Up to 23 people were arrested in Liverpool last Saturday after a British extremist group crashed a parade to commemorate the life of James Larkin, an Irish trade union leader and socialist activist.

The anti racism and fascism march was organized by the James Larkin Society and was led by the Liverpool Irish Patriots Republican Flute Band.

In the days leading up to the march, the far right group had branded the parade as an IRA march and urged protesters to oppose and confront “Irish republicanism in the city of Liverpool.”

“Over the past several years the city of Liverpool and north west england has seen the rise of anti-British feeling projected on them by immigrant families from the Republic of Ireland,” the poster read.

The Irish Times reports that the majority of the protesters were young, male, and tattooed. Some of them were locals, others appeared to have travelled especially for the day.

“F*** off back to Ireland, ye murdering bastards,” one male protestor screamed, before he was later arrested.

At a further point in the parade a group chanted, “Rule Britannia”, or “No surrender to the IRA”.

Despite the anti-Irish sentiment, the majority of those participating in the parade were not Irish.

“One Muslim man in his early 20s sighed in despair as he was accused by an obese black teenager of being “an IRA murdering scum,”” the newspaper reported.

Jane Calveley, a member of the UK’s largest public sector union, Unison, told The Irish Times: “This has come as a bit of a shock, it was always such a peaceful event. It has nothing to do with the IRA. I’m actually Jewish, anyway.”

Alec McFadden, president of the Merseyside Trade Union Congress (TUC) and anti-fascist campaigner, told the Liverpool Echo: “Today was all about celebrating one of the main trade unionists James Larkin.

“What shocked us was the number of people who came from outside Merseyside with the idea it was something to do with the IRA, it wasn’t.

“The police did a very good job in very difficult circumstances to ensure the march went ahead peacefully.

“I intend to write a report to the leaders of the council because of the influx of people from outside Merseyside who came to try to interfere with the march.”

Merseyside Police told the newspaper that 23 men and three women were arrested for minor public order offences.

Sit down protest by far-right groups attempting to stop the march on Park Road, Liverpool.David Colbran