Anti Covid vaccine demonstrators protest in Belfast city centre

Hundreds of people gathered in Belfast city centre on Saturday to reject the planned introduction of Covid-19 certification.

Saturday, 20th November 2021, 10:02 pm
Demonstrators take part in a protest against Covid certification in Belfast city centre on Saturday. Photo: Dominic McGrath/PA Wire

A large crowd gathered outside City Hall, with many carrying anti-vaccine and anti-Covid certification placards and banners.

On Wednesday, a majority of Stormont ministers backed the introduction of a Covid certification scheme despite DUP opposition.

It will see legal enforcement of coronavirus status entry requirements for nightclubs, bars, restaurants and a range of other settings from December 13.

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Demonstrators in the Belfast city centre protest. Photo: Dominic McGrath/PA Wire

Under the compulsory certification scheme, people wishing to gain entry to designated venues would need to demonstrate evidence of Covid-19 vaccination, a negative lateral flow test result, or proof of a coronavirus infection within the previous six months.

There was applause and cheers as multiple speakers promised to resist the introduction of Covid-19 certification in Northern Ireland.

Traffic was temporarily disrupted in the city centre, as many shoppers crowded into the Christmas markets in City Hall as the protest took place on the street outside.

Health Minister Robin Swann and chief medical officer Michael McBride were among those namechecked by speakers.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill were also referenced by speakers as they promised to resist the latest set of measures introduced to tackle surging Covid-19 rates.

Mr Swann has proposed that the Assembly is given the opportunity to debate the new regulations before enforcement comes into effect.

“We won’t be backing down,” one speaker told the crowd.

A large number of Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers gathered in the city centre ahead of the protest, which began just after 3pm.

Northern Ireland is currently seeing a spike in Covid-19 cases.

A further six deaths of patients who had previously tested positive for Covid-19 was confirmed on Saturday, with another 1,846 positive cases of the virus recorded.

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