Belfast – a tale of three protests

Belfast is protest central tomorrow – for the leftie, libertarian, socialist, republican or just plain serial moaner you are positively spoilt for choice.

In the best traditions of protest, you will have to choose because three protests take place separately and are essentially competing.

You could join the protest against the DUP/SF drafted bill that would restrict the right to public assemblyStop the Public Assemblies Bill, leaving the Arts College at 12pm heading towards the City Hall.

You could assemble at the City Hall at 12pm for an éirigí organised protest against Armed Forces Day celebrations by Belfast City Council.

Or you could join Sinn Féin protesting outside their own office on the Falls about Armed Forces Day celebrations at City Hall .

The only thing guaranteed is, if the proposed legisaltion from DUP/SF on Public Assemblies became law the SF protest would have been illegal along with the éirígí one – so maybe joining the march is the best idea?

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  • taoiseach

    Is Da from Give My Head Peace running Sinn Fein now then? This is a farce.

  • The Third Policeman

    Hmm…what a conundrum. I’m against picketing…but I don’t know how to show it.

  • aquifer

    I like the misprint on the Parade Commissions website suggesting that the demo is departing from ‘Art Collage Gardens’

    Hopefull eirigi won’t be mixing up the media with council army flags and peoples democratic civil rights banners.

    That would be dissing the public under orders.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    has the éirigí one been agreed by the parades commission?

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    SF protesting outside their own offices about armed forces, an apt description of their own military wing, apparently worthy of celebration while others aren’t. You couldn’t make it up.

  • Mark McGregor


    I’ve no insight but I think they are doing Public Assembly not parade – a Public Assembly doesn’t require permission from anyone, it counts as a human right. Under British law it doesn’t require any consent, same as the SF white line – it falls under the Public Order Act, only restricted if a danger to life, property etc.

  • Pete Baker

    “Or you could join Sinn Féin protesting outside their own office on the Falls about Armed Forces Day celebrations at City Hall .”

    “Down with this sort of thing!”

  • joeCanuck

    Yes, you could join one of those three; that is if you have nothing better to do such as looking out of the window drinking a beer if it’s raining, or sitting out in your garden drinking a beer if it’s not raining.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    So there will be a protest and a celebration in the same place -sounds as if armed forces day is going to have a bit of action.

    It seems unwise to have an armed forces day in Belfast anyway and dangerous to have a protest in the middle of it.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Presumably the earwig mob will be observing a minute’s silence for their ‘lost’ martyrs Milosevic and Saddam Hussein while they’re at it ?

  • Joe

    Your suggestions might be more enjoyable, but they are not necessary better. My take on armed forces day is here.

  • Nunoftheabove


    So you share the view that “…in the 21st century the British army is tormenting the Afghan people for much the same reasons as it did in the 19th” ?

  • Drumlin Rock

    It a little Ironic that virtually none of those protest-ing at all these protests will be protest-ants.

  • NOTA

    Yes sadly I do, I would like it to have been some noble crusade as my tax pounds help to pay for it, but I do not see it myself.

    Just like the Brits in the 19th Century, in all probability, Obama will end up buying the Talaban leaders off, how else could his deadline for withdrawing US troops otherwise be met?

  • Nunoftheabove

    Isn’t an attempt to overthrow the taliban in principle noble ? We can argue all day about how well /poorlyexecuted the intervention has been, but in the round wouldn’t you say that regime change was justified if not actually necessary ?

  • daisy

    I hope they’re all paying for the policing costs of these protests. There’s a recession people!

    On the bright side, I’m sure the chief constable is praying for all of you.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Not really, no.

  • Nunoftheabove

    LOL, yes the CPA President will no doubt spend the night on his knees feverishly pleading with the Almighty for it all to go well on the day. I do hope that his officers won’t feel the need to ‘lay hands’ on the assembled masses.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Or you could send a proxy note to one, two or three of the Demos and go to Crossmaglen for Armagh-Donegal.

  • daisy

    There are many regimes which should be changed but regime change is only necessary if the powerful deem it so.

  • Rory Carr

    Will Prince Charles be going, Fitzjameshorse? Is he cadging a lift from you?

  • Rory Carr

    “Isn’t an attempt to overthrow the taliban in principle noble ?” asks Nunoftheabove .

    The answer is that it might be if it were an attempt by the Afghan people alone. But no attempt by outside forces to intervene in the affairs of the Afghan people, completely disregarding their sovereignty and their right to develop as a nation as they see fit, can be deemed noble.

    Certainly, in the present case, the motivation behind the intervention by the US and Britain is ignoble in the extreme, their pretend concern for the extension of western liberal social policies a despicable figleaf to disguise their real intent which is to control the access to material wealth which Afghanistan offers and enrich their corporate backers in the process while the people go hang.

    Those who would have as believe that it’s all about access of women to education are merely rogues, those who would swallow that line are, at best, fools.

  • Nunoftheabove


    So i nfact you don’t have a view on regime change at all then ?

