The loyalist “Love Ulster” parade, for those who were victims of Irish Republican Army attacks, has been given the go ahead by Dublin police.
Loyalist campaigner Willie Frazer says the parade, which last took place in Dublin in 2006 resulting in rioting and 14 arrests, would take place again within weeks.
Frazer, the founder of the south Armagh victims' group Families Acting for Innocent Relatives, held an hour-long meeting with two chief superintendents at Balbriggan Garda Station, on Monday morning. He described the talks with police as "very good" and "constructive." Among those present were Chief Superintendent Pat Leahy of Store Street Garda Station, and Detective Chief Superintendent John Gilligan, of the force's Liaison and Protection section.
Frazier said, “It was certainly a very good meeting."
"The guards don't have an issue with us coming down. They said they will give us the protection that we need. The march will happen in the next couple of weeks.”
He confirmed that it would “probably” take place after Dublin City Councillors vote on a motion opposing the march, on March 2.
Frazer said the reason for the parade is to highlight the “lack of cooperation from the Irish government with the Northern Ireland coroners office’s request for files relating to the Kingsmills massacre”.
He added, “We are saying to the Irish government – the ball is in your court.”
The campaigner said the Irish government was failing to cooperate with Northern Ireland’s senior coroner John Leckey, with relation to the 1976 Kingsmills murders of ten Protestant men by the Irish Republican Army.
His message was “Release the information you hold on the Kingsmills massacre to the Northern Ireland coroner.”
The Kingsmills massacre occurred in 1976 when the IRA allegedly killed ten Protestant workmen, at Kingsmills, in south Armagh, as they traveled home from work. The minibus used by the gunmen was stolen from the Republic.
On Monday, Frazer said he expected between 200 and 300 people from Northern Ireland to take part in the march, which will travel along O’Connell Street and on to the Irish parliament building, Leinster House, on Kildare Street.
Frazer did admit there were concerns among the police about the “numbers coming down.”
He said, “They made it very clear that they would police the parade. They are more than willing to do their job, and if there are any issues they will deal with them."
He also added that there may be children present. He said, “Whether there are children there is up to their families. I know there would be concerns, but these are people who have been under attack for 40-odd years."
Fianna Fáil councillor Jim O'Callaghan, who is tabling next month's Dublin City Council motion, criticized the “Love Ulster” parade as provocative and unnecessary in light of the events of 2006.
Republicans at the previous “Love Ulster” parade caused hundreds of thousands of euro worth of damage to businesses and public facilities on O’Connell Street. The clashes resulted in 14 arrests and 41 injuries. Among those injured were six members of the police.
The retail outlets along the strip were also looted and business in the city center was brought to a standstill. Retail Ireland claimed that the reputation of the city at home and aboard had been damaged by the events of 2006.
Here’s the RTE news report from the day of the march in 2006: