s be sensible.

  • autocue

    Surely making the protest wait until after mass whilst the parade takes place presents an ideal opportunity to reduce the amount of time protestors/people watching the homecoming event are in close proximity to each other?

  • michael

    Compassion of political game playing by the SDLP?
    Are they really expressing compassion here or trying to make themselves relevent by involving themselves unnecessarily in a hotly debated political topic?

  • autocue

    michael

    Of course how foolish – the only nationalist voice that can be heard on this topic is the braying fools of Eirigi or the desperate Shinners terrified of being outflanked by them. Wise up.

  • michael

    Autocue
    Eirigi are a tiny microgroup based around a few disgruntled individuals. To try and paint them as a credibel threat to Sinn Fein is ludicrous. They are certainly not Sinn Fein’s TUV.

  • RedMole

    My advice to the RIR

    Fight to a Finish
    Siegfried Sassoon

    The boys came back. Bands played and flags were flying,
    And Yellow-Pressmen thronged the sunlit street
    To cheer the soldiers who’d refrained from dying,
    And hear the music of returning feet.
    “Of all the thrills and ardours War has brought,
    This moment is the finest.” (So they thought.)

    Snapping their bayonets on to charge the mob,
    Grim Fusiliers broke ranks with glint of steel.
    At last the boys had found a cushy job.
    * * * * *
    I heard the Yellow-Pressmen grunt and squeal;
    And with my trusty bombers turned and went
    To clear those Junkers out of Parliament.

  • New Yorker

    So SDLP has to help SF out of yet another mess they got themselves into. Where would SF be without SDLP? Back in the bog, fighting a losing war with the Brits closing in on them.

  • heck

    what sort of idiot would think that having a regiment of the British Army coat trailing through Belfast whould not cause offense to a sizeable part of the population, and that it would not lead to trouble?

    And where at the usual suspects on this site who drip with faux outrage when republicans honour their dead?

    this group is celebrating going off to third world countries to kill and torture peasants. aside from the Brits role in Ireland this march should be protested because of the colonial history or the british army and for the millions it has killed around the world.

    kenya/cyprus/aden anyone?

  • dosser

    Conall,

    get real – Belfast’s brand hasn’t changed; it’s still a sectarian city, and evidence shows that segregation and forms of social alientation are getting even more acute.

    Despite the Potemkin Village facade of Victoria Square, some of us aren’t fooled. Certainly tourists aren’t buying into the new Belfast. Tourists visit Belfast come because they are consumers of dark tourism: they want to see the ‘old’peace walls, the murals and caged drinking shabeens.

    If they want vibrant and cosmopolitan, they go to Rio and Paris.

    Nor is the new Belfast particularly sucessful in envouraging foreign direct investment, with more transnational corporations downsizing or shipping out than showing any appetite for increased investment.

    Moreover, I think given the exegencies of the current global economy, it’s not a great time to be wedding Belfast to neo-liberalism, do you?

  • KieranJ

    10 Downing Street has just advised that Brit paratroopers will be flown into Belfast along with snipers to protect the RIR marchers in Sunday’s parade.

    The Paras will be hidden on rooftops in the center city area and reportedly have been given permission to fire on anyone who appears to be reaching for a weapon.

  • lee

    ’10 Downing Street has just advised that Brit paratroopers will be flown into Belfast along with snipers to protect the RIR marchers in Sunday’s parade.’

    Another British regiment with a shocking record of abuse in Iraq.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/feb/06/iraq.military

  • RepublicanStones

    Is that a ball-hop Kieran?

    But hey, lets face it the Paras don’t need much of an excuse to scatter the brass.

  • KieranJ

    Sorry, Republican Stones, I’m just a wee American lad and I’m afraid I don’t know the meaning of term “ball-hop”.

  • RepublicanStones

    A spoof/piss-take.

  • polly anna

    It was completely made up b*lls (about the Paras).

    Enjoy the hysteria – this is going to amount to nothing, or next to nothing. We are losing the run of ourselves. Is it just nostalgia?

  • Mick Fealty

    KeiranJ,

    Malign Sockpuppeting is not encouraged. That’s your second in a week. That will be a yellow card to you.

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    “Sinn Fein appears caught in a nasty cleft stick: needing to look sufficiently hard line in low level competition for activists (rather than voters as such) with Éirígí in certain select Republican areas.”

    I’d query how much they need to look hard line to “compete” with a group no-one has heard of “for activists (rather than voters as such)” in “certain select areas”. Whatever the factors that influence their thinking, I’d imagine they are a bit bigger than eirigi. “Hard line” sloganising is impressing no-one in republican areas.

  • Ranger1640

    Heck and Irish republican terrorist have never murdered babies???????????????

