THE PLANNED PROTEST by loyalists outside Leinster House in Dublin this Saturday has been postponed, according to a loyalist activist who was partly organising the demonstration.
Pastor Barry Halliday of Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (Fair) told TheJournal.ie that the protest had been postponed on the advice of the gardaí and will be rescheduled at a later date.
The Garda Press Office said in a statement this evening that they were aware of reports that the protest has been postponed but did not confirm whether or not this was the case, saying only that they held “positive and constructive” talks with organisers.
However to add to the confusion, the main organiser of the demonstration, Willie Frazer, is reported to have told the Last Word on Today FM that the protest will go ahead on Saturday and the programme’s presenter Matt Cooper tweeted this evening:
Halliday said earlier that the advice of gardaí that the organising committee had been communicating with was that the planned protest over the controversy surrounding the flying of the Union flag at Belfast City Hall should be rescheduled for a later date.
Halliday said today: “Dublin wasn’t going to work out, it was all a rush job, and it was going to achieve nothing only trouble for the gardaí. The feeling was we need to show a bit of courtesy to the police of our nearest neighbour.
“The gardáí have been very helpful, I spoke to the chief superintendent in charge of the operation and he was very helpful.”
Halliday said that the organisers could not be “antagonistic” in organising Saturday’s event and said that it had to be a “peaceful protest, setting forth our grievances”.
In a statement this evening, the gardaí said: “As previously stated An Garda Síochána facilitate peaceful protest and fully recognise the democratic right to do so.
“We also recognise the rights of others to go about their lawful business and the day to day needs of the business community and local residents.
“We would advise any organisation(s) who intend staging a protest or demonstration to contact An Garda Síochána in advance and the relevant local authority.”
Around 150 loyalists, led by activist Willie Frazer, were planning to travel to Dublin this Saturday where they would ‘sarcastically’ call for the Irish flag to be lowered from Leinster House.
The demonstration would be held in protest over the decision by Belfast City Council to fly the Union flag on designated days at city hall, a decision which has sparked widespread violence in the North in recent weeks.
The flag was previously flown all year around.
Earlier this week there were cross-party calls for the protest in Dublin to be called off.