  • Nunoftheabove

    Rory Carr

    So the taliban were fine and presented no danger to Afghan citizens or to other states; as such they should have been left alone, yes ?

    Re. material wealth and ‘real intent’ – your evidence for this please.

    Re. actual/potential benefits to Aghan citizens as a result of the toppling of the taliban regime. Are you denying them or merely dismissing them as unimportant ?

  • Cormac Mac Art



  • joeCanuck

    I checked the link. Well reasoned and well written article.
    I don’t see much point in protesting against it unlike the Public Assembly (lack of) nonsense. It’s not compulsory to be part of it; just ignore the politicos.

  • TheHorse

    Why these same people stand back then when men, women and children were being butchered in Rwanda in front of the worlds media and Nato forces refused to intervene to save innocent civilians being hacked to death with machetes. Is there no oil or minerials in Rwanda.

  • Cynic

    I assume that all the eirgi protesters today will have notified the DSS that they aren’t ‘available for work’ today.

  • Cynic

    “the access to material wealth which Afghanistan offers”

    …as 50% of GDP is heroin production, are you suggesting Obama is a smack head?

  • Nunoftheabove

    Fox the current minister of defence in the UK government said recently Afghanistan is like thirteen century Europe.

    If you think this one through, it makes the chances of the NATO occupying powers turning Afghanistan into a modern democratic state an impossibility. European societies had to experience a host of different process, which took hundreds of years, before we arrive at where we are today; and if we look back to the 20th century are own civilisation is only wafer thin.

    Now the fact Fox and Cameron understand all this makes a nonsense of their claims about wishing to democratise the Afghan State

    Rory is spot on, It is for the Afghan people to decide what type of governments they have, just as it was for us Europeans to struggle to democratise our way of life (Our presence in Afghanistan shows we still have some way to go).

    As far as the average Afghani is concerned, or indeed any citizen of any state, the right to life must be our number one priority as far as a government is concerned. This the majority of Afghanis today do not have, as they are threatened on one side by Nato forces, and on the other by those who resist them and can loosely be termed the Talaban.

    Building up the Talaban as some international terrorist conspiracy is to daft for words. Indeed if Bush had showed more patience and a little good sense, the Talaban would have found a way to remove Bin Laden from Afghanistan without betraying their religious and cultural beliefs.Saving face is big in this part of the world; and apart from Karsi, few Afghan’s jump, no matter who tells them to.

    The Talaban must be one of the few political Organization which has little interest in the rest of the world, like a tiger if you cease to torment it by poking it with a big stick it will quieten down.

    Its greatest, nay only wish is to wallow in what we may regard as ignorance, thus even if some form of Talaban government returned to power, it would not last long in power if it reverted back to its 8th century mentality.

    Indeed if the West had any sense it would withdraw front line troops and give the Talaban enough rope to destroy itself.

    Three things today draw the Afghan people towards supporting the Talaban, the corrupt Karsi government, occupation and the brutality which is inherent within it, and the centuries old Afghan tradition of opposing all who come bayonet in hand. if you end the second you solve the problems which arise from the first and third.

    I do wonder whether NL or Lib/Tory politicos have ever read a history book, a million allied troops occupied Germany at the end of WW2, 100,000 plus could not control Iraq, in the tiny six counties, the British army at one time had over 20,000 plus troops and police to control the PIRA ,which had a fraction of that number in the field.

    Do the maths, occupying a country takes a large number of troops and a cash fund to match. In a nation like Afghanistan, where there is little central government control, you would need tens if not hundreds of thousands of grunts on the ground. Without these numbers what you end up with is endless firefighting, when the military crush one mini rebellion another opens up in a different location. If anyone doubts this, check out the futility of the last 8 years.

  • TheHorse

    Yes anyone who opposes modern day colonialism and the slaughter of innocents in the pursuit of profits for the global elite are unemployed miscreants. You’re scraping the bottom of the barrel with your assumptions.

  • Nunoftheabove


    I would not be inclined to take terribly seriously a word that comes out of Liam Fox’s mouth.

    Isn’t the best way of establishing what form of government Afghanis want to participate is for them to participate in freely constituted elections ?

    “The Talaban must be one of the few political Organization which has little interest in the rest of the world” – oh like kashmir, you mean ?

    “they are threatened on one side by Nato forces, and on the other by those who resist them and can loosely be termed the Talaban”. – the only deliberate targetting of Afghani civilians is being undertaken by Afghani terrorists, you’ll find. Just as was the case before the intervention.

    “like a tiger if you cease to torment it by poking it with a big stick it will quieten down.” So in other words give them whatever they want, capitulate to their every requirement and then turn a blind eye (in deference presumably to some form of nauseating liberal esteem for ‘their beliefs’) while the taliban return Afghanistan to the cruel pitiful stoneage dictatorship existence it was undergoing prior to the intervention ?

    This is a war which really must be won and it will happen. For now, it needs supporting whether it’s going well or not.

  • Is there no protest against the whiterock parade?