  • Driftwood

    Micks title here about pressure mounting is, of course, quite true. Pressure needs releasing, and that why there may be fears about trouble on Sunday. The sad fact that the Chuckle brothers routine was a sticking plaster. The parties and Westminster have been in a form of collective denial that the place has been ‘sorted’. Well maybe it has, but mindsets take a long time to replace and this issue appears to be resurfacing some of them. That said, Gerry and Martin seem not overtly keen on their protest, and slightly distancing themselves on the outside chance it ends in tears. The best thing SF could do by far, is cancel the protest, and the DUP would be under pressure to respond with a goodwill gesture?

  • Driftwood,

    … and the DUP would be under pressure to respond with a goodwill gesture?

    Unlikely. Firstly becase the DUP tend to ‘bank’ rather than reciprocate, and secondly because it is not a ‘DUP’ event (officially).

  • eranu

    “Pressure mounting before weekend parade…”

    is it pressure? or is it enjoyment at being able to release a good ould rant? people in NI love a good rant. if they had ranting in the olympics other countries wouldnt stand a chance. arguing over education just doesnt hit the spot for alot of folks. i cant help thinking about that scene in 2001 where the 2 groups of apes confront each other with lots of arm waving and grunting. all the fuss on the internet is getting a bit silly if you ask me. people will be at the pub on saturday and in work on monday. lets catch ourselves on 🙂

  • cynic

    “Sinn Fein appears caught in a nasty cleft stick”

    …. of their own unthinking creation. They are starting to make the UUP look good!

  • LURIG

    I’m willing to bet that most of the posters on here won’t be within a balloon trip of Belfast City Centre on Sunday. Empty vessels make the most noise and you can picture all the armchair generals throwing the rocks and bottles……..from the comfort of a big sofa with SKY news on. It’s the usual story. The RIR should have their parade for their soldiers, families and officials ONLY and Sinn Fein should have their protest with Victims Groups and relatives ONLY. Everyone else should be curfewed from the city centre for a few hours. So called supporters, dissident protests, sunglassed Uncle Andys and hangers on should be told they won’t get within a lions roar of the city centre. It might be anti-democratic but it will be far more anti-democratic if some poor unfortunate loses their life. I hate the fact that there are those, especially within Unionism, who are licking their lips at the thought of a big riot kicking off. Certain prominant Unionists have been winding this up all week which has only encouraged Loyalists elements to get involved too. You can hear the glee in some of their voices. Brian Feeney had the best article on this today in the Irish News, as usual.

  • Danny O’Connor

    To see Paul Maskey on UTV complaining about the amount of Belfast people killed by the British army without even batting an eyelid,given the IRA’s track record is totally hypocritical.
    SF only seem to want rights for SF without even the slightest acknowledgement that the Unionist people are equally outraged at their coat trailig over the graves of the victims of the provo murder machine- Shankill ,La Mon etc.
    Two competing perspectives,both have a case,if a shared future is to be more than just a soundbite then there has to be tolerance-given that some don’t seem to be at the mutual respect stage yet-of competing rights in a shared space.

  • ulsterfan

    Are Sf really opposed to the war in Iraq?
    If so why are they not protesting at the USA Consulate and at the same time making sure CNN and Fox news are present to tell their supporters in America of this great strike for democracy and justice for the Taliban.

  • RepublicanStones

    Lets face it Ulsterfan, when have the yanks ever listened to anyone?

    Also, its not about the taliban, its about the Afghan people. Unless your saying they’re one and the same.

  • ulsterfan

    Rs
    You are confusing the debate.
    If Sf really opposed the war in Afghanistan their protest would be against USA and the Consulate in Belfast is a focal point.
    No American protest suggests they oppose the parade for different reasons namely the presence of the British Army on the streets of Belfast and for no other reason.
    This shows some hypocrisy on their part when they accepted the presence of 5000 troops to be garrisoned in NI. This was agreed with GFA and at St Andrews.

  • RepublicanStones

    Eh Ulsterfan there is a big difference between garrisoning troops here and having them parade through Belfast, no?

    ‘No American protest suggests they oppose the parade for different reasons namely the presence of the British Army on the streets of Belfast and for no other reason.’

    And with good historical legitimacy, no? Perhaps there is an element of anti-british army, you seem to think nationalists/republicans have no reason to be such. But why can the protest not be about both, objecting to the war and objecting to British armed forces on our streets. You may disagree with one or both of those issues, but if you deny that a section of our community has a reasonable claim to be unhappy with british armed forces, your not being genuine.

