‘Gun gestures’ but north Belfast republican parade passes peacefully

Annual Henry Joy Commemoration Committee parade in Belfast, finishing at Clifton Street Cemetery where executed United Irishmen leader Henry Joy McCracken is buried. A loyalist protest was held at Clifton Street Orange Hall.
Annual Henry Joy Commemoration Committee parade in Belfast, finishing at Clifton Street Cemetery where executed United Irishmen leader Henry Joy McCracken is buried. A loyalist protest was held at Clifton Street Orange Hall.
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Loyalist protestors and supporters of a republican parade jeered and gestured at each other in north Belfast as the Henry Joy McCracken parade passed off largely peacefully on Sunday afternoon.

A member of Sinn Fein’s national youth committee criticised the behaviour of those participating, saying there were better ways to remember Henry Joy McCracken, one of the founding members of the United Irishmen.

A Royal Black Institution parade down Clifton Street followed the nationalist parade

A Royal Black Institution parade down Clifton Street followed the nationalist parade

“I genuinely believe that there are more fitting ways to commemorate Henry Joy McCracken than taunting, kissing Celtic badges and giving gestures,” said Ryan McRory.

A number of restrictions had been placed on the annual parade organised by the Republican Network for Unity.

Supporters were not allowed to accompany the parade along a section of Clifton Street, and a single drumbeat ruling was also imposed.

Hundreds of participants and supporters were expected to join the parade, leaving from Ardoyne Avenue and finishing at Henry Place.

There was a heavy police presence in the area as loyalists held a protest outside Clifton Street Orange Hall.

TUV councillor Jolene Bunting said the behaviour of those taking part “was very provocative”.

The north Belfast councillor added: “The behaviour was quite appalling from the supporters that had walked behind the parade.

“There were gestures, there were gun gestures, people sticking fingers up, just general misbehaviour. There were at least six marbles thrown.”

Ms Bunting said protestors outside the Orange hall were jeering but, as far she was aware, no missiles were thrown by protestors.

In 2012 there were three days of rioting after the parade and more than 60 police officers hurt.

A Royal Black Preceptory parade took place shortly after the republican parade.

Four bands and a total of 250-300 participants took part.

A section of the parade, also along Clifton Street, was subject to restrictions on supporters and music.