Belfast rally veterans urged to ignore dissident march ‘provocation’

More than 1,000 veterans from the conflict in Northern Ireland attended a rally at Westminster earlier this year
More than 1,000 veterans from the conflict in Northern Ireland attended a rally at Westminster earlier this year

Military veterans attending a rally in Belfast this Friday have been urged to ignore the “provocation” of a dissident republican protest march.

Around 150 veterans and their supporters are expected to gather at the city hall gates – in protest at criminal proceedings being brought against soldiers involved in fatal shootings during the Troubles.

The Justice For Northern Ireland Veterans (JFNIV) protest has been timed to coincide with others taking place in London and Glasgow.

A counter demonstration by dissident group Saoradh was given the go-ahead yesterday by the Parades Commission, sparking concern that republicans will attempt to disrupt the JFNIV rally.

One of the veterans’ event organisers said those attending should “behave in a peaceful manner at all times,” and “not react to any provocation”.

The JFNIV rally at the city hall front gates will take place between 11am and mid-day, while the Saoradh protest march will make its way from Castle Street to the city centre around the same time.

The Parades Commission has determined that the march will go no further than the junction of Donegall Place/Donegall Square North – opposite city hall – and that there “must be no singing, chanting, or paramilitary symbols”.

Threats of republican violence led to the cancellation of a protest by another veterans’ support grouping in Londonderry last month.