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Cross-party calls for loyalists to reconsider Dáil protest

Around 150 loyalists plan to hold a protest outside Leinster House this Saturday sarcastically calling for the Irish flag to be taken down… even though it won’t be flying.

Loyalist activist Willie Frazer, pictured in 2007.
Loyalist activist Willie Frazer, pictured in 2007.
Image: Nicholas Mac Innes/PA Archive/Press Association Images

THERE HAVE BEEN calls from Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil and Labour for loyalists to reconsider their plans to hold a protest outside Leinster House in Dublin this weekend.

Labour TD Gerald Nash has described plans by loyalist activist Willie Frazer to bring three bus loads of protesters to Dublin to stage a demonstration outside the Dáil as a “ridiculous stunt”.

Frazer and around 150 loyalists are planning to visit Dublin this Saturday where they will sarcastically call for the Irish flag to be lowered in protest over the decision by Belfast City Council to fly the Union flag on designated days at city hall.

Previously the flag has flown all year round. As the Dáil and Seanad are not sitting on Saturday there will be no tricolour flying at Leinster House on Kildare Street but that is currently unlikely to deter the demonstrators.

Loyalists also plan to hand in a letter addressed to Taoiseach Enda Kenny calling on him to do more to honour his commitment to meet with victims of IRA atrocities including the one at Kingsmill and issue a formal apology.

Nash said today: “I note that Mr Frazer describes his plans to protest against the flying of the tricolour at Leinster House as ‘tongue in cheek’.

“He would be well advised to remove his tongue from his cheek and put his mouth to good use in cancelling this ridiculous stunt which is bordering on the reckless.”

‘Insult’

The Louth deputy called on Frazer to use his influence to try to end the violent protests that have taken place in Belfast in recent days and described the “stunt” as an “insult to our intelligence”.

Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe said that people in Dublin should not engage with or be provoked by the protesters while calling on the loyalists to reconsider their protest.

“They should cancel this protest and all other protests which have been the cause of violence in recent weeks,” Crowe said. “This provocative publicity stunt is designed to ratchet up tension and trouble in Dublin.

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“I am calling on all Dublin people and others in the capital not engage with or be provoked by these unwelcome protestors.”

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesperson Niall Collins recalled the violence which marred Frazer’s ‘Love Ulster’ demonstration in 2006 and pointed out that the tricolour will not be flying at Leinster House on Saturday as the Dáil and Seanad are not sitting.

Collins said: “If Mr Frazer has a coherent case to make on the issue of flags, he should make it in a mature and responsible way.  I would be happy to facilitate a meeting with him to discuss any issue.

“However, I do not believe that a disruptive loyalist protest outside an empty Leinster House on a busy retail day in Dublin City Centre will advance his case in any way.

“In fact, I am confident it will serve only to further alienate a population already struggling to understand the disgraceful scenes in Belfast over the last month.”

Read: Condemnation as journalist and SDLP politician sent bullet in the post

Read: Fourth night of violence in East Belfast as flag protests continue

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Hugh O'Connell

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