The Facebook page of loyalist flag protesters, who celebrated the deaths of the 14 victims of Derry’s Bloody Sunday, has been taken down.
Last weekend marchers gathered in the city to mark the 44th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. The group, the Loyal Peoples Protest, had posted an image of the Bloody Sunday wounded on Facebook with the caption:
"Paras 14 Republicans 0. Enjoy your day, we did."
The decision to remove the Facebook page was related to infighting within the Loyal Peoples Protest group and not over criticism for the Bloody Sunday post, according to the Irish News.
Bloody Sunday took place on Jan 30, 1972, when British soldiers (paratroopers) shot 26 unarmed civilians during a peaceful protest against internment. Fourteen people died. In 2010, following the release of the Saville Inquiry into the incident, the British Prime Minister David Cameron apologized for the soldiers' actions.John Kelly, whose brother Michael (17) was one of the 14 killed on Bloody Sunday, told the loyalists responsible for the Facebook page in question to “go and get a life.”
Speaking to the Irish News Kelly said, “It is just typical of the thing that happens at this time of year. These were 14 innocent people who lost their lives, it doesn't matter what side of the community you come from.
“It certainly falls in with their sick mindset when they put up these disgusting remarks.”
He added, “It is sadly part and parcel of what we have to face. We believe these people are sick in the head. It goes right back to 1972 when the families received anonymous letters, hate-mongering and sectarian, from the likes of the UVF and others.”
Last Sunday thousands gathered for the annual commemoration march, retracing the route of the original 1972 protest.
The Loyal Peoples Protest is behind the 12-hour Union flag “vigil” being planned for Belfast City Hall, on St. Patrick’s Day. The group organizes regular weekly union flag protests despite dwindling numbers. The Irish News reported that there were just three members at their last vigil.
Before their Facebook page was taken down the Loyal Peoples Protest group said it had no intention of calling off their March 17th protest, planning during a day when thousands will gather in the area to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
Previously, the slogan "No Surrender" and "We will never back down" were posted alongside UDA feud widow's payout bid boost the advertisement for the St Patrick's Day protest.
The most prominent supporter of the original Union flag protests, Ruth Patterson, the former DUP councilor, who is running for the Assembly election as an independent, and her campaign manager Jamie Bryson, a County Down loyalist, have both spoken of their opposition to the St Patrick's Day protest.
Patterson asked the group to “think again.”
She said she did “not think there is a strategic or political purpose in organizing a protest on St Patrick's Day.”
The Loyal Peoples Protest had posted on Facebook “We would urge these same people to condemn those who will flaunt the Irish tricolor on this day, as they have in previous St Patrick Day parades through our city center.”
They added “The LPP Union Flag Vigil due to take place on the 17th of March 2016 will as planned take place . NO SURRENDER.”