  • Driftwood

    RS
    There are now 4 threads on this subject..

    and objecting to British armed forces on our streets. FFS

    The PSNI are British and armed. They are the civil force here. And on OUR streets, armed. SF signed up at GFA for the British Army to be the only legitimate Defence of NI. They signed up for MI5 at Palace Barracks. Thiepval, Ballykinlar etc..
    Relax and enjoy the RAF flypast on Sunday, replete with Apache Gunship on show.
    Some may think this is showing who’s boss bullshit. It’s not. It’s a tribute for those who wish to see friends and relations. I disagree about UK foreign policy adventures at US behest also. Is there not a GAA match you can go to and leave the army families some relief. otherwise this will run and run. Monday morning we can all get back to why our 106 MLA’s cannot agree on wild squirrels in Poleglass or whatever….

  • Danny O’Connor

    driftwood ,where have the other 2 gone?

  • KieranJ

    To all Irishmen and Irishwomen in the six counties:

    Come out on Sunday and put your bodies on the line for Irish freedom.

    Stop the foreign bastards who want to march on your soil.

    As the great Irish patriot, Eamon de Valera, said to the population upon his capture and march through the streets of Dublin to his imprisonment, “IF ONLY YOU HAD COME OUT WITH KNIVES AND FORKS”.

  • Forecast

    KieranJ

    I suppose you have already bought your flight from the states to ‘lay your body on the line for Irish freedom’ then?

    If not, stop sh*t stirring…..

  • eranu

    “COME OUT WITH KNIVES AND FORKS” is there food being put on or something? i suppose thats all americans think about! kieran do you realise you are making an arse of yourself?

  • autocue

    What a delightful specimen Kieran, our American friend is. I wonder does he know that the Shinners consider Dev to be a traitor?

  • autocue

    Also, what does anyone make of my suggestion re. changing the protest time to ensure the two groups of people do not clash?

  • think theres a good case for membership log-in only…

    weed out the nut bars

  • eranu

    autocue, it would be too sensible to change the protest time. it would also be too sensible to follow their own type of arguments and move the protest to the falls road where it wont cause offence.
    the dogs in the street know that these republican protesters just want to cause trouble because of their insane bitterness. they’ve bitten the hand of friendship thats been reluctantly reached out towards them with the ideal of powersharing at stormont. in my view they’re right back in the gutter with the disgust of all decent people.

  • Steve

    Eranu

    It would be the most logical thing to cancel the parade and thereby end all protests and counter protests

    One neat nice little solution

  • eranu

    steve, do you actually believe that that is logical? what your saying is – republicans hate anything british and threaten to cause trouble, so dont have anything british around. isnt that it? your saying people who threaten violence should be appeased arent you?

  • eranu,

    … the hand of friendship thats been reluctantly reached out towards them with the ideal of powersharing at stormont

    You mean the one where the DUP vetoes everything of importance to nationalists?

    That’s a ‘hand of friendship’?

  • eranu

    i mean accepting terrorists into government and being willing to work with them. giving them a chance to show they’ve changed and have put those evil ways behind them. that sort of thing.
    the veto thing was agreed by all, and is available to all. they’ve all shot themselves in the foot on that one. not getting what you want is how the system works on every issue, unless its reasonable enough to get cross community support. its as simple as that. why dont nationalists try wanting something thats reasonable enough to get cross community support?

  • Glen Taisie

    Why did Sinn Fein not

    Refuse to meet War Criminal George Bush

    Refuse to send Martin McGuinness as US/Brit peace envoy to Iraq

    Distant themselves from George Bush and the most fervant supporter of the “War On Terror” Senator Peter King

    Tell you what ask them to invite Peter King to Sunday’s Protest

    HYPOCRITES !!
    HYPOCRITES !!
    HYPOCRITES !!
    HYPOCRITES !!

  • Steve

    Eranu

    No i would be saying that the british army is threatening to bring violence to the street and if they really are a force for good they should retire before they cause violence

  • Steve

    Eranu

    mean accepting terrorists into government and being willing to work with them. giving them a chance to show they’ve changed and have put those evil ways behind them. that sort of thing

    I agree Eranu it was very mature of Sinn Fein to go into government with unrepentant terrorists, too bad they can not get past their past

  • eranu,

    … why dont nationalists try wanting something thats reasonable enough to get cross community support?

    Oh dear, oh dear. Why can’t nationalists just stop being nationalists and become good little unionists (like ‘decent people’)?

    You simply on’t get power-sharing, do you? Until you do (all unionists, that is), nothing much is going to happen in NI. Nationalsts will keep wanting nationalist things, most of which are ‘reasonable’, by the way. Until unionism starts to agree with them, NI is in a stalemate. That’s what a mutual veto means.

  • youtuber

    Republican Stones stick to putting video`s of yourself driving up the Shankill on youtube, it shows your mentality.
    BRIT HATER TO THE BITTER END

  • Caoimhín83

    True Danny, the IRA did kill people of which they issued a statement apologising for any non-combatants that met this fate.
    The RIR have issued no such statement, plus I can’t remember the IRA parading through the city centre in full military attire of late!