The leader of right-wing group Britain First spoke at a rally next to Belfast City Hall on Sunday, where he told scores of onlookers his group “was conceived and launched in Northern Ireland”.
Paul Golding, from England, was speaking at an event organised by a group calling itself ‘Northern Ireland Against Terrorism’, which took place in Belfast city centre at roughly the same time as the large-scale republican “anti-internment” march.
Mr Golding extolled his links to the Province, and said the idea for his group – which reportedly launched in 2011 – was born when he discussed it with two other people in Dundonald after deciding “there was nothing in this country with any backbone that would stand up for our people”.
Throughout his speech, a group called ‘Belfast Says No to Fascism’ staged a counter-demonstration nearby.
After being introduced by north-west Belfast ex-TUV councillor Jolene Bunting (now an independent), Mr Golding told his audience he had pledged to fight a 30-year-long struggle to “save our country”.
“We might not survive this struggle,” he said.
“England is going to descend into civil war. There’s going to be bloodshed. You’ve seen the template for this kind of thing over in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.
“That is going to come to the mainland. Except it’s going to be far more vicious and bloodthirsty.”
He condemned Muslim immigration, and said that “politicians are deliberately replacing us in our own country – it’s an act of genocide”.
Ms Bunting was among those to applaud his remarks.
He went on to say that he had lived in Northern Ireland for about a year, and had attended Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle.
He denounced “Islamicisation”, and suggested that the existence of a mosque in Newtowards is an example of “colonisation”.
The gathering had originally been earmarked by the organisers for the front of city hall, but the Parades Commission had judged that there were “extremely high risks of public disorder”, and moved it to Donegall Square East beside the city hall.