  • “the only deliberate targetting of Afghani civilians is being undertaken by Afghani terrorists, you’ll find. Just as was the case before the intervention.”

    With this quote you demonstrate your ignorance of war and why the conflict in Afghanistan will never be won by NATO forces.

    When foreigners come to your country uninvited, it matters not a jot to those who are occupied how their loved ones are killed and maimed. All they wish to know is who did the foul deed.

    For they understand perfectly, if foreign troops had not come to their land they would not have been able to kill their loved ones.

    This is not rocket science, it is why people of all beliefs join resistance movements or give them succour when their country is occupied. If there is a single lesson from Iraq and Afghanistan it is this. No matter if people have the best of intention, in post imperial counties occupation will always end badly, as NATO armed forces are trained to do one thing well; and one thing only, kill people.

    If we lose sight of this fact we are in la la land, which is basically where we have been for since 2003.

    I pointed out why it is impossible to simple weld on democracy to an archaic semi feudal state, and how slowly our own democracy took to mature, yet you do not even go there, simply voice jingoistic platitudes about fighting to the death.

    I would suggest to you, there is nothing patriotic about sending young people to war, to kill and be killed in a hopeless cause.

  • Nunoftheabove


    I am no patriot so let’s get that out of the way. I

    would suggest to you that non-internvention in criminal fascist theocratic terrorist states – turning a blind eye, as you might say – is simply the non-internventionist form of imperialism. It’s imperialism through sins of omission. And it certainly isn’t a pacifist position either, so let’s have no more of that inference or piss poor attempt to seize some form of wishy-washy moral high ground. It is nothing of the sort and those holding to that position are either dishonest (like the riff-raffish Respect party, for example) or extremely naive.

    Had your line been taken Milosevic would now be operating a fascist greater serbia on the borders of the EU with truly desperate levels of ethnic cleansing, mass rape, genocide, the chief victoms of which would have been Bosnian muslims. The genuine shame of the international community is that it failed to intervene earlier than it did, likewise Iraq and probably Afghanistan, likewise Rwanda.

    Interesting also that those on the ‘left’ who opposed sanctions on Iraq couldn’t bring themselves to concede that regime change was preferable, they preferred the misery wrought by the sanctions while complaining long and loud enough about that, presumably as theyfelt that it was the ‘anti-imperialist’ (i.e. anti-USA) position to take – undignified, I think you’ll agree. And plain wrong.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    I agreed with the original invasion but the pretence in 2006 that the redeployment in Helmand was to be an easy, danger free nation building exercise was a deliberate misleading of parliament and of the plain people of Britian.

    To cover that ‘lie’ we have had to listen to series of ministers backed up by the oppostion and press jibber-jabbering about women’s rights whe hilst all the time trying to re draw their war aims.

    The British government does not have the balls to admit they have called it wrongly since 2006 and have achieved nothing except contributing to the further destablisation of the area and increasing support for anti-Western vilolence. It a lost cause in it’s present format and the Labour party and now the Tories have the blood not just of the Afghanis but their own soldiers on their hands.

    Cut a deal with Taliban – not in five years but NOW .

  • daisy

    Yes, it’s good when “we” do it; not good when “they” do it.

  • John East Belfast


    “I do wonder whether NL or Lib/Tory politicos have ever read a history book,”

    I have read the Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns – do they count ?

    In all seriousness have you ever read them – if you havent I recommend you do to discover the kind of society that will prevail once the allies depart

    The Taleban are absolutely horrific and totally beyond reason.

    What I dont understand from someone on the Left like yourself is how you are quite happy to sacrifice human rights to these people ?

    What do you think they do to gays and women let alone the rest of the general populice

  • aquifer

    Afghanistan seemed to do OK under a king in the seventies, when the hippy buses could make it through fairly safely. But the americans won’t have royalism.

    Guaranteeing a cash price for alternative crops could push back the cultivation of heroin, but would be a distortion of freedom of the market.

  • Nunoftheabove

    What seems to call itself the left these days now appears to invest its hopes of a magical breakthrough on the forces of reaction – the jihadist death cult – essentially on the basis of (i) its own desperationland (ii) its intense hatred of the USA, the latter on the basis that their enemy’s enemy appears to be at least potentially a friend.

    Galloway’s failed Respect mob and their SWP brethren typify this. Whatever else their position on Afghanistan and Iraq can be described as, it can’t be a radical one. It is in fact a conservative pro-status quo one, aligning itself as it does with forces that are deeply reactionary – tyranical, tremendously sexually repressed and sexually repressive, racist, homophobic, theocratic and in fact imperialist. If it wasn’t quite so malign as a spectacle, it would be pathetic.

  • Cynic

    Not necessarily. It could be used for pharmaceutical purposes

  • Cynic

    “the slaughter of innocents in the pursuit of profits”

    ….isnt that republican policy? Hasnt it been for some time?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Im just home.
    Actually I cadged a lift off him 🙂

  • Cormac Mac Art

    Unless the royalty is Saudi.