BELFAST LOYALIST PARADE DEFIES PARADES COMMISSION RULING

Over 3,000 take to the streets of north Belfast on Saturday afternoon

Over 3,000 take to the streets of north Belfast on Saturday afternoon

LOYALISTS thumbed their noses at police and the Parades Commission during a rally through Belfast city centre.

The parade was due to set off from Belfast City Hall from 12.30 pm as stipulated by the Parades Commission.

But around 1,000 union flag protestors didn’t set off from the front gate of the City Hall until 1.30 am despite six warning from police.

As it set off a large neon sign warn protestors: “This parade is now unlawful.”

Police will now use CCTV footage and still photographs to prosecute those who defied the Commission’s ruling.

The parade left the City Hall and snaked its way through Royal Avenue and headed to north Belfast.

By the time it reached the Woodvale district, police believe the numbers had swollen to 3,000.

However, loyalist sources said that by the time reached Woodvale and its civil rights camp at Twaddell up to 5,000 people had joined the parade..

Meanwhile,  North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds has blasted the Parades Commission ruling banning the playing of music on part of Twaddell Avenue from next week.

The ruling comes into effect from next Wednesday, September 25.

However, loyalists are already planning to defy the ruling.

A loyalist source in north Belfast told the Belfast Daily: “The protestors are up in arms over this decision.

“They are now planning to increase the length of time they play music.

“They are also going to bring in speakers to play loyalist music after the nightly parade has disperse.

“This has lit the loyalist fuse. There is no way they are going to back down now.”

In a statement, local MP Nigel Dodds said: “This is a another ridiculous decision by this discredited Parades Commission.

“The evening parades from Woodvale Road to Twaddell Avenue take place in an entirely Unionist area.

“They have been peaceful throughout and are a legitimate form of peaceful protest in support of the Ligoniel lodges and bands.

“People have the right to make their views known.

“What are we coming to, that the Parades Commission will not permit these lawful demonstrations within the Unionist community to take place without restriction?”

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