LOYALISTS in Bangor are threatening to stage a protest against their local council at the same time as the BBC’s Proms in the Park concert takes place in the town.
Last month, more than 1,000 loyalists marched through the town to voice their anger over the North Down council’s policy on bonfires and its alleged ‘failure’ to promote Protestant culture.
Now the group - the North Down Association of Bonfires Committees - are planning to step up their campaign by holding a so-called ‘Prods in the Park’ on September 10, the same night as the BBC’s classical music showcase event at Castle Park, which attracts several thousand fans annually.
Mark Gordon, a local community worker, claimed the group had received little response from the council since their protest at the end of June, and said they were determined to organise further demonstrations.
“There is still a deep sense of frustration among the loyalist community and anger over the lack of response from the council to their concerns,” he said.
“There are plans for more protests in the coming days, weeks and months, and one of these is Prods in the Park which they are planning to run on the same night as Proms in the Park.
“They [loyalists] are not making any protest against the Proms in the Park or the BBC in any way, they are simply trying to make their voices heard in a dignified and peaceful manner,” added Mr Gordon.
It is understood that organisers of the protest have submitted an 11/1 form to the local police for the planned protest march, which is expected to pass close to the musical event.
After their protest in June, the group handed in a letter to the council stating that Protestant Unionist Loyalist (PUL) communities “believe North Down Borough Council is working to a nationalist agenda which will inevitably see the diminution of our culture and heritage”, which they claimed was “clearly evident in council’s determination to remove bonfires”.
North Down’s deputy mayor Alan Leslie said he did not believe the planned loyalist protest would detract from Proms in the Park.
“It certainly makes for a good headline, but I don’t think it will affect the main Proms event,” he said.
“There is clearly a deep sense of concern in the loyalist community across Northern Ireland about funding and many other issues, like the appointment of Sinn Fein’s special adviser.”
Proms in the Park will also be broadcast to a wider audience on BBC television, radio and online.
Peter Johnston, director BBC Northern Ireland, said: “Proms in the Park in Northern Ireland is one of the most prestigious and large-scale events we undertake each